terms used in the story
Terms are listed in alphabetical order.
AC: See “Timeline.”
Arcadian: Refers to both the nationality and ethnicity of citizens of New Arcadia, as well as to their written and spoken language.
BC: See “Timeline.”
Bond family: An Arcadian custom, bond families consist of two clans that are as the name suggests bonded to one another. Generally, one clan is elite and/or wealthy while the other tends to be lower class. The lower clan swears loyalty to the elite clan, vowing to serve them in various ways, while the elite clan then accepts the responsibility of supporting the lower clan in all ways. Each member of the lower clan makes their vow independently when he or she reaches adulthood, granting each member the individual right to leave the bond family structure, while the members of the elite clan are expected to fulfill their part of the bargain regardless of their own wishes. To Solacians, this custom amounts to a type of slavery, but generally the bond is more advantageous to the lower clan than it is to the elite clan.
The Cataclysm: A global disaster that changed the face of the earth and humans way of life as we know it. The Cataclysm involved a combination of natural disaster with plague and economic collapse, and reduced the earth’s population and livable surface area exponentially, leading to the construction of the nine cities.
CommNet: Similar to today’s Internet, the CommNet connects all of Solace to a central governmental database, allowing the government to collect information on individuals and businesses. The CommNet is also a method of communication between individuals and businesses, as well as an encyclopedic source of information. The uses of the CommNet are quite varied, from performing necessary tasks such as buying groceries and other items to doing homework at all levels of schooling. In theory, anything a person wants to know can be found on the CommNet.
The Core: The central portion of Solace, where governmental offices and facilities, the most prestigious schools and businesses and a the homes of a few very wealthy citizens are located.
Creds: See “Credits.”
Cred card: There are two ways of carrying credits around, and both are referred to as cred cards. The first method is similar to today’s check cards, which allow a person to draw credits directly out of their own account; the second is a form of pre-paid cards of different amounts, which will hold a specific number of credits and can be refilled from one’s account. The latter is more common for day to day use, since, if it were stolen, the thief would not have access to the card holder’s entire account balance. The former type of card is used for large purchases, and is often used over the phone or the CommNet.
Credits: Solace’s monetary system. A credit is not divisible by any smaller denomination of currency (unlike the current day dollar or pound and similar to the yen), and is not an actual, physical form of currency. All currency is electronic in Solace, and thus all payments of any sort, including paychecks and bills, are directly deposited or withdrawn from a person’s cred account. See “Cred card” for more information.
The Crossing: A common term referring to any journey that involved crossing the Divide. The eastern point of the Crossing is either New Felicity or Holding, and the western point is always Solace. Usually, the crossing is accomplished by transporting people and goods in sealed containers equipped with O2-cyclers (which pull the carbon out of CO2, leaving breathable gas) along a track that dips down into the Divide.
Datapad: Handheld computers common among Solaces upper and upper-middle class.
Dialect Reform Act: The majority of the nine cities have passed acts that have led to the simplification of their official language. This has happened mainly in cities where the population consists of groups speaking several different but often related languages; the Dialect Reform Act is usually an instrument of compromise in which a new language is created. While DRAs can be very helpful in the long run in assisting the harmonious living of various ethnic and cultural groups in a given city, it is costly to implement initially due to the necessity of having to teach all citizens a new language and institute programs in schools to teach younger generations. The most notable exceptions to the passage of a DRA have been Solace, where such a reform was deemed unnecessary, and Xifeng, where the city government simply didn’t want to spend the time and money involved in enacting such a law.
The Divide: The Divide is what is left of what used to be the Atlantic ocean. After the Cataclysm, the water level fell dramatically, leaving a vast basin in which heavy noxious and toxic gasses began to settle. Crossing the Divide from one continent to another is a dangerous and expensive process.
