Suki I is set in the early 2030s, a bit over twenty years in the future from when it was written.
Incremental technology advances have made life easier for everybody. Places that were considered economic basket cases in the early 21st century are comfortable, modern, or modernizing.
The “industrial center” is fast becoming a thing of the past. Physical tools, for the production of durable goods, have become so inexpensive that anybody who wishes to create a product can create a product as long as they can operate the tools. The effect runs through the entire production chain, from extraction of raw materials to finished goods. The Open Source and Freeware movements have created a truly easy to use and easy to develop digital world.
The latest iteration of the Internet, Knowledge Net (K-Net), allows producers and consumers to make efficient, trusted transactions, resulting in cheaper and cheaper goods. The largest markets for massed produced goods are in Africa, Western Asia and Central Asia, with African producers rapidly filling the production gap between that continent and the others.
K-Net works across The Mesh. It began with a revolution in Information Assurance, which happened parallel to Mesh. Some fraud still occurs, mostly from failure to ship purchased goods, but rarely do hucksters get to try the same scam twice.
Most people search K-Net, and communicate across it, through “gogs”, which can take the form of almost any type goggle or spectacle. Audio is provided through ear buds of various styles. Gogs evolved from the MIT “Sixth Sense” project and similar devices. The new “hip” term for researching is “goggling”, e.g., “You just made that up, I am goggling it as you watch.”
Amy Alkon is the most cited advice columnist and advice author in the Americas. She is also one of the undisputed leaders, along with Tammy Bruce, of the Empowerism movement, a counter to the resurgance of "Victim-Feminism".Larry David, creator of Seinfeld, Curb Your Enthusiasm, and other projects, is known as the William Shakespeare of the 20th century due to the volume of phrases he created that have become part of common English speech. Seinfeld is not quite as popular with John Tagliaferro’s generation as it is with his parents and Suki’s generation. Many of Suki’s age peers were raised by their grandparents, the biggest group that still follow the show.
The US federal government has eliminated the graduated income tax and gone to a flat income tax of 10%. States and localities still have assorted other tax structures that either attract or repel business and residents.
A remnant of “the stimulus” and resulting hyperinflation from the “naughts and teens” is the requirement that all US citizens and workers in the US carry a federal issued credit card. The federal government and most other levels of government in the USA accept payment only from “fed card” accounts. The cards now carry high interest rates and fees, but no new interest or fees can be charged if the card is maxed out.
Commercial and even private banks are making a resurgence in the USA. The advantage to the consumer is the relative privacy of transactions and better interest rates than government rates. A court order is required for the authorities to gain access to an individual’s private or commercial bank records. Occasionally a court order might be needed for fed card records.
Fashion is entering another “loud” or “gaudy” phase. Electrochromic polymers are popular with women and some men. The material is able to morph colors continuously. The more flamboyant varieties can morph patterns too. Neither Suki nor John are into the newer trends, they stick with the classic styles. Natural fibers, natural leather, for most of their clothing. Natural wood, sometimes “lab wood” and leather furnishings, natural stone and traditional ceramic tile for home accents. Suki’s style of dress does have an industry name, “Classy Classic”.
Physical stores still exist. American Apparel is the largest clothing distributor in the world. They are also the largest custom clothing company, able to deliver clothes cut to custom measurements within 24 hours. However, seamstresses and tailors are having a resurgence too, with the ability to manufacture and tailor most any item within a few days and add a touch of personal flair to their garments.
Almost anything organic is reproducible in a “lab”. The labs resemble factories of the 20th century and early 21st. Most is indistinguishable from “natural” items from the wild or from farms. Certain high-end items, like Kobe beef, are not exactly the correct texture for many who are used to “farm” or clone Kobe.
Most varieties of food are still produced on farms, but are much more expensive than lab-foods. Cloned foods take the middle ground in price. The distinction between cloned and lab being there is still a “farm” involved, a whole organism being cloned, but with less variety between individuals. Free range holds the lowest price tier with the lowest margin for the producers.
