About the World of the WhethermenBy Jeff Bouley / Deacon Blue
The world that the Whethermen and the rest of humanity (and transhumanity) occupy isn’t so different from our own. But to help you stave off confusion as you wander this place and experience the adventures therein, giving you some clarity on what is different is probably only fair.
Up to the year 1963, history is almost identical to our own, except that three metropolitan areas exist well before that date in the United States that do not exist in our own.
One is New Judah, Connecticut, just east of White Plains, New York, and situated on the shore of the Long Island Sound. New Judah is the county seat of Lark County, which is only slightly larger than the city itself (the city is roughly 65% of the county, with another 25% being small suburban areas, and the remaining 10% unincorporated). New Judah, with a population of just over 5 million people (and another 1.2 million in the rest of the county), is a fierce economic rival of New York City and was founded 16 years before its larger neighbor.
Another metropolitan area with which you would not be acquainted is Gryphon, Nevada, and surrounding suburban communities—the city itself having been founded in 1921 but not really becoming an economic power until the 1980s, when it competed heavily with the Silicon Valley area of California in the computer-related industries. While not a major gambling destination (Las Vegas, Reno and Carson City all fare better in that kind of business), the city of 700,000 people is home to a major biotech hub and a computer-oriented industry that is now centered mostly on artificial intelligence technologies. Gryphon is northwest of Las Vegas, in Clark County.
The third metropolitan area is one that you are familiar with, and that is the area around Erie, Pennsylvania. However, in the world of the Whethermen, Erie sits in the shadow of the 2.4 million residents of Marksburgh—considered by many to be the most dangerous, decayed, corrupt and crime-ridden city in the United States.
After 1974 is when history begins to most sharply diverge from our own with the identification of the first confirmed and officially recognized transhuman—bringing the world of comic books into reality with the realization that humans could have superpowers. Other transhumans began to be identified shortly thereafter, and it is estimated that perhaps 10% of the world’s population now possesses at least minor transhuman characteristics, with tens of thousands bearing significant powers.
Another deviation from our history actually takes place 11 years before the discovery of transhumans, and that was the creation of microprocessors, which in our own world weren’t created until the early 1970s. As such, personal computers began to see massive rates of usage in households in the 1980s (instead of the 1990s, as in our world), and by the year 2010, small tablet-style “pocket” computers are capable of storing a terabyte of data. As such, academic and corporate computers are massively powerful, and breakthroughs have been made in creating rudimentary artificial intelligence systems by 2010.
Also, in 1981, a third major U.S.political party entered the governmental scene to challenge the Democrats and Republicans—the Freedom Party. The party has highly right-wing leanings and is centered largely around the promotion of greater corporatism in the United States, a drastically reduced federal government, and the protection of “traditional” humans against transhumans, who are deemed a biological, moral and social hazard. The Democratic and Republican parties still outweigh the Freedom Party in terms of political muscle, but in 2010 the “Freemen” hold 19 of the 100 seats in the Senate, 62 of the 435 seats in the House of Representatives, and eight governorships—and they made a strong showing in the 2004 and 2008 presidential elections, capturing 13% of the popular vote in 2004 and 20% in 2008.
Although it hasn’t had the force of the Freedom Party, the Green Party in the world of the Whethermen is actually a serious and growing political force, and it holds several seats in both houses of the U.S. Congress, as well as two governorships.