Awhile back, I made an off-the-cuff comment on Twitter about "rural cyberpunk." Visiting where I grew up this week (map above), I think there's a lot more there than initially met the eye, and it's time for some open, if haphazard, notes on this particular theme, mixing past, present, and twenty-minutes-from-now future:
• Landscapes full of abandoned buildings from variety of eras. Half-built bedroom communities, unfinished suburbs down the road from generational family homes.
• Relentless salvaging of old machinery to feed or mix with newer. Creative rigging of second-hand or "outdated" technology into rough but extremely reliable forms. Abandoned industrial equipment as resource. Constant repair/re-use.
• Blackwater. The world's most infamous private mercenary army, founded and originally based in Moyock, NC. Original training grounds on 3,000 acres of the Dismal Swamp.
• Farms as ground zero for backyard/grey market gene splicing. After all, it's not that different from what farmers have done for centuries: adapt technology and natural processes to alter forms of life. Use to find workarounds on killer seeds, etc. (farmers are also adept at slipping around central authority that gets in their way).
• Pervasive personal weaponry and a higher-than-average number of ex-soldiers from a variety of wars.
• Backroads dotted with towns largely ignored by larger governments. Weak or non-existent official social safety networks.
• Same lack of bigger institutions or gov, along with lack of attention from larger cities/culture providing appealing haven for people that want to be ignored — plenty of opportunity where no one's looking. Widespread surveillance is nigh-impossible in rural areas.
• Historical role of Northeastern NC (and many similar rural areas) as refuge for fleeing slaves, indentured servants, remaining natives during country's early history. Pockets of deep anti-Confederate/government sentiment during Civil War.
• Juxtaposition of international ports and nearby complete wilderness. Revival of old smuggling routes along canals, inlets, and sounds. A lot of homes in this area have a small dock by a waterway. Evolution of decentralized black market distribution network for areas increasingly left out of "the future."
• Infrastructure neglect and the brunt end of climate change.
• Interesting things emerging from the area's "everyone" is ignoring or dismissing.
• Last, but not least, 'ol William Gibson's Twitter handle is, coincidentally, GreatDismal. The Dixie Flatline lives. ;-)
Feel free to add your own contributions or thoughts on this theme in the comments.