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Created Saturday 23 December 2023

Christchurch Flying Club, S1 E3, Intermission 1: Exploring the contradictions inherent in 4TKE1's portrayals of their world so far

*This episode is out of character.*

Hello listeners.

Our friend ZL4TKE1 has no name or gender (as far as we know), but has a callsign, friends, abusive former family, an aviation obsession (which must be especial if it is notable in a society made primarily of aviators), a small debt to repay the manor for skiving off the late-summer harvest (but I thought fishermen brought in the majority of the country's calories? we'll put a pin in that one), and an outwards orientation in a city known for its xenophobia (which it has without racism; one of E1's best friends is descended from people who were from Bharat).

E1 lives in present-day Ōtautahi/Christchurch, the above-water-at-high-tide area of which is still called Ōtautahi/Christchurch by 2260. The government combines aspects of feudalism and democracy. It is a democracy in that the mayor is regularly and bloodlessly overthrown by election (this I have not yet written; I'm making this episode for my own benefit as much as for exposition to the listener), and in most cases absolutely considers themself primus inter pares, with emphasis on the pares (equals). I have not yet written other sections of Canterbury Region government, but I assume there is a county council. It is feudal in that every resident would today be considered an unfree serf. Freedom of movement exists, but if you are a resident, or a transient when the season for a task comes around, you owe the city and its country fields a work commitment, from the fruits of which you are entitled to a share according to need. The work commitments (agriculture, firewood, structural and decorative wood, electrical grid maintenance, etc) are often so oversubscribed that skiving is explicitly tolerated, and policies have been developed (but not yet covered, except briefly in issue 3) to optimize the amount of leave for people who for whatever reason cannot work, or who can convince the overseer that they'll do something otherwise useful (such as E1 did when they jumped off a hill in a hang-glider on a windy harvest day to snap some photos in conjunction with their final flying test). Fishermen are generally exempt, because their occupation brings in enough calories alone to feed the region, and fish eaters (which form a slim majority) seem as healthy as everyone else (although realistically they probably have some undetected toxicity). Other than this, the authority of a central government down in Otago is accepted, but communiqués to the area go unanswered and authorities from Queenstown (?) have never visited and expected to be treated as superiors.

In this intromission episode, I will gather all the "put a pin/tag in that"'s from the notes from episodes 1, 2 and 3 which are not on the tapes, and I will embark on a cursory exploration of them.

Episode 1 has no "pins".

Episode 2. Medium-area power grids after the collapse that never came. Life-extension programmes, unreliable metering, auto-triggered alarms on Morse code, rolling outages based on when the wind blows and the sun shines and the dams are full.

The collapse that never came is an event that wasn't. In this part of New Zealand, the collapse happened slowly. Nuclear weapons weren't aimed here. Life... just kinda kept on. Fibres and satcoms went down. Electricity grids had to reduce their maximum power because of mechanical wear on overhead lines and some had to disconnect areas entirely because of water ingress in underground utilities. Heat pumps nearing the ends of their service lives were replaced with innovative, though noisy, ones made from recycling the blocks of the petrol cars that overwhelmingly went unused due to the loss of petroleum imports and the lack of coal to liquids technology. Water became scarcer and scarcer as a maritime-influenced mesic temperate zone became a subtropical steppe (I'm well aware this is implausible; it makes a good story, though). Aotearoa English deviated further from northern hemisphere English, predominantly spoken in Northumbria, Scotland, urban Norway, and the new megalopoleis of Canada like Fort Nelson, Grand Prairie, and Iqaluit. E1 speaks archaic (as in, from the 2020s) British received pronunciation, because that's what I speak (in-universe it's because they like how it sounds on the ancient tapes compared to the more brash Australo-Aotearoan dialect), and everyone understands them, but canonically, they understand words I don't. Things other people say should be understood as overdubs from Aotearoa English.

Most working computers are laptops powered by lead-acid batteries, the production of which is very polluting, although the risks from this have been managed relatively well, worse than they are in developed countries today. Perhaps 35% of the computers in circulation in the area today are in circulation by 2260. Most have either been broken up for parts, or destroyed in failed repair attempts, or are in the process of being repaired into desktops, necessary because the lower-quality new components replacing things like capacitors, resistors are far too large and had to be bypassed off the board, rendering the laptop case unusable. Many have reconditioned, mechanical key switches made from wood, scavenged plastics, and some of the precious copper, allocations of which are strictly controlled, instead of the stock membrane keyboards, which also necessitates new, heavier cases.

Episode 2 also. we're going to explore themes of pestilence and recurrent epidemic. Virulent coronaviruses are the new "consumption", but they have the benefit of a pre-collapse world which generated insane amounts of data about airborne plagues, and the 40-year recurrent epidemics of anosmia and chronic workshyness, recognized as a disease without a cure and not as a moral failing, are often mitigated with some success using respirators makeshifted out of available parts, although respirator orders are rarely kept in place long enough because for most they amount to stay-home orders. The narrator character is ever the antiquarian, and they feel the air is cursed. More antiquarianism: They run Linux on the computer they sometimes borrow, even though the usual choice these days is a Lisp OS, with which all of the radios and hard-line networks work. Linux is only used for radio routers, and is maintained locally by a team of antiquarian-educated security researchers and computer hardware bricolagers.

Ep 3. This isn't a pin, but "a country called Oregon" - what happened after the 2020s? Or is E1 not that well aware of world history to know that Oregon was a state-member of the United States of America, and not an independent country?

This whole thing has a plot hole. It's very unlikely that Christchurch's rainfall will go so low. It's low because that makes a good story.