The Life Online characters live at a globetrotting pace reflecting a future of near instant communication and rapid travel. Read about the locations featured in The Motion Clue as envisioned in the story’s 22nd century timeframe. If you visit any of these locations today, contact Case and let her know whether or not the book’s predictions are already visible in the location today.
The list is in alphabetical, not chronological, order from the story
Concepcion, Chile and the southeast Pacific Ocean
Seeing an opportunity to build a new economic center in the southern half of the country, the government of Chile transformed the coastal area near the valley city of Concepcion into a global supply and recreation center for subvee crews. Subvee stands for submarine vessels, submersible ships that are the offspring of a cruise ship and a submarine. When land-based resources began to grow ever more scarce, countries turned to the unexploited depths of the ocean floor to search for minerals and other treasures. Subvees were created as underwater towns that could operate in the ocean for months while scientists and miners explored nearby. Originally the size of the ships was limited by the lack of ports to dock in, but the construction of coastal Concepcion changed all that. The government tore up the rocky coastline, reclaimed land more than two miles into the sea and encouraged foreign investors to build hotels, restaurants, shopping malls and playgrounds for adults and children all along a ten mile man-made bay. Subvees, some carrying as many as 25,000 crew, dock at the city year round and allow their passengers to frolic for weeks in a city unimpeded by rigorous control. As intended, the investment produced a multi-billion dollar service economy, and as expected, attracted all form of criminal behavior. For rogue technologists, the city was a perfect place to hide amongst the thousands of multi-ethnic and transient visitors who dominated the streets. For global law enforcement, it represented an ongoing challenge, one of the few places where surveillance had only limited value.
Brazzaville, The Congo
Human migration, in and out, has torn, whipped and transformed the borders of African nations for centuries. The outcome from the latest chapter of this bracing story is instantly visible in the streets of the capital of The Republic of Congo where continuously arriving Chinese and Indian immigrants have come to form half of the city’s population. But this fact is a sidebar to the impact of the country’s decision to continue to maintain French as a national language. Unlike other European languages contained deeply within their territory walls, French defiantly hangs on as a shared cultural sensibility, one given an extraordinary break by a global elite that decided to master the language as their unique skill. And when this elite ships its old computers off to willing takers in French-speaking lands, a door is inadvertently opened for rogue technologists to gain entry into a closed world. This crack transforms the city into an unlikely incubator for the technology behind the undetectable drones. In Congo, as in all struggling countries, the government has had no time or opportunity to connect everyone to an omnipresent Network, a perfect situation for rogue techs, and their wealthy French-speaking clients all over the world.
Author’s note: this is the only country location in The Motion Clue that I have not yet visited
Part of a triangle of technology excellence that includes Bangalore and Hyderabad, the capital of the Indian state of Tamil Nadu is the poster child of the skyscraper construction boom that transformed developing world cities. In an effort to move people from slums, and to better manage scarce water and energy resources, governments began building cities of inter-connected buildings where all services, employment and residences could be provided. In Chennai, it had the added effect of protecting people from the rising waters of the Bay of Bengal, and the thickening air that was choking large parts of the world. But despite rapid economic growth, the crush of people who came to live in the area still created scenes of the homeless sleeping in the streets, and a maddening rush hour gridlock of vehicles. One can just hear the honking horns, and sense the sleeping bodies on the pavement, as the Bash twins make their way to their residence while trying to avoid Global Intelligence. For accomplished technologists, like the Bashes, the triangle was a permanent destination. People could work in all sectors of the city, and have access to the best tech infrastructure and hard-working minds that could be locally recruited. But it also meant that they could be found, Chennai was not normally a city for rogues to hide in, which is what made it possible to pin them down.
The gloriously green Emerald Isle has given up on trying to contain its restless population and turned over much of its fabled capital city, and still flourishing countryside, to tourists. Almost completely dominated by foreigners, the city attracts endless partyers and the rural areas, a stream of visitors who are not used to seeing unlimited water, thick foliage or leprechauns. Still an island of unspoiled beauty, it is also a magnet for technologists, both legitimate and rogue, who use the empty factories, wide open spaces, and world-class infrastructure to innovate without government intervention. As one of the last free places for drifting labor, the country is considered a natural territory for supporting new technological developments, and a first class location for people to hide in.
Gaborone and rural Botswana
The undetectable drones were first active at a solar energy plant near Gaborone, the capital of the southern African nation of Botswana. This land-locked developed country has an extensive solar power energy infrastructure built by Chinese companies. Clean, comfortable, prosperous and crime free, Botswana is in a painstaking struggle to rebuild its animal population, and to maintain the migration routes that made the country a favorite spot for travelers. The country is also debateably still home to the traditional San (still called Bushmen today) people who have attempted to continue a migrant and pastoral lifestyle against the push of encroaching cell towers. This location provides the scenes that triggered the book’s title. The actions of the San and our own lack of understanding about the technology that we have built, collide to provide the next level of insight into what we may have to do next.
Grand Rapids, Manitoba, Canada
This tiny town constructed on a sliver of land at the northern end of the Canadian province of Manitoba’s extensive lake country is the westernmost outpost of the Hudson Bay Hydroelectric and Water Reservoir Complex (HBHW). HBHW was constructed by a private consortium backed by the governments of Canada, the United States, Mexico and the Central American countries to create reliable sources of renewable energy and freshwater. The complex connects dozens of dams, turbines, transmission towers, lakes and reservoirs, to service a population of over seven hundred million people from the Arctic to the Panama Canal. The entire complex is a high-tech marvel that employs almost no humans on the ground, but is constantly monitored by dozens of civilian and military stations within the region, and at back-ups around the world. The electronic glitch and tower explosion at the complex begins the novel, stunning officials in charge of protecting the resources, and setting off a global panic to find out what went wrong.