All of these factors were coming together around the same period when the United States “opened” its borders to any and all immigrants (without a history of violent crime) and gave full amnesty to any illegals still in-country. The workload of the Office of Immigration (OOI) was greatly reduced by K-Net and they were prepared for the influx of people from around the world. However, the tide went out, instead of coming in. With new opportunities in their countries of origin, most chose to go back home and start businesses or otherwise apply their skills in their home towns and keep in touch with their friends around the world over K-Net. One odd thing, OOI was almost the only part of the federal government setup to use Mesh and K-Net. The rest, including most States, were restricted to the Global Information Grid, follow-on to the Internet, but before K-Net.
The immigrants were not kicked out, although people with certain political leanings like to think they were. Their home countries began allowing free markets. Partly as a result of watching the US, England, Germany, Poland and France quell piracy at sea and (insert flavor) Fascism on land, paving the way for free trade. Oddly, areas that were considered “tribalist” were some of the first to jump into free trade, when they discovered a Western world demand for their local styles.
As free-markets spread around the globe, to places that nobody ever dreamed they would sprout and flourish, the people who had been working in the USA spread American style individual freedom to their home countries. It was like a global version of the “Fall of the Berlin Wall”.
By the time of the story, Suki’s mother, Jung, is one of the few Korean speaking people remaining in North America. North Korea is no longer an isolated dictatorship. In 2030, at midnight, New Years Eve, her Army defected en mass across the border to the South. A very brief “war” resulted, with the South, and everybody else, thinking the exodus was the invasion they had prepared against for decades. Assimilation and industrialization progressed better than in Germany the previous century.
The basics of life become cheaper and cheaper, the Green Revolution has eliminated hunger except for the few places ruled by despots, like Russia, Venezuela and Iran.
In the US, the main divisions are between the “Old South” and the rest of the country. With the rest of the country still not noticing that the “Old South” is just as modern as anyplace else and major racism is gone from there, mostly concentrated in large cities with a ‘city’ mental mantra of “We are not racists, we are not in the South” or substituting “backward” for “racist”. It usually follows a slur directed at someone not expressing the current version of proper “political thought”, like the assumption that a person is heterosexual being called “heterosexist”. Somehow, heterophobia is not in common usage, but is in common practice.
The old chasm between Liberal and Conservative still exists and, along the theme of racism, the not-so-liberal Leftists accusing anybody who does not agree with them of having some sort of racist motive. Social Conservatism is almost extinct and the arguments usually revolve around “style”, social services and methods of taxation.
Republican and Democrat labels are even more meaningless than they were earlier in the century. The New Green Party is attempting to take the political ground formerly held by the Left-liberals. Various factions of the Republican Party attempt to claim the Conservative ground.
Arlington County, Virginia, where both Suki and John live, is far from a Libertarian Utopia, but it is the first densely populated portion of the Eastern Seaboard moving in that direction.
Virginia was the first portion of the US to reverse its public smoking policy, with Texas and Tennessee soon to follow, Californians are leaning in that direction too. For the past few years property owners have had the final say on smoking of tobacco products on their property. This mirrors the concealed carry of firearms policy, from the early part of the century, and continues. The property owner sets the policy. Concealed carry of firearms has been expanded. It is no longer limited to pistols. Shotguns and rifles may be carried concealed, as long as the person carrying is otherwise legal to carry the weapon.
The federal government is slowly getting out of the car business, with Jeep being the first to escape about seven years before Suki and John meet. The common misconception is that the government “saved jobs” by taking over everybody but Ford. However, Ford is now the ultimate vehicle in world-wide sales while GM and Chrysler have to use federal workers and federal incentives to produce and ‘sell’ cars. The United Auto Workers called a strike in 2013 and were replaced by the military and Department of Education employees until permanent federal Department of Transportation jobs were created for ‘creating’ transportation.
Any government car can be purchased with a government credit card without affecting the credit ceiling of the purchaser and they still do not sell.
Ann Coulter has moved socially Left, but is still somewhat of an economic conservative writing for Gawker. Ezra Klein has moved fiscally Right, is a cornerstone of Reason Magazine, and contributor to The National Review. Jonah Goldberg is the soon-to-retire man at the helm of National Review and hosts a morning talk show on K-Net with Ronald Bailey of Reason.
