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 Unbroken Line as envisioned in the story’s 22nd century timeframe. If you visit any of these locations, contact Case and let her know whether or not the predictions in the book are already visible in the location today.
The list is in alphabetical, not chronological, order from the story
Cape Canaveral and Cocoa Beach, Florida, United States
Whether you’re interested in the space program or not, the public tour of the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral is must see for travelers in the area. But on the other side of floor-to-ceiling glass windows unwary tourists are looking at a secretive U.S.-European satellite monitoring operation that becomes the center of the tension for a group of dedicated technologists who had previously had no exposure to global security. From inside the control room, the team fights to avoid a war between the U.S. and Russia, while outside visitors recall bygone days of astronauts, suits and bikinis plowing the soft, yellow sand of the area’s beaches. Decades of intervention by the Army Corps of Engineers have preserved Florida’s barrier islands from erosion and inundation from rising Atlantic waters. Like a beacon of security against Mother Nature’s threats, Cape Canaveral still holds as a point of reference for restless imaginations and the hope of voyaging to undiscovered planets.
Cape Town, South Africa
The southernmost populated spot on the African continent, stunning Cape Town’s beautiful setting at the foot of Table Mountain has held up indomitably well. A sprawling giant of industry, technology and South African glamour, the capital of Western Cape province is still the country’s most multi-cultural, multi-hued urban center. Loving developed to maintain comforting beaches and green space, geography and high costs also contributed to limiting population growth and preserving natural splendor. Determined to stay in cities where they can easily blend in with the local population, the Bash sisters find a peaceful home but frustrating livelihood on the peninsula until Slater James arrives to lure them back into the demands of Special Command. From the old English comfort of an all-girl’s boarding school to a high-tech warehouse ladened with gear for a new digital battle, the city provides the backdrop for the wide contrasts still existing in a world where some leap forward and others stroll far behind.
Castries and southwest St. Lucia
Briefly introduced in The Motion Clue, this Eastern Caribbean island is now Zylen’s permanent base of operations as he takes advantage of his richest client’s invitation to stay at her sprawling villa. The client, like many wealthy global billionaires, their friends and families, had become increasingly frustrated by ineffectual Western governments, and resettled where they had more control and fewer intrusions. In exchange for total security, stability and hard currency, Caribbean governments gave up the deep penetration of Network control and only maintained the superficial infrastructure required for global compliance. With limited trade plying the region’s turquoise waters, the locals rely on endless tourists, service companies and vacation planners to maintain their prosperity in an increasingly competitive world. At heart still a sleepy fishing island, St. Lucia offered its new residents an unparalleled tranquility as they rested within its serenity, while people like Zylen wreaked havoc around the world.
General Santos City, Mindanao, The Philippines
The 800-year Muslim presence on the island of Mindanao in the southern Philippines remains a gripping legacy of the country’s history and location on five seas. At its southernmost tip, General Santos City is a bustling port and industrial center, a jobs magnet for tens of thousands of migrants who arrive by boat every year. The newcomers come from all over southeast Asia bringing Muslim, Christian, Buddhist and a variety of other beliefs into a once civil war ridden island that has transformed into a center of trade and commerce. A thousand miles from the country’s capital in Manila, the southern islands set their own agenda for education, religion and Network control. When the government changes its policy towards undocumented migrants, a single operator coast guard station becomes the first sight for the return of an undetectable drone that takes aim at the Filipino military and sets off the next global investigation for Special Command.
Nearly 2,300 miles inland from the Atlantic Ocean, the city of Manaus is enrobed by the diverse ancient Amazon rainforest and sits aside the Negro River, one part of the stunning two color waters that join to form the world’s second longest river. A busy, bustling city of millions, Manaus is the central starting point for Amazon River expeditions, and the industrial center for the continued felling of rainforest trees. Here the forest has lost none of its omnipresence despite decades of logging and protest. Locals have no patience for mass clearings and the invention of auto-saws capable of wiping out forests in minutes only serves to further fuel their wrath until an undetectable drone emerges to join their fight. Far from Brazil’s mega cities on the Atlantic coast, the region’s workers and military population are forced to improvise to capture the attention of supervisors who may be able to help them when an enemy they cannot fight starts firing.
