Writing and Other Afflictions

"If it was easy, everyone would do it." –Jimmy Dugan, "A League of Their Own"

New Tibet

Common and Precious book coverThe Universe: Far future, in which humans created furries as servants/soldiers and then suffered a series of diseases/conflicts that left furries outnumbering humans. The last humans have been banished (“retreated with dignity,” in their terms) to a space station and possibly a few secret outposts on Earth.

The Planet: New Tibet is a world with extensive mineral resources accessible through the uninhabited arctic landmass about the size of Greenland. The rest of the planet is off limits because of potential interference with development of native life (industries have to meet strict regulations for disposal of waste, which is sometimes skirted). There is one low mountain on the island, Mount Arken, surrounded by foothills.

The People: Snowshoe hares, lemmings, ermine, arctic foxes, and snow leopards make up the majority of the population, the workforce of New Tibet (if you have another favorite cold-weather species, that’s probably okay too). Largely drawn to the planet as a “new frontier where you can make your fortune,” they arrived to discover that several large companies owned all the land, and the only way to make a living was at low-paying jobs in mining and refining, or administration for those companies. Because so few people are now coming to New Tibet, the price of a ticket off-world is essentially double what it cost to come to the planet (you’re paying for both halves of a round trip) and so people have to save for years/decades to get off the planet.

There are also some privileged people on New Tibet. Two organized crime groups live in a sort of tense equilibrium: the Vishons, a polar bear family; and the Shivers, made up of wolves and Siberian tigers (the tigers are generally higher up). Both of these groups sell drugs to the population: the Vishons specialize in opiates, while the Shivers sell more uplifting drugs (analagous to cocaine, MDMA). The local owners/CEOs of the corporations also enjoy a very privileged life. There are cases in which other species might work for those organizations, but never in positions of authority (see “Spook”). These organizations are also generally the only ones who have guns, which are illegal on New Tibet.

Gay relationships are not illegal or frowned upon, but mixed-species relationships are (this is a holdover from furry culture on Earth, where propagating the various species and increasing the population was paramount; on New Tibet it doesn’t make as much sense but people are slow to change).

The Themes: New Tibet lends itself to class themes (the species correspond to classes in some cases but you can also tell stories just of workers and not worry about that so much), and stories of people in desperate straits. It’s always winter but occasionally Christmas.

Random Other Stuff: Fish is the most common food, probably raised in fisheries (more minimum-wage jobs). There is a place called “Ghost Town” where a nuclear reactor melted down and is still leaching radioactive waste into the water (“Common and Precious”). And there are no graveyards on New Tibet because you can’t dig into the turf (intro to an unpublished story). There are “newsfeeds” which I haven’t really detailed, so there’s some kind of future tech but it can be limited due to economic or climatic conditions (certain electronics aren’t made for the constant cold).

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