METAtropolis by Jay Lake, Tobias Buckell, Elizabeth Bear, John Scalzi, & Karl Schroeder
In the Forests of the Night by Jay Lake
This story tells of the intertwining paths of a mysterious colossal of a man, Tygre, and the forest city of Cascadiopolis. They both fall, and we are told this early on, but the story is about how that happens, and so much more.
The story is a report (but doesn’t read like one) written by the members of the Cascadiopolis movement as an explanation for what happened, and intermittently includes quotes from various other reports that describe the state of the world at this future point.
“Climate change and resource pinches have caused semi-societal collapse. America had become “a zombie empire shambling onward through the sheer weight of its extents, but devoid of initiative or credibility… Hope was not dead, but it lived in strange, isolated colonies on the warm corpse of the United States.””
So Cascadiopolis is a success story. It’s a city based on the principles of anarchy and sustainability. Whatever works, low or high tech. And it answers the question as to how an anarchist government would run. A difficult task, seeing as anarchy is defined as being not in recognition of government.
“Even here in the heart of fog-bound anarchy, there are processes, rules, requirements to be followed. Freedom must be protected by a wall of suspicion.”
And later under the heading “How it Works: The Newcomers Guide to Cascadiopolis:
Cascadiopolis is a self-organizing anarchist collective which aspires to the self-actualization of all citizens in accordance with green principles.”
Though a leaderless movement, a Citizen’s Executive committee (and other subcommittees created when need arises) “sits in proxy for the will of the whole” and a vote can be called at any time with 10% agreement from the city.
“This practice is a compromise between our anarchist principles and the unfortunate realities of existing in a world of governments, corporations and capital-intensive infrastructure. Every citizen’s core aspirations should include a dedication to the day when the Citizen’s Executive will wither away and we are all self-actualized without interference from each other or the city as a whole.”
So Cascadiopolis is a city of ideals. Unfortunately, sometimes those very ideals create room for downfall.
An infiltrator thinks “They will not do face checks, these people – against what they stand for…”
Sometimes your ideals are all you have, and as long as you survive you can pick them up and go somewhere else, as is the case with this very cool and romantic sounding city among the trees that I will only visit in my dreams.