Looming over Europe from its perch 1,600 miles inland from London, the Russian Federation’s stern capital is the most populous city in Europe. The beating heart of a solid people contains every urban option layered on top of an unmatched history wracked deep in its own blood. A sense of trepidation shadows all visitors to Moscow, including Roman Francon who is forced to try and negotiate with the locals on their own soil. All parts of the old city remain, Red Square, the Kremlin and the great cathedrals. And all parts of the Soviet era have been replaced by steel and glass skyscrapers, landscaped and flowered parks, and garish shopping malls selling every bauble made in China and beyond. This is a city of pounding contradictions, too large to be completely prosperous, too rich to be ignored. Global governments have engaged with Russia through Moscow for decades, but when the source of their contact is also the focus of a potential battle, the communication options rise from tense to terrifying for everyone involved.
Outer space, The Universe
Humankind’s earth defying quest to connect with other worlds is operating at new heights in the next century. At the same time the endless black sky has become a giant parking lot as technology frees civilians to operate their own satellites. Soon anonymous companies backed by rogue technologists and their billionaire friends are launching their own communication and private network systems into a realm already dominated by governments, spies and the military. This crushing contest sets off the book’s crucial global investigation when a U.S. and Russian satellite spar for the same orbit, triggering a Network reaction no one could expect. The last frontier is unexplored territory for a team of scientists and the thinking agents from Special Command.
Philip Island, Australia
Less than one hundred miles miles across Westernport Bay from Melbourne, Philip Island joins thousands of other preserved locations around the globe as a pampered and protected ecological zone. Here the story begins with Zylen lying on the ground watching little penguins emerge from the sea to find burrows on land for the night. The quiet park also sets the stage for the story’s most unlikely collision course between a rogue technologist and a global leader over a technology slowly transforming how people view death and dying. Although the site is highlighted for its natural wonders, the all-tourism island is also a sportsman’s paradise with renowned surfing, auto and motorcycle racing, bicyclist ways and hiking trails. One of the locations permitting only limited changes over the century, if you see it now, you will not be surprised – except of course by overhead surveillance drones.
For those who remember 1986, the words, Reykjavik and Presidential summit conjure up memories of the beginning of the end of the Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union. For the sake of avoiding spoilers, the rest of the explanation is left to your imagination. For those that remember Iceland, the tiny European nation’s geography has not changed. The occasional volcano blows ash across the glacier but the island still boils underneath. Nearly empty of people, the country functions more as a national park for Europeans who wish to explore the opportunity to see wide-open spaces, breath (relatively) fresh air, and soak in the salt water coated hot springs before the rising temperatures make the relaxing pastime unbearable.
Rio de Janerio, Brazil
Bright, bouncing, packed from hills to beaches with every human color of the rainbow, Rio is not only Brazil’s envied second city but also one of the world’s favorite playgrounds. Located at the merging of Guanabara Bay with the Atlantic Ocean, with the massive territory of its homeland behind, every move the world has to offer comes easily to its flashy citizens and millions of gawking tourist who come to watch samba every year. The magnetic pull of its contrasts lures two bitter enemies to its pulsating beaches. Zylen and Kadie, representing the world’s split between the law and order guardians of The Network, and the rogue world bent on destroying government control. The setting of their showdown provides a stark contrast as Brazilians, full of life, oblivious to drones and satellites, and bent on partying, dance, clap, and shout around the world’s frightening crisis with only Cristo Redentor watching from above.
Washington, D.C., United States
The concentrated efforts of diplomats and technologists are headquartered in the American capital, as it becomes the investigation hub of the latest undetectable drone incidents. The southern city at the edge of the northeast is a crossroads for credentialed foreigners, the media, lobbyists, lawyers and advertisers. The protected inner core of the National Mall is blanketed in every direction by distant high-rise clusters housing millions who flocked into its protected umbrella from every corner of the country. To this mix, Special Command summons all members of the temporary team to meet there first, and continues to use the city as a base of operations as it liaises with U.S. military officials. The city provides both a temporary home for Kadie, Roman and their team, and the ultimate camouflage location for the eventual chess game with their rogue tech nemesis, Zylen Blain.
