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Where did the week go?

I turn around, and it's Friday already!

So, my NaNoWriMo story is set in an alternate Chicago where people ride horses, bicycles, or surreys, and get power from windmills.

What local color would you suggest ought to be there?

Or, if you prefer, tell me what cool devices might exist in a world with no fossil fuels or computers! 

They do have electricity (though no grid), and  plastics (or something similar) are grown from the byproducts of bacteria. 


( 10 comments — Leave a comment )
Nov. 6th, 2010 02:31 am (UTC)
"Where did the week go?"

They took it to little factory just outside Mississauga where they ground it up to make mattress stuffing.
Nov. 6th, 2010 03:16 am (UTC)
Oh, gosh, I hope not! My week was not restful. It would make a very poor mattress.

But hey--hello! It's good to see you here.
Nov. 6th, 2010 04:37 am (UTC)
I approve of these tags. :D
Nov. 6th, 2010 02:29 pm (UTC)
Nov. 6th, 2010 05:05 pm (UTC)
Now to start properly accumulating word count!
Nov. 6th, 2010 05:10 pm (UTC)
Nov. 6th, 2010 02:48 pm (UTC)
Wow, no fossil fuels? I didn't remember, from what I heard you read at Cap, it being that different a world -- though I don't think you went into much explanation of the technological and economic basis of the world, I took it for more steampunk -- so no common use of liquid petroleum-based transportation fuels, but having coal based industry, so you have trains, factories in a location without water (or really good wind) power, and steel.

If your Chicago is a big city, it has to be a transport hub, which presumably means linking Great Lakes shipping to the inland rivers and the canal systems (which were just getting going when they were supplanted by railroads).

I could chat about this sort of world building background stuff for a long time, but I gotta run now, and if you're trying to NaNoWriMo you probably don't want to spend a huge amount of time on this now, especially for a world that you already know in your own head...
Nov. 6th, 2010 05:04 pm (UTC)
Actually, stopping to think about the worldbuilding stuff is the main thing that's slowing me down! That's why I started this thread inviting people to, in effect, brainstorm with me.

I figure they have wind and solar power that's more developed than ours, and steel--too many things need steel. Though I suppose they could have a bacteria-grown polymer to use for some of the things we'd use steel for. Or even a spider-silk related substance...I could go for lots more types of spiders than in this world.

Oh--and they do have alcohol.

I don't think I'll ever need to explain the lack of fossil fuels--to them, it's an imaginary substance, the stuff of speculative fiction and not a subject of scientific inquiry--but my current theory is that they have common bacteria that happily eat that stuff. Hmm...If they could have factories that produce it, or something like it, they might be able to use it right there, in a sealed factory environment, before it all got eaten up.

But carting it around to millions of gas stations and having it sit in automobile engines until someone wants to drive somewhere, --that's right out.

Now, trains--it would be good to figure out if there's a way to make trains work in this world, and are they primarily expensive passenger things, or can they carry heavy freight? I am imagining Chicago as a big city, and the groceries have to get there somehow...
Nov. 7th, 2010 01:00 am (UTC)
If they don't have fossil fuels or an electric grid, but they do have urban life, they really need a good light source. So, perhaps they have some sort of sufficiently advanced technology that turns mechanical energy directly into visible light? Wind-up lights don't start fires, so if they've had a material for a long time that glows if you twist/pound/stir/whatever it instead of getting hot, they could well have refined it to the point of not needing fire for light.

A general distrust of liquid fuels because of the fire hazard is a lot more believable than saying they aren't possible in the world, and is just as effective in practice. A lot of things that seem fundamental in our society are the way they are just because everybody knows that's how it is, not because they need to be that way.

If there are trains, they will move stuff. Railroads got started moving the mail, not moving passengers. But you do need to figure out how expensive the trains are (since you said they exist), which in turn determines whether they only move really a small volume of really important stuff and a few rich people, or a whole lot of basic stuff and lots of people. You don't *have* to figure out how they're powered, but I think it would help to understand how the world works. I'm getting pretty far into the speculation swamp here, but you might postulate some technology that can store up the energy from a windmill to run a locomotive from New York to Chicago, but doesn't scale down from the size of a locomotive to the size of a private car.
Nov. 7th, 2010 06:46 pm (UTC)
Oh, this world had cities--and big ones--before electricity or gas light. So I wonder why you think they need a really good light source.
( 10 comments — Leave a comment )


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