Suki is, in many ways, a throwback to previous generations. She seeks stability, not drama. Loves the Classics in music, imagery, and in text. Even her erotica is a bit dated. She has had her “wild” spells, on average not as wild as average for her generation, but she has had some harrowing encounters.
John is from a previous generation. He prefers the Classics too, like music “back when they played instruments for real”, classic authors, erotica with women in heels and stockings that stay one color and cars from before the government took over. Die-hard MOPAR man and refuses to buy a new one until “they get their shit straight and purge the Commies”.
Cosmetic surgery is incredibly common. Suki’s mother, Jung, an immigrant from Thailand of a Thai mother and Korean father, is frequently getting “knifed”, as the slang for procedures are called. She is a very attractive women, very fit, in her early 70s and appears to be a woman in her 40s with the body of a 20 or 30 something.
Neither John nor Suki are fans of cosmetic surgery. Suki from just being younger and well educated in human biology, John from a lack of interest. Suki appreciates that in John, even though it is not even a minor thought to him.
Drugs that were illegal in 20th century America are generally legal or ignored by the authorities, as is prostitution. Prostitution is kept “off the street” by proper enforcement in most places and haphazard “enforcement” in other places. In Virginia, if a merchant does not mind “people for hire” in their establishments, the police ignore it and only appear when called. Most “real human for pay” sex is transacted on the K-Net local lists.
Machinery and gadgetry abound for sexual pleasure. However, there is still a premium on live female contact, with a smaller premium on live male contact.
Major cities, like Washington, DC, issue prostitution tickets to people on the street. Sometimes seemingly at random, the way they issued parking tickets in the early part of the century and in the previous century. Unescorted women of apparent means are especially vulnerable to this tactic.
Some jurisdictions, like DC, New York City and Seattle have an electronic misdemeanor system, where the video evidence of a police officer is sent directly to a judge, and to an appellate judge for signature. The convicted have one hour to file an electronic appeal, but if it is not approved in three hours then the appeal is rejected. Appeals on pulp have no such expiration. The judiciary staff for this process outnumbers the appeal approval staff 100 to 1 in most jurisdictions. Virginia has done away with this practice. Texas and Wyoming never implemented it.
Government security clearances ignore misdemeanors, due to the sheer volume from the major cities. Non-government employers do pay attention and refuse to hire people, at their will, for any offense they deem inappropriate for their activity.
Activist groups protest in Arlington, Virginia, frequently, against the “new plantation system”. In Virginia, the police cannot use “voyeur cam” evidence, nor government security cam evidence, as the only evidence against people for traffic violations. An officer must be present to issue a ticket. This results in a “misunderstanding” with drivers from DC and Maryland having the impression that they can do anything if a police officer is not present.
Northern Virginia and Manhattan have the highest concentration of voyeur cams in the USA and their images can be used in civil suits. When DC and MD drivers injure people or, in most cases, damage very expensive vehicles of their victims, they are held liable in VA courts. They frequently do not have enough insurance coverage to cover the damage and lose their homes. Then the protestors come in and disrupt traffic for hours or days because of the “plantation boss” who just “won” a house in DC, to pay for their ongoing medical treatment, of course.
Voyeur cam evidence is frequently used in divorce cases, after a long period of “no fault but I knew they were cheating” divorces. Divorce for cause is still on the books and is being used frequently to transfer great wealth from men of means to men of looks and youth. An unexpected development in the same sex marriage front.
Bondage, Discipline, Submission/Sadism/Masochism is still generally closeted, but the themes are becoming more open in fashion and in establishments following the theme. Almost every town has some sort of BDSM themed something, like a bar or diner. Larger cities have many. It is still customary to put any take-out purchases in a plain paper bag. Many BDSM fashions are confused with “Steampunk” style, the most popular fiction style.
Day by Day, by Chris Muir is the most popular English language daily cartoon on earth.
On this backdrop, Suki and John are just two people who want to pursue their chosen careers, be left alone by the government and other busybodies, and find someone of the opposite sex who shares their values, likes and dislikes. Just someone who will threat them nice will do.
This is the story of Suki.