The most storied name in market towns is a loud, fast tourist trinket center dragging thousands of visitors through its ruins and beaches every year. Barely two centuries removed from its final years as a slave trading port, the independently minded island section of the United Republic of Tanzania is an oil and gas fueled multi-tiered visitor center attracting a mix of foreigners and visitors alike. Halfway down the eastern side of the African continent and a step into the Indian Ocean, the island is a reliable getaway for world travelers who want to hide. In a quest to find those with whom she shares common ground to discuss the details of her investigation, Kadie travels nearly 8,000 miles from the other side of the world to track down two old friends in their romantic hideaway. The encounter stirs up more than clues as the delightful treasure island delivers a sensory overload in immediate need of curing.
Other locations featured in The Unbroken Line
The second largest city on the entire west coast of the African continent, the finance, commerce and industrial hub of Morocco is the region’s reluctant Westernized treasure. Completely modernized and equipped for the advanced technology world, the city is lined with shops, restaurants, and business options that leave few visitors imagining they are in the Maghreb. The location’s appearance in the story is tied to recalling how the city fits a relaxed and cool image for a generation of technologist North Africans who call the region home.
The Chaco desert, Bolivia-Paraguay border area
The Chaco’s desert sprawl has extended through the decades to encompass more of Paraguay and Bolivia’s land. Left uncontrolled by decades of neglect, the area now holds dozens of “outer” towns where those who are truly hoping to avoid The Network, find a tired plot to revive and rebuilt. The location proves a sufficient hiding place even for a Special Command agent.
Denver/Aspen, Colorado, United States
Rugged Colorado is the definition of the U.S. west with its mining towns and cowboy legends providing a backdrop for successful technology and financial companies marinating in the volatile weather. But somewhere in the two hundred miles of forest, park and mountains between Denver, the state capital and Aspen, its most jet-setting ski town is the Western Hemisphere Defense Command military complex. The complex provides the isolated and secure scene that almost sets off a war between the United States and Russia when generals are tapped to believe the messages subordinates are delivering to them.
Beautifully preserved Korcula, the main town on the Croatian Adriatic island, retains the towers and fortifications of Europe’s medieval past. Strong wines, gentle olive oils and an almost sensual beat to the pace of tourists nearly prevent Maltine Krann from departing to join the Special Command team’s mission.
Los Angeles and the central coast, California, USA
The West Coast metropolis makes a brief appearance as the storage location for Alannis Solar’s DNA. For Seren, the drive from her central coast home along the Pacific Coast highway has not changed. One can still bask in the fazed tranquility of being trapped between the world’s biggest body of water and the imposing collapsing mountain cliffs holding back thirty million inhabitants to provide an isolated scene.
One of the beach city gems on Spain’s Costa del Sol makes a brief appearance for a romantic rendezvous for a couple whose work has split them between Moscow and Zanzibar at a crucial turning point when the threat of global non-cooperation looms over their heads.
New York, NY, United States
America’s old fashion power center constrains no ambitious minds. A deafening engine of commerce, high fashion, advertising, entertainment, food, and tourism, the skyscraper-dominated skyline is an attraction luring millions to its streets and onto their glory or downfall. From New York, Special Command directs the diplomatic arm of its operations as a uniquely tasked division of the United Nations Security Council. The initial instructions for reconvening the Special Command team begin and end with a mandate from global governments based in America’s biggest city.
The Cape Canaveral team’s European counterparts are based in this French industrial city in the mid-Pyrenees when the world confronts a crisis between the U.S. and Russia.
Vancouver, BC, Canada
The stunning setting between ocean and water enraptures Canada’s largest western city where Hagen has gone to settle before being pulled back into global cyber security by a visit from Special Command.