A friend once told me that her life is like a rocky plane ride.
Sometimes she’s flying high in a warm day, all engine lights are go, and things are running smooth in the blue skies and yellow sun.
Other times she’s arcing down into a valley, smoke trailing from the tail, thunderstorm and lightning flashes, trees reaching up and scratching the hull. And just before she crashes into the approaching mountain, she manages to pull up, barely avoiding a deadly impact.
It’s great when she escapes that tragedy, but her world never really gets high enough to be safe in the clouds. Always there’s a threat of a mountain, and a dive is imminent sooner or later.
It got me thinking about what my world is like, and being a fan of sci fi fantasy, of course they’d be an alternate reality spin on it.
Inspired by Netflix’s sleeper favourite and graphic novel adaptation Snowpiercer, here’s what I came up with:
In an apocalyptic event that occurred centuries ago known as the Flush, my world is covered in dark sludge. There are only a few trees, few animals, and no untainted rivers or oceans – some people even doubt that there ever was. Humanity survives in cities like massive oil rigs, and those brave enough to venture the world scavenging for valuable material do so in giant all-terrain vehicles.
I’m the captain of Sludgetreader, a huge 10-cylinder diesel powered beast with 8 giant low-pressure tyres and two segments.
It looks something like this –
That’s the Burlak ATV by Makar, only my sff version is much bigger. Like, this big –
The first segment is for operations, divided into two layers. The upper layer contains the bridge, conference room, lab and medical bay. The lower layer is engineering. The second segment is for habitation, and also has two layers, the upper being the crews’ quarters and recreation, the lower being cargo and launch bays.
You can see it’s an intimidating machine, so foraging the world requires a trusty crew –
Ok, that’s the crew from Star Trek: the Next Generation’s Enterprise, but you get the idea.
Every morning we start her up, let the big noisy engine purr for a bit to get warm, black smug billowing out great exhaust pipes, and make our way to points of interest in search of metal, fuel, and various parts that can be traded for food and supplies.
It can be dangerous going. Lots of hazards can severely damage the ATV, and endanger all aboard: unstable sites, navigation errors, pirates. Sometimes this happens –
But Sludgtetreder’s big tires, powerful engine, and resourceful crew are perfectly capable of pulling us out.
Take a look at this video to see what a day traversing the environment might be like. It’s really some Russian guys traversing the Arctic in their Burlak ATV, but just substitute all that ice for sludge and you get the idea.
So that’s a glimpse at what my world is like, sort of. What’s the sci fi fantasy version of your world? Let me know in the comments.