False window: In the super-structures that make up most of Solace’s residential and business sectors, many apartments and offices do not share walls with the exterior of the building, and so are not able to have windows. Because of this, most interior apartments and office spaces are provided with electronic windows inset into the wall (or at least, an indentation wired for one), programmed with a number of views, which the user may choose. The windows can be turned on or off—the display usually shows a curtain or some sort of blind when the window is “off”, and many users choose to hang actual drapes or blinds over the window. All such windows have one feature that cannot be altered by the user, and this is the day-night transition in the brightness provided by the window.
The Fringe: The name used to refer to the geographical edges of Solace. If the city is pictured as a wheel, with the Core as its hub, the Fringe would be located at the outermost parts of the spokes. There are few people living in the actual Fringe and most buildings there are in disrepair.
Identification card: More popularly called an “ident card,” this card, when slid through a specific machine, carries all of the information on the person that the city has--it is a portable copy of the carrier’s city record. Ident cards must be updated every two years, or whenever necessary information such as address, place of employment, marital status, etc. change. Though a company or institution may issue their own, separate identification cards, many simply add information to a person’s existing city ident card (for example, programming the card to unlock various doors within a specific building; newer housing facilities often add data to city ident cards in order for them to take the place of house keys).
Intercity post: More or less self-explanatory. Intercity post is the shipping of goods between cities. This is not done with regular correspondence, which is transmitted via old satellites. Two examples of this so far in the context of the story have been the crab Madam Cho sent to Jin in book 1, and the books Hiroki has requested from Triumph in book 2. This method of shipping is time consuming, and costly when the goods being shipped are perishable, but it is necessary due to the limited resources available to each city and the subsequent necessity of importing and exporting goods.
Kalyphtian: A Solacian holiday held on the traditional date reserved for Halloween in pre-Cataclysm times. The old world traditions of wearing costumes on this date and giving out food (particularly sweet food) still exist, but that is as far as the similarities to the old world holiday extend. Originally meant to commemorate the fortitude and ingenuity of mankind, Kalyphtian has become more of a Mardi Gras or Saturnalia sort of holiday: that is, a free-for-all celebration that involves as much sensual enjoyment as a person can cram into one day. Despite this hedonistic aspect of the holiday, it’s also an opportunity for people to be carefree about good things as well, and is traditionally the day of year when the biggest donations to charitable organizations and to individuals are made. Pronounced “kah-lip-tyan” from the Greek word kalyptein, meaning “to conceal; to cover,” the name refers satirically to the habit of human beings to conceal their fatalism regarding their own future with celebration in and of the present.
L-Tram: See “Tram.”
Military police: None of the nine cities can legally have a standing military, based on the agreements ratified in the Felicity Protocol in the year 76 AC. Solace’s solution was to form a “military police”, much reminiscent of modern day armed forces, but having the duties of policing Solace when the Solace Police Department. Law enforcement in Solace is a complicated system that involves three separate but overlapping branches: the SPD, the military police and the Department of Internal Affairs. The SPD is involved mainly in normal criminal cases and crime solving, while the Department of Internal Affairs is a governmental agency that is a cross between the current day FBI and CIA of the United States. This leaves the military police with a job similar to the US Coast Guard; they take care of large scale problems, as well as acting en force in cases that would call for a SWAT team-esque approach, and as crowd control during rallies and riots.
Necromancy: An ancient school of thought that has taken the idiom “mind over matter” to the next level. Practiced by only three people in Solace, necromancy revolves around the core concept that convincing oneself that something is a certain way makes it that way in reality, or impressing one’s will upon one’s surroundings to alter them.
New Arcadia: One of the nine cities, located in what is currently known as the Nile valley. Its citizens are referred to as Arcadians, and their language, Arcadian, can best be described as a mixture of Arabic and Slavic. The population’s major religious traditions center around ancestor worship. Architecturally, the city is very different from Solace: it takes up about as much land space, but is not nearly as tall (its tallest building is a mere twenty-five stories high). Most buildings are built from mud bricks, and structures are somewhat ramshackle, often with multiple families squeezed into single rooms. The crime and unemployment rates are high, and there is some sectarian violence present.
News feed: See “News media.”
