[warning.. some spoilers are included within this explanation of the concepts of the story of Beyond the Pale and the denizens of New Denver. However these spoilers only relate to the background story and not to the main plot]
The world in 2062
There are non specific references made in the story to an apocalyptic time that some of the older denizens had lived through. The reason for the details remaining vague is that the subjects of history and geography are now frowned up on. It is as if a clean sheet had been drawn up when the various citadels were constructed. Although the culture of the world’s surviving population within the various metropolises is quite homogenous, there is no travel between them. Citizens share no culture or interests beyond the borders of their metropolis. There only understanding of history that predates the citadels is that it was unruly and destined for disaster. Most people know that there had been a profound but inevitable economic collapse which was triggered by a series of concurrent international military conflicts which was followed shortly by a succession of climatic and natural disasters which caused immense loss of lives. Coastal flooding and inundations of the sea that did not recede caused a state of emergency in most cities which continued to prevail after hunger and decease took a hold on the displaced populations. Cities were quarantined, and sealed off by militarised forces. Those that survived or managed to leave eventually congregated in emergency detention camps and found gainful employment later in the construction of the new citadels and super cities.
In the story Beyond the Pale, there are several references to the 250 metropolis that exist in the world. Most of these metropolises are new constructions that were built following the collapse of the old world system. Previous capital and major cities were mostly situated beside rivers at sea levels. A drastic rise in sea levels within a brief time led to most of these cities being abandoned by their populace. The new citadels built during the period of reconstruction during the 2030’s were built in land on higher terrain. They were usually located at major transport nodes and usually above large respective ex-military underground bases which had access to high speed underground transport tunnel systems. Because the atmosphere and stratosphere were in a delicate state requiring the absence of human interference, air travel was severely limited. Underground travel through interconnecting tunnel systems was deemed the best option forward by the last international Treaty of Georgia. During the 30s and 40’s collective construction efforts amongst the designated citadels of the world extended tunnel systems using previously secret technology that could bore using thermal plasma lances through a mile of rock in a day. The world’s centres of population were now connected by high speed underground rail connections. Despite these fast transit connections, most transport remains restricted to freight. We are led to believe that the culture & society in these cities is pretty homogenous across the world; that travel is restricted, and these cities are mostly self sufficient. The original Idea for this concept came from an American seer named Edgar Cayce who often gave premonitions of a future America from dreams that he had in the 1930 & 40s. Edgar Cayce is now recognised as one of the founding spirits of ‘New Age spirituality’. In visions he had of a future America, he saw no United States but instead he saw a small conclave of super cities in which live was very controlled, easy and orderly. He said that the world would be very different with major inundations of the sea along coastlines and major earth changes. He stated that the greater parts of the planet were left to the wilderness but that there were a few isolated communities in which life was hard but their society was free and very spiritual.
‘America 2050’ is a think tank sponsored by the Rockefeller foundation who foresee U.S. population concentrated in just 11 urban megaregions, and are sponsoring the building of high speed freight rail links between these eleven areas. The Chinese have similar plans for megacities in which they will concentrate their population. Concentrating population within designated areas is all about control. This is control of the infrastructure and utilities, control of the outside environment through conservation. It is also control of the social structure of society through law and social responsibility, managed employment and social care programs.
Although these planned future cities are not those represented by New Denver in the book, I did borrow many of their planned future concepts such as urban farming, self sufficiency, and a very structured and planned building and transport program. I assumed a world that restricted travel to the majority of their population in order to prevent unnecessary carbon emissions and pollution, and to aid and abet social control of the masses. I recognised a pattern which is becoming all to prevalent now whereby more holiday periods are being taken at home, as travel becomes expensive and destinations unsafe. The staycation industry will grow and merge with the burgeoning 24/7 entertainment society which replaces tourist dollars with a home grown growing leisure spend.
A planet in conservation
The majority of people in the world now accept that global warming caused by carbon emissions is dangerously altering the world’s climate. There are still many detractors who don’t believe that carbon emissions are responsible, but very few people fail to see that the planet’s climate and eco-balance is dangerously out of kilter. There are two forms of pollution which are corrupting natural resources. One is the pollution and effluent from an exponentially growing world population. The other is the dangerous industrial and mineral mining pollutions. By far the most damaging of these is the oil and gas extraction which due to dwindling reserves is now driven to extract oil from previously uneconomical tar sands and gas from previously unreachable pocket fields. Both these processes require pumping millions of gallons of fresh water under pressure to free and extract the hydrocarbons. In both cases the ground water reservoirs deep underground as well as streams that run off are polluted. Above ground, such mining and extraction leaves areas desolated. The worlds growing need for the rare earth group of minerals such as lithium require vast quantities of strong acids to be washed down extraction pits to release ever smaller quantities.
Nature too, shows many signs of being unbalanced. We have been experiencing record levels of species becoming extinct, and our fish stocks are dangerously depleted. The whole eco system appears to be out of balance and in danger of collapse. Extreme weather patterns of drought versus floods seem to be rebranding what was once acceptable arable land as desert. Lakes are drying out and disappearing because farming and mining is diverting the rivers that feed them.
It is clear that our planet cannot survive the continual pollution and eco-destruction of both corporations and individuals, industrial or over population. At least one of these has to cease and it seems that the likely option will be the control of the population.
