Setting study: Hacker’s Heart

First, I want to apologize for using these last few posts to talk about my behind-the-scenes work on developing my next novel.  Sometimes, I just need to write things out – and I’m one of the writers who always needs an outline, and cannot write a long story without one.  Normal stories will resume next week!

For Hacker’s Heart, the story is set in the future, and there have been some significant advancements in technology and how it affects everyday life.  However, despite so many different aspects of life, many things also remain reassuringly familiar…

Year: 2140

Location: Minneapolis, MN.  Why Minneapolis?  Because I’m fairly familiar with it, and it’s always nice to have a setting that’s well known (for anyone who’s actually been there).  Obviously, I can play around with the details a bit, as it’s over a hundred years in the future.

Technology: This is the big one.  There have been some advancements in many areas (cars now run on electricity, are much cleaner, and tend to look like rounded bumps, for example), but the biggest one is bio-augmentation.

Different types of bio-augments:

  • Physical augmentation.  These enhancements increase physical abilities, such as speed, strength, jumping ability, height, mass, or other similar traits.  Most of the time, these augments can be observed with a glance; strength still needs muscle, and so people with strength augments tend to be very bulky and dense.  Speed implants tend to cause a “twitchy” status, due to the increased movement speed even when at rest.  Obviously, augmentations that change body shape, such as height augmentations, are instantly visible.  
    • Physical augments tend to be seen more among the working class than the upper-middle class and rich, and are often used for jobs.
    • These augments tend to be cheaper than most others – and are also most often done in shoddy workshops where they may not take properly.
  • Mental augments.  These enhancements are designed to increase thinking speed or intelligence.  Designed to, at least.  These are brand-new, have not been fully tested, and don’t always seem to properly function – at least, not without causing some side effects.
    • Mental augments are rare, but occasionally seen.  They can’t be observed physically, so they are easier to keep hidden.
    • These augments tend to be most popular among the wealthy, who can both afford the incredibly high expense of these augments, and also make the most use of them.  They are also sometimes seen in people holding high jobs, such as prosecutors, surgeons and doctors, and some military agents.
    • Mental augments come in two “flavors.”  The first type allows the brain to access outside sources of information, such as the internet, with direct thought queries.  These augments allow people to almost instantaneously recall information from other sources.  The second type, newer and even less tested, is designed to enhance raw brainpower.  These appear to work, but often have strange side effects (vampires?).
  • Utility augments.  This third group of augmentations is the most varied, and serves as a “catch-all” for any augments that don’t fit in the first two groups.  These are often related to a job or career, or sometimes a hobby.
    • Shard has several of these utility augments, such as an ocular augment allowing him to see the flow of electricity and interfacing nannites at his fingertips to allow him to jack in directly to computer systems.
    • Other utility augments include GPS systems for people on the road, lockpicking tools for burglars or locksmiths, enhanced vision of various types, bone plating to protect against gunshots for soldiers, a blade that withdraws into the body for chefs or construction workers, implanted magnets, and other systems.
    • Many police officers have a radio implant so that they can hear chatter and take calls without needing an earbud.  Some also invest in lock picking tools or armor plating.  Heart, obviously, cannot use any of these implants.
    • Utility augments come in a wide range of qualities, from professional implants all the way down to back-alley jobs.  Obviously, paying more tends to lead to a better quality augment.
    • Another sub-class of utility augments includes those for vanity or appearance.  These vary widely, from breasts that adjust in size up to hair covering one’s entire body in various colors.  Some people even get enhancements to make them look more like animals, or creatures of myth and legend.
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