The tech in “The Family Of Earth” is a blend of the plausible and the purely fantastic. Sources include vintage science fiction, dieselpunk, steampunk, cyberpunk, and actual technology in use today. In general, things have a retro aesthetic, but advanced capabilities, which are often theoretical. Here are some examples:
Perhaps the most common and relied upon aspect of this world’s technology is robotics. Machines do most of the grunt work, and every member of society is very familiar with them. During the War, Pruessian robotics was the most advanced known. Hir Kaezer’s mechanical armies devastated all of Earth on Black Sky Day. After the War ended, the Pruessians collaborated with the brilliant technicians and programmers of the off-world colonies. At the time of the novel “Ruby Descent”, robots are found in every industry and sector of society. Most of the staff aboard the Ruby lift is robotic.
Steam-powered units were the standard in the early years of the War. These were quickly surpassed when diesel engines were adapted by the Pruessians, like the robots appearing in “Perfect World Somewhere”, and “Children of the War”. Large battle machines trudged across the continents, spreading fear and destruction as they went.
Powered by durable batteries, which charge on either solar, diesel, or fusion generators, post-War robots are classified by model types, according to their function. Units like the Custodians are widely used as domestic workers–housekeepers, janitors, cleaners, etc. Others, like the Standard Agents used aboard the Ruby lift, are custom built for very specific tasks. The Agent units are purely designed for guest interaction and basic office duties, and have the appearance of perky, stylized young women cast in gleaming red chrome. Think Android Maria from the silent film “Metropolis”, crossed with a shiny red sportscar, and embellished with ornate art deco accents and gilding along their casings.
In general, robots have the appearance of those from vintage science fiction films and comic books. Most are built upon a solid steel frame, and covered with metal casings. Depending on their use, they may have speech replicators, though among themselves they communicate in their own coded languages, via carefully maintained wireless networks. Many are bipedal and humanoid, but there are some which have strange adaptations. One of the more peculiar models is the General Utility Steward, used aboard the Royal Crown and its lifts. ‘GUS’ units resemble an anthropomorphic snail, with sensors set upon retractable antennae, and a coiled, segmented body. They’re able to shape and arrange their frames to suit any given situation, hover above the ground, or extend an array of spidery legs and scurry about their work. They perform many tasks which the larger, less flexible robots can’t.
The orbital colonies are renowned for their highly advanced genetic engineering technology. Through manipulation of genes and tissue, living organisms are custom designed and produced to meet a variety of needs. Animals and plants are readily created, however, the alteration of human material is illegal outside of tissue and organ generation for medical reasons, and remains highly controversial.
Animals are often produced and marketed as pets, like Walter Marlow’s cat Mr. Vincent, and also to perform various working roles, like Ethlyne Blane’s horse, Ginger, who was designed to thrive in the lower gravity conditions of Mars for a holo-film being shot there. All of the wildlife in the colonies, arcologies, and orbital habitats are engineered as well. Being a contained environment, having songbirds to sing by day, and crickets to chirp at night must be a carefully ordered process. The creatures are sterile, unable to breed and overwhelm, and can be created n a variety of fancy colors to boot.
On occasion strange hybrids are made, like the three ‘Chimerae’ found on the hunting preserve known as Thohadoun, from “Beauty In The Bones”. One of these is a cross between warthog, hyena, and oryx genes. and is known as ‘Old Nobbin’. A squat, ugly creature with a single spiraled horn growing out of its brow, Old Nobbin was a research project which broke out of containment at the lab where it was created, and killed several people as it escaped. It was eventually sent to Thohadoun, to be one of their famous trophy beasts, and is known as the meanest, most dangerous animal on the grounds.
Space Travel/Fusion Rockets
A good majority of the populace resides and works off-world. Faster than light travel still isn’t possible, but due to the invention of a form of nuclear fusion, space travel has become as easy and common as air travel is in our world. Fusion rockets propel hyper-shuttles across the solar system, and other versatile craft can adapt to orbit or terrestrial flight with retractable propellers, such as the private shuttle owned by the affluent Blane family in “Beauty In The Bones”.
Spacecraft in this series has a definitive vintage look. The streamlined vessels of the old Flash Gordon and Buck Rogers universes, and the work of Norman Bel Geddes are the main influences. Chromed rocket ships with sweeping fins and curvilinear, aerodynamic styling are most popular. The elite citizens who dwell in the colonies especially favor these sleek and shiny designs for their craft.
In the series, humankind has settled as far out as Mars, and is rapidly expanding to the other planets and their moons.
Space elevators are an innovative invention, and all in this universe are owned and operated by the Royal Crown Orbital Plaza and Resort. Five gem-themed, torus-shaped climber vehicles, each designed as a luxurious and swanky extension of the hotel itself, ascend and descend on regular itineraries along nano-fiber cables. The cables are anchored to immense floating platforms on Earth, and orbital launch rings above. The floating platforms station offshore of large spaceport cities, like Malewai, in Indolasia, which appears in “Perfect World Somewhere” and “Ruby Descent” as home to the dock for the Ruby lift. All of these docks lie along the equator, to provide the proper geosynchronous alignment for the cables.
