Near-future geopolitical flash fiction: The Free Freeways

Paul Raven @ 15-09-2009

tall shadows on Route 66Moving on neatly from Tom’s post about solar freeways, here’s another road-related story… only this one really is a story. It’s a little speculative near-future slice of geopolitical flash fiction at a blog called Quiet Babylon, and it’s about the US highways system seceding from the rest of the country:

The seeds of the secession were sewn in, of all places, Afghanistan. Amongst the unconquerable mountains was waged an eternal game of cat and mouse. Pitting patrols against insurgents and drones against IEDs, the military demonstrated that even if you couldn’t control the territory, you could keep the roads clear. Much as with flack-jackets and APCs, it was a matter of time before drone hardware trickled down into law enforcement and private security.

In the past, borders had been fixed to natural geographic or political points. If they weren’t cut along a mountain range or a coastline, they were drawn along the arbitrary geometric divisions of longitude and latitude. These conveniences for cartographers and generals were 20th century relics.

Automated smart-defences changed the rules. Borders of arbitrary complexity became possible, as demonstrated by the almost fractal Jerusalem Solution. The new question became whether a territory was worth defending. For the Freeway States, the calculation shifted to tolls, traffic levels, and ROI per mile.

It’s a fun short read; go check it out, and then browse around the rest of the site, which seems to be full of interesting stuff. When you’re done, thank Justin Pickard for the Twitter tip-off. 🙂 [image by Caveman 92223]

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