Agenda 21 is a non binding, voluntary implemented action plan of the United Nations with regard to sustainable development. It recommends the depopulation of certain wilderness conservation zones so that nature can restore balance naturally. One of the first zones of depopulation planned for the United States is a large swathe of territory running through Colorado and adjoining States which encases the Rockies and highlands which surround them. If these de-populations are successfully achieved, other wilderness zones are earmarked throughout the world. Many fear that most industry and employment will be encouraged to vacate the countryside for cities and urban zones. The stick will be higher business costs and taxes coupled with poor local amenities, transport systems and services. The carrot will be a shift of affluence and employment to the urban areas together with the all encompassing promise of full protection that comes with the control systems in place in the metropolis. A world with a population condensed into smaller living zone will certainly be more orderly and easier to police. One principle has been overlooked here. This is that humans once had an affinity and connection with the land. We were all once indigenous to some neck of the woods, and when we were, we lived more in balance with nature and our environment. This made us responsible for our environment, and gave us a healthy respect for nature. When all humanity is confined to live in residential stacks in urban centres, there will remain no human affinity for the nature and the environment. Thus it is hard to imagine how we expect to recover balance in our environment when we humans still remain separate and distinct from the land; from mother earth.
Native Americans, and in particular the Hopi, Ute and Navajo play a prominent role in this story. The Hopi have had a long oral tradition which has prophesized a time ahead when they will be charged with a great responsibility; This being to offer guidance and quarter to the non natives who seek shelter amongst them in a prophesised times of strife. In the Hopi creation myth, the creator offers an ear of corn to each of the four racial groups. The Hopi takes the smallest, and the creator tells them that they alone have chosen the pure and unadulterated seed which they now have a duty to protect until the next age so that the next generations crop will be pure. This Hopi myth always reminds me of the story Jesus tells in the parable about the tares in the wheat. (Matt 13).
Like many other indigenous people they have a spiritual connection with the land. In the story I wanted to experiment with the concept of how they might fare when forcibly separated from it, and when intervolved in a completely non spiritual culture. The natives and their children who have been processed and assimilated do not thrive well in the metropolis of New Denver. They tend to settle into a reserved place in the city’s underclass. Cut off from the land & environment their animistic religious connections begin to sever; they either develop addictions or find solace in non animistic religions. There are suggestions proffered by the character Ray Scott who has Cheyenne in laws, that there are reasons why native outlanders don’t prosper in the metropolis. It is River’s father Eli who appreciates the real reason. This is that the power behind the government of the metropolis fears the inherent shamanistic spirituality of native outlanders. However the unstated strategy is to limit their inherent ability to reach kundalini by breaking their symbiotic relationship with the earth and their exposure to the elements and the Sun. The idea is to dampen and thwart these connections by a diet of hard manual labour out of reach of the sky, and encouraged by a plethora of addictive vices in order to corrupt their sacral & solar chakras. Hence why most ex natives find themselves living in the seedy down town districts under artificial lighting to replace the Sun and sky which is obscured by the shadow of the elevated central zone which is built above it. The reason for this will be fully explained in the sequel.
Observations of the lifestyle in New Denver
River is the main character through whose observations we witness the style of life in New Denver. He is a native outlander who has been brought up with strong Hopi cultural ties by his mother and uncle. His people are nature dwellers have no guarantee of where the next meal is coming from but they have faith that the free flowing balance of nature will provide.
This is almost the diametric opposite of the culture of the city dwellers who have a guarantee of security, comfort and food but at a price. They trust that the protective & controlling environment of the citadel will provide for them, and that without it, they will be left to perish.
Two concepts become more apparent to River as he spends time inside the city. The first is that everyone is burdened by an all encompassing duty and need to serve. Responsibilities are carried like an invisible cross from a young age by a strong ethic to work and succeed. The resultant core reaction against this inherent pressure seems to be played out in game playing, legal recreational drugs which are mostly amphetamine and sensory accelerators, and a strong emphasis on sex. There is a psychological disconnect between a sexual behaviour and its ultimate purpose. No children are conceived through sexual relations in the metropolis. Sex has become purely a hedonistic pleasure seeking experience. Love is a convoluted concept that has been sidelined and replaced by sensory pleasure and personal responsibility. Love itself has been corrupted into some gestalt mixture of narcissistic self love, unrequited passion or sexual energy, and controlled violence or lust.
The second concept that becomes apparent to River is that Spirituality is suppressed or missing in most people. Responsibility dampens the spirit, and there is no expression of love or creativity in anyone’s work. Even the Arts express corrupted muses that dedicate their passion to other expressions lower than Love. Music, art, games, cinema, and fashion all relate to base emotions usually inspired by sex or controlled aggression.
The majority of the population are atheists, although some religious practices are adhered to by the higher social and ruling classes. Their religion is initiate based mysticism, and strongly sexually oriented. The mysticism is exceedingly orchestrated, ritualistic, and directed towards manifesting realities. Power and influence always seems to be released sparingly from an unseen higher authority. The higher up the ladder one progresses, the more access they have to certain freedoms and wealth. However the price one pays is more responsibility and duty, and stricter control.
There is a cell structure in place in society which means that you are unlikely to know your boss’s boss on a social footing; nor even know whom that person reports to. Allegiance is given not only to your occupational line managers, but to a myriad assortment of organisations and orders to which you will have belonged since the days of your youth. Social networking is interlinked allowing you to maintain alliances and relationships forged with only a small peer group. Social networking information on those belonging to higher social strata is censured from others below.
There are no political parties. Instead oligarchial interests elect a cabinet of 12, who then elect a president. This political system designed for continuity and consensus is based on the long lasting oligarchical Doje system of medieval Venice. Beneath this is a pyramid structure representing professional guilds and government departments. At the very top, is a class that can travel between New Denver and other metropolis.