A combination of solar collectors, electric propulsion, and high-powered lasers drive the climber vehicles on their steady routes. Along the cables there are charging platforms which provide a resting point, and replenish the lift simultaneously. The Ruby is the slowest of the five, taking twenty hours each way, between the homeworld and orbit. The Emerald lift is the fastest and most streamlined, making the journey in an astounding twelve hours.
The lifts offer three to four levels of entertainment and guest floors, offering basic comforts like private cabins and room service for those seeking a more luxurious ride than a seat on a crowded shuttle. The most advanced and costly artificial gravity generators provide comfort and utility. They can carry cargo and passengers in a cost-effective way, and extend the gracious hospitality of the Royal Crown beyond the premise of the hotel itself.
The Ruby lift is the largest and most active of the five. It has a beautiful event level known as the Scarlet Ballroom, with 360 degrees of viewing windows, and famous for its thrilling, romantic views of space and Earth. Also unique to the Ruby is the Steerage level, designed for second and third class passengers looking for a more cost-effective option. Off-world miners love it, as they often want to have a last taste of luxury before their leave for their strenuous long-term jobs across the system. Steerage is clean and well-managed by the robotic staff, and even has a sizeable lounge featuring live music. The Ruby lift’s Head Engineer and Technician, Lily Fairpoole, and her jazz band, the Hard Knocks, are regular performers there.
Holographic technology is very sophisticated, and used in a variety of ways. The Ruby lift’s system, known as ‘Zora’, projects an avatar of itself when interacting with its human counterparts. Appearing as a pert, attractive blonde woman in a snazzy red uniform and pillbox hat, Zora is a self-maintained system used exclusively aboard the Royal Crown and the lifts.
Holo-films are all the rage, thee-dimensional cinema being so much more exciting and fashionable than a lifeless flat screen. However, standard 2D movies are still enjoyed as well. Ethlyne Blane is a famous holo-film actress.
Personal communication and media devices also frequently use holographic displays. Wristcoms are designed around this feature, projecting a mini image of one’s contact in a flickering blue and silver display about an inch above the wrist. Tablets and various interface devices employ a similar function.
Holograms are also adapted into fashion. In “Ruby Descent” several daring and cutting edge party-goers wear holographic clothing, with shifting images, colors and patterns that can be customized for any event.
Like the Apple Watch and other relevant devices, wristcoms are like a smartphone on your wrist. Wristwatches first gained popularity in the 1920s, and wristcoms are a retrofuture adaptation of the fad. They appear most often as communication technology, a sort of holographic, mobile Skype.
Other wearables include display visors and eyepieces similar to Google Glass. Transmitters are also woven into textiles and accessories, which allow the wearer to command robots or interactive appliances, like doors and access panels.
In cyberpunk style, the fashions at the time of “Ruby Descent” are heavily integrated with wearables. It’s trendy to have your many devices blended seamlessly into your clothing. Hats, gloves, jewelry, glasses, veils, headpieces, collars and cuffs–anything can be an extension of your technological needs and savvy, and still look fabulous when at the party or the office.
Hovercraft are popular on Luna and Mars, as the terrain can be rugged. Transports and personal vehicles often feature quantum levitation mechanics for a smooth, drifting ride over rocks and difficult areas. Smaller hover devices aren’t as common, but do appear on occasion. In “Perfect World Somewhere”, a themed wedding party uses a compact hover platform to replicate a flying carpet for its costumed performers to cavort upon.
Hover racing is also a rapidly growing pastime on Mars, where the youth don’t have much to do. This becomes an obsession for many Martian teens, and grows into an underground hover rod/drag race subculture by the time of the last trilogy in the series, “Solswept”, which takes place in a 1950s/atompunk type of world.
Serving as the internet of this retrofuture universe, the Net is a vast public communications and media network available to all citizens across the worlds. Satellites and wireless terminals provide access for business and personal use alike. All currency transactions and accounts are also conducted and stored within the immense cloud. What we call websites are referred to as hubs, and people enjoy all of the same kinds of social, news, and entertainment channels that we do.
Space Habitats and Colonies
Life off-world is safe, comfortable, and in many ways more desirable than residing on the homeworld. Hundreds of orbital habitats drift about Earth, each with their own unique flavor and culture. With names like Celestine, the Vestal Coil, Tri-Jovian, and Altair-7, they provide controlled environments with near-perfect attributes. Balmy weather, flowing streams, fertile farms, gleaming art deco cityscapes, and pristine, well-ordered lifestyles appeal to many. it can be monotonous, but the pleasures offered often exceed the more volatile and polluted areas on Earth. The colonies are nearly self-sufficient, and can provide their own commodities and needs indefinitely, with the exception that they must replenish their water on a regular basis.
The Moon is bustling with a sprawl of arcologies known collectively as Luna. Mars is the least populated of the worlds, with two surface colonies and two orbital ones. The largest habitat on Mars is the orbital settlement of Farswept, which supports over a million inhabitants.