This post continues the Shadows Over Sol Dark Future setting preview started two weeks ago and continued last week. Those interested in Shadows Over Sol are encouraged to sign up for the open beta test or to download the Quick-Start. The full game is scheduled for a September Kickstarter.
Okay, here's something that should be familiar to you: It's still all about the money. Everyone wants it. Everyone needs it. Most people don't have enough of it, and a few people have too much. Sound familiar? Good. Here's where things begin to change.
Most money in your time is backed by a nation-state. They print it. They try to control inflation. It's good as long as the nation-state remains solvent, or at least until the political leaders change their minds. But money is a complicated fiction. It's valuable because people say it is; and because people treat it as valuable, it continues to stay that way. If one currency begins to tank, you trade it in for another currency—or at least you try, hoping that there is the available liquidity to do that.
Currency today is an even more complicated fiction. A few nation-states still issue their own money—usually in the form of bonds rather than physical currency. But most common notes are back by corps—after all, they're the major players on the political block now. A few subcultures have even tried issuing their own voucher currency, but those haven't worked out so well.
The corps are where the money's at because they are where the employment is at. Every major corp has its own credit system used to pay its employees and many of its debts. This credit is redeemable at any corp-affiliated market. Naturally, a variety of exchanges exist to trade one type of credit for another. Most trades on these exchanges are made automatically, done in real-time with the swipe of a credit chip.
Money is rarely physical. It's mostly a series of bits sitting in various centralized accounts and transferred back and forth between computer systems as transactions take place. On a planetary network this is almost instantaneous, but in space these transactions require synchronizing with financial databases minutes away by broadcast.
It's different on Earth, but out here the de facto standard for currency is the Unitech microcredit. That's because of Unitech's commercial dominance in space.
You are the third person we've resurrected from cryo. None were from as far in the past as you are, but each of them have seemed very interested in one particular question: What sort of shiny new toys do people have to play with now? That is, what new bounties has technology brought the world? Let's cover that.
I understand that in your time the world was still undergoing a revolution in computing and networking power. Today those technologies are mature. We have basic micro-computers everywhere, in everything from toasters to clothing. Most of these machines are dumb—even by the standards of your time—but they network regularly with more powerful machines, and this makes for a good deal of intelligence. Shops can take digital inventories, with the small computers in every product reporting their location. Refrigerators can provide alerts when staple foodstuffs get low. AIs can plan a person's evening wear from the chips in her wardrobe.
The biological sciences have also undergone a considerable revolution. Most of us have had our genomes sequences before birth and been screened for common genetic defects or developmental issues. Many, going on most, of us have also been genetically upgraded before birth for enhanced attractiveness, reflexes, durability or cognition. Out in space upgrades tend towards not suffering bone degradation in microgravity, suffering less from radiation exposure or decreased life support requirements. These can be life-savers in the environments out here.
Where computers and cognition meet is the realm of Augmented Reality (AR). We're currently in the middle of an AR revolution, just as you were in the middle of a computing revolution in your time. Many of us have implanted AR interfaces or cheaper external interfaces. This lets us look out at the world and see it enhanced with tags and other metadata. I have an early AR interface model, and even I no longer have to remember people's names most of the time—they just appear in my vision floating above their heads. I also no longer have to keep a tablet with notes. It's all in my head.
I don't have time to go into all the other technological advances, but they are many: thorium fission reactors, cloning, vat-meat, trans-genetic modifications, biological implants, tissue engineering, low-sapient AIs, asteroid mining and quantum encryption. It's all too much to name at once, and I have limited time.
Now pay very close attention: this is perhaps the single most important thing I have to say. I am not a doctor, and this is not a hospital. We are a resistance group based out of Mars. In a very short time—perhaps a few minutes now—Unitech troops will come bursting through that door, guns raised.
I'm going to be arrested, but I'm sure my ties at the university will pull me through. You, on the other hand, have no ties in this time. You have no electronic records. You have no established identity. In this pan-optic day-in-age that is very rare. The troops are going to take you and they're going to ask a lot of questions. They will likely even lie to you and tell you many half-true stories about our time. Remember what I've told you. Remember that they're another point of view out that—in fact, many of them.
At some point in the future we will contact you again. Don't worry, we have ways. Then we will come to collect on having revived you from your icy death.
This concludes the Dark Future setting preview for Shadows Over Sol. Stay tuned in future weeks for more information and different previews of the setting. Meanwhile, remember to check out the open beta test or download the Quick-Start!