When you listened to the old-timers talk, the problems were mostly space.
When you actually listened to them, the problem was space in specific areas, or space that someone wanted, or something like that.
But there was a “crowding issue”. There were issues with too many people in NYC. There were issues with lots and lots of people in places on the other side of the globe. There were problems with obsolete technology. As far as Rhini could tell, there had been a whole bunch of problems like that, or things people had thought were problems, and some really rich people had thought those problems were going to take over the world.
And as far as the history classes taught – and that was a little tricky to sort out, too, because some of the ‘casts had been deleted and others had been censored and during a riot a hundred years back some had been burned – a bunch of rich people had funded something like seven different solutions at once.
One of those had been the Arcology Rhini and, at last count, 17 other people lived in.
It had been built to hold 5000. If any of the records were remotely true, the year the infertility plague hit here in Detroit, it had held 5,250 and been just starting to get a little tight, the way those in the other 24 biggest cities in the US and the 250 biggest cities all over the world had been.
The year the thing people whispered as the Eugenics Plague hit, things had already been down to 4400 here and shrinking.
The year that people figured out truly good food-growing that was 90% automated, population had dipped down below 3000 in the Denver arcology.
And it kept going.
Rhini’s mother had decided to go to the Planet Ring ten years ago, taking with her Rhini’s sole sibling, 10 years older than Rhini and then already thirty. A whole bunch of people who still lived here had gone out there, or to mine the asteroids, craving real work that the Robot Revolution had meant was pretty much gone on earth if you weren’t a handicrafter of some sort or a mechanic for those robots.
Rhini didn’t want to mine asteroids, didn’t want to live up in a ring, and was perfectly happy in the arcology. Nobody new was coming to live here, after all, and the food production modules and fabric-production machines worked with just a little maintenance every couple weeks. She had all the space she could ever want.
“Are arcologies obsolete?” she’d seen on a recent newscast – from the Planet Ring. Rhini thought that was a stupid question. Were houses obsolete? Were food plants? The place was paid for, after all. And they kept it running.
“The future of earth is machines and mechanics,” another newscast had trumpeted.
Rhini was fine with that. She had smashed together four big apartments so she had the best place in the whole tower. She walked up and down the arcology fixing things and, if she didn’t feel like going home, she just crashed in another apartment. They all marked the ones they liked – Torry, who handled the tree farms machines; Edda, who handled the two dairy-and-wool farms; Lima, who handled the machines that ran the arcology itself.
The future of humanity might be in the Planet Ring and the asteroids, but Rhini was cool being Earth’s future.Want more?
My Arcologies prompt call is still open here.