The great British capital stands unchallenged as the global city of Europe, the aged and shining magnet looming from the edge of a continent as a must-have home for rich and poor alike. Interminably soaked in its traditions, it is also a sprawl of innovation and futuristic development as more than twelve million people pack into its environs. Although Washington and Brussels have the main speaking parts for the western world, it is London where the global team goes to coordinate with British Intelligence in the investigation into the undetectable drones. Two members of the expert team are based in the city, and the working language of everyone is English. London provides the solid base of stability, reminding all that they are not bound to one place, and that if an alternative is required, the city, once again, is there to provide it.
Washington, DC, USA
The capital of the United States of America is one of three anchors of global stability (the others are Beijing and Brussels). For security reasons, the city layered one of the world’s most intrusive sensor networks on top of the omnipresent camera surveillance that already existed. The monument filled National Mall is ringed by high-end skyscraper neighborhoods, connected by driverless transports and blanketed by status reporting from The Network. From here, cooperating nations can quickly mobilize international teams of experts to work together on issues of unified concern. The federal US government, however, is usually functioning at a standstill as it waits for orders from the most populous states – California, Texas and Florida – before implementing any new directives. But The Network’s pre-programmed instructions actually helps the federal government sidestep state intervention whenever global action is required. (The same technology-driven solution helps Brussels move faster than its members states in the European Union). This reality makes the city the global coordinating center for managing the events triggered by the undetectable drone that sets off the action in The Motion Clue.
Other locations featured in The Motion Clue
Aberdeen, Scotland – The North Sea is monitoring home for a spectacular wind turbine farm providing electricity to millions of Europeans. The monitoring station at Aberdeen is the first to realize that a turbine has gone down. This gray Scottish city has changed little in a hundred years and is still a major energy center.
Alexandria, Egypt – Beautifully fabled, but constrained by reality, North Africa’s great Mediterranean city is a crowded, poorly managed, unhealthy sprawl with an undercurrent of sophistication and lust that provides one of the book’s most unexpected realizations.
Aspen, and rural Colorado, United States – The Western Hemisphere Defense Command is located in a mountainside near the wealthy recreation city of Aspen. Since only limited numbers can afford to live or play near the slopes, the regional governments feel secure meeting nearby as they manage security issues. But when the transmission tower goes down in Grand Rapids, and they are confronted with an unprecedented crisis, the soft Rocky Mountain snow is of little comfort or consequence.
Curitiba, Brazil – The southeast city with a reputation for sustainable development has one of the world’s largest wave farms off its shores. As renewable energy resources seem to be a favorite target for undetectable drones, this well-off, clean and organized city is drawn into the global battle at its most climatic moment.
Hong Kong, China – Now part of an endless megalopolis simply referred to as The Pearl River Delta region, Hong Kong island is one of the world’s most expensive places to live and work. The Chinese are the leaders in building skyscraper cities, and Hong Kong with its relentless fight against earthquakes, floods and cyclones, provides the foundation for building material science and experiment. The city is just one place to find billionaires in China, but the most likely if you’re looking for someone who deals with the English speaking world, especially those in the Caribbean.
Isla Mujeres, Mexico – The wealthy playground for Mexico’s high-end tourists, the Caribbean island preserves its pristine atmosphere by allowing only low-rise, low-density establishments to cater to those who can afford to hide.
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia – The southeast Asian capital is one of the world’s best examples of how to make skyscraper living look pretty. The cities interconnected buildings are draped in flowers and vines, and host a world-class collection of dining and shopping options. The perfect place for a French-Arabian pharmacist to be having dinner with an Angolan prince when an Egypt-based Brit is trying to find them.
Majorca, Spain – The last Balearic island still open to regular tourists, Majorca has lost none of its charm. For the last hundred years it has remained a party island for the world’s moving youth, and a dreamy outpost for tourists who have been everywhere.
Melbourne and Tasmania, Australia – Having switched to renewable wave technology, the water between the island and the Victoria state capital finds itself a target for the oncoming undetectable drones. The city itself provides the fatal background that nurtured and launched Zylen Blain’s rogue tech career.
New York, NY, United States – The always-on glitter of the magnetic Northeast city is still attracting daring doers from around the globe who want to be number one in industries from fashion to high finance. It’s international cred is anchored by the headquarters of the United Nations. The organization receives the first call when an international issue like undetectable drones menacing subvees emerges.
Oregon, United States – The windswept coast of this northwest state is a wave farm destination for the undetectable drones. Rain-soaked, perpetually green, strict environmental laws have managed to keep both harmful development, people and investment from changing the area.
Saint Lucia, West Indies – This Eastern Caribbean island, like others in the region, is an expensive getaway for billionaires, their friends and families. Governments typically lose their attempt to chase down the money as soon as surveillance strikes the turquoise waters of the surrounding sea. Protecting the idyllic playgrounds from rising water helped draw the wealthy to the region, and fighting to maintain the status quo is what keeps them there.
Tallinn, Estonia – A hotbed of high tech drama, both legit and rogue technologists love this Baltic capital for its beautifully preserved squares and streets that have enfolded the city’s past while cultivating some of the globe’s most gifted tech workers.
Taitung, Taiwan, China – The Pacific Ocean waters off this sprawling industrial city provide wave electricity to the island’s southeast population. The installation is the most advanced in the world when it finds itself on guard against the incoming drones.
Topeka, Kansas, United States – Factory, prison, security – the great, grand flatlands of North America contain all that and more. As the literal center of operations for the US military, and a reliable, well-educated location for manufacturing, the sleepy, prosperous city is a focal point of the drone investigation.