...astropolis, cosmopolis, ecumenopolis,
megalopolis, metropolis, necropolis, technopolis...
is Earth's One City
the Last City
the Only City
covering every square meter of the planet
where humanity's hundreds of billions live and work
a collection of diverse authors writing of small moments and large dramas
each story is 1000 words in an anthology spanning 1000 years
Open Call for Submissions
PDF for Polis submission information
We are seeking stories for an anthology to be published in the Spring/Summer of 2020 by the Air and Nothingness Press.
Theme: Polis, Earth's one city, covering every square meter of the planet (think Trantor, Coruscant, Judge Dredd's Mega City One).
All stories are requested to be 1000 words exactly in length. They may be of any genre as long as they fit within the idea of one city covering the Earth, spanning 1000 years from 2300AD (when the largest cities of Earth began to expand beyond their borders and engulf all surrounding territories) to 3300AD (when the Earth was fully enclosed by one city, the seas have been drained, Earth mines nearby asteroids for raw materials, hundreds of billions of people cover the globe where they live and work).
As authors submit stories, we are building a FAQ on this page for names/places/concepts the stories should share for a cohesive whole. If you have questions about the government, how food is grown, what happened to all the oceans, please contact us. We will world-build together.
This FAQ is a work in progress and will be loosely organized as an info-dump style list. The FAQ will be updated as new stories are accepted. Nothing here is 'canon' per se but we would like for all stories to have some cohesiveness in terms of names and large scale details so all stories can be connected in that small way. We certainly want you, the authors, to explore the theme in your own voice and in your own way. Polis is an enormous city and there will be regional differences in language and culture.
Polis grew out of 12 mega-cities across Earth over a period of 400 years. The original cities were London, New York, Los Angeles, Berlin, Shanghai, Tokyo, Delhi, Sao Paulo, Mumbai, Mexico City, Beijing, Buenos Aires, and these subsumed other smaller and larger cities and regional city groups as Earth's population grew and climate change shaped how Earth's people lived and worked. These final 12 cities then became the centers of 12 districts that divided Polis, each ruled by a governor and elected council of representatives.
Districts are referred to by their number but regional pockets of people within the former loose nation state bondaries still retain memories and references to the cities of old (examples could include London, LPB [London Paris Berlin megacity], Ell (L for London), Ell7, Ellsev (London, 7th district)).
Polis covers the Earth's surface. Oceans and lakes have been drained to underground aquifers and water is a controlled commodity in many regions.
All available surface has been built on with the exception of small reserves/parks/forests owned by the extremely wealthy.
Food is grown in vast warehouse spaces and corporations have tunneled deep into the Earth's surface to create enclosed pocket environments where they maintain black box sites, theme parks, private animal and botanical sanctuaries (as SF writers have proposed we do with asteroids, hollowed out and turned into habitable environments).
Large mountain ranges and deep ocean trenches still exist within the city fabric and humans have had to modify themselves accordingly for air and gravitational differences.
Polis is divided vertically into levels counting up from 0 (former Sea Level) and descend as well - Sublevel Zero One, Zero two etc... Again regional difference do occur due as do naming schemes. In greater part Polis is a warren much like a gigantic Kowloon. The rich tend to higher up and have access to launch ports to reach near earth orbiting satellites and stations. The poor live underground amongst the sewage, production and transport infrastructure.
Humanity in Polis survives with a panoply of languages though a pidgin language has grown over time for disparate Districts to conduct business with each other. Those with means can afford translation systems for their augmented bodies.
There is no one world language or one world culture. Diversity is as it ever was, though media, entertainment and culture are broadcast to enormous audiences and avidly consumed by rich and poor alike.
Transportation has regional solutions (subways, canals, airships, bicycles, above-ground bullet trains). There are ringed super highways encircling Polis and a vast under ground subway system corkscrewing through the Earth's core to connect the different Districts through ballistic train technology.
As history progresses through the 1000 year cycle taking place in the book, humanity will mine the asteroid belt, create a ring of satellite habitation zones around Earth, and will populate the Moon, Mars and Europa.
Towards the end of the cycle humanity will begin to move out into the greater solar system and beyond, as well as dis-embody into virtual worlds, leaving all pretense of humanity behind. Polis may eventually become a place for reverence and remembrance but very few actual inhabitants may continue to live on the planet.
There are some protected cultural sites (i.e. UNESCO World Heritage) that still exist though these are more like museum exhibits within this future city. Some indigenous groups/caretakers still inhabit these areas but are ever under threat from corporations to be given over to industrialization and city inhabitation. Representatives from both sides have agreements/shady dealings/broken contracts and handshake promises in place.
The book is divided into 3 Eras - Rise, Stasis, Fall - based on the stories we have received and started accepting.
In the 23rd century, Earth saw a rapid rise in populations of twelve cities: London, New York, Los Angeles, Berlin, Shanghai, Tokyo, Delhi, Sao Paulo, Mumbai, Mexico City, Beijing, and Buenos Aires. These mega-cities subsumed all and eventually metastasized into Polis, Earth's one city. Divided into 12 districts, each ruled by a governor and elected council of representatives, Polis became a place of teeming masses, a collection of diverse, clashing cultures, and home to powerful corporations.
Oppression and opportunity co-existed as Polis grew to cover the entire Earth's surface. Oceans and lakes were drained to underground aquifers and all available surface area was built up from and tunneled down into. Large factory farms, in huge towering blocks, grew food for the populace. Warrens of housing, shops, and entertainment venues filled every streets along with secret corporation habitats and black-ops sites deep within the planet. Greenspace, forests, zoos, and what remained of the natural world, were contained on small reserves and parks owned by the extremely wealthy. Earth's few remaining cultural touchstones sat within enclosed domes as tourist attractions; decaying artifacts like so many jewels in the bright morass of the encroaching city.
There is no one-world language or one-world culture. Diversity is as it ever was - eager and vibrant - craving a voice and a share.
As Polis consumed ever more of the Earth remaining resources, those in control looked to the outer solar system to provide what was so urgently needed. The Moon and Mars had long been colonized and ships were now sent to the Asteroids, to the moons of Saturn and Jupiter, to take what Polis required and felt it deserved. Water shortages and power outages became a way of life as supply could not keep up with demand.
Nano-factories consumed resources at exponential rates to build ever higher into the sky and beyond. The super-rich fled from their earthbound fortresses to orbital habitats, personal satellite enclaves, and outward into space.
Pioneers, risk takers, and those who could escape the One City left, up and out into the greater opportunities provided by the newly formed Outer Confederation which, in turn, demanded a voice of its own and decided the greedy hunger of Polis would no longer be tolerated.
As the decades wore on, those far from Earth, turned their attention further outward, seeking new worlds and a new vision for humanity.
The Outer Confederation, freed itself finally from the drain of Polis and adapted their technologies, biologies and philosophies. Exotic sciences developed and bloomed in a thousand new ways. Meanwhile those who remained in Polis found their narratives being re-written around them:
Some retreated into a virtual existence and left their physical selves behind, choosing to maintain an illusion of the past.
Some went underground, not necessarily into safety or security.
And some struggled to make do with what remained on the surface, amid the ruins of a once shining city and center of humankind.
Polis, like many cities and nations of history, waned and fell.
Perhaps though, in time, something new would come.