News media: Solace has a number of ways of relaying news media to the public, in varying forms of brevity; all forms are referred to simply as “the news” without generally needing to be specific as to which. The first method is regular live broadcast, similar to what is found on television in contemporary times, which can be viewed on terminal and TV screens (though TVs in Solace aren’t really like contemporary TVs), and are often broadcasted on large screens on the sides of buildings in major pedestrian zones and in major tram stations. The second type of news media is called a “news screen.” This is a flexible, thin rectangular screen, roughly 10”x11”, and can be bought in most convenience stores. The screen operates in the way a contemporary newspaper website might, with headlines linked to articles, navigable through the use of a small stylus that comes with the screen; once purchased, the screen will update the news at regular intervals throughout the day, so the only reason to buy another one would be to replace an old one. The third form of news is referred to as “feeds”. Feeds can show up in a variety of ways, but usually take the form of a scrolling list of headlines along the top of a terminal or TV screen.
News screen: See “News media.”
The nine cities: The nine cities include the Big Three: Solace, Greentree, Triumph; and the six lesser cities: New Arcadia, New Felicity, Holding, Xifeng, Olympia, and Riverside.
No Town: A specific portion of the Fringe, located at the outermost edge of the city’s North Quarter. No Town is characterized by a benign sort of lawlessness similar to political anarchy, in which its citizens to as they wish, but generally not to the detriment of others.
Old world: A phrase used to describe both the objects, traditions, institutions, etc. that existed prior to the Cataclysm, as well as the pre-cataclysmic world in general.
Protectors of Antiquity: A group dedicated to researching, documenting and explaining the truth behind certain old folktales. The PA is made up of five members, with a network of contacts specializing in various fields related to the spiritual and paranormal, and was founded by a pair of Arcadian immigrants.
Rim: While the Fringe is the outermost area of the city, the rim is actually the boundary between the city and the outlying wastelands. Though there is no real boundary marker, the rim can be identified mainly by the massive hills of discarded items and refuse from the city itself; everything that is no longer deemed re-useable or recyclable by the city is dumped at the rim.
Reclamation: The process by which the city forcibly modifies criminal behaviors in certain convicted felons in order to rehabilitate them and make them useful members of society. It is rarely used, very controversial, and both traumatic and painful for the subject, whose personality and memories are often completely rewritten.
Skyway: This term refers to an elevated walkway, sometimes just a bridge but other times wide plaza-like courtyards, that hang between buildings and make up part of Solace’s layers architectural style.
Slavic: A notable example of the Dialect Reform Act as it was enacted in Triumph, which is located in what is currently western Russia--the city’s population is comprised of survivors of the Cataclysm from all over Eastern Europe and the eastern Mediterranean coast. In approximately 200 AC, the city instituted its DRA, incorporating aspects of several Eastern European languages into a new language following the general grammar structure of most Slavic languages.
Solace: One of the nine cities extent in the post-Cataclysmic world. Solace is one of the Big Three (the other two are Triumph and Greentree), and boasts the best infrastructure and second highest average standard of living per capita of any of the nine cities. Despite the cost and risk of inter-city travel, Solace also has the most diverse population of any of the nine cities, which has led to it having one of the most complicated political systems.
Standard: The term used to refer to the “common” language. Standard is English as we know it today, though it uses a slightly modified writing system that has discarded and added a number of symbols. Though it is the official language of Solace, where it is spoken by everyone and required for day-to-day transactions, it is used mainly as the language of inter-city relations and trade, most people in all nine cities speak it to some degree of fluency. However, each of the eight remaining cities has its own official, non-Standard language that its citizens speak in day-to-day life (though some of them have adopted the Standard alphabet in place of their original writing systems).
The Surge: A legendary figure, named after a military device called a “surge coat”, and able to not only use electricity as an offensive weapon, but to reportedly turn into electricity himself and travel through the cities wires. The Surge is a vigilante, villainized by the government, considered an anomaly by most, and upheld as a roguish anti-hero by those citizens of lower economic status. He is estimated to be a male in his early thirties to late forties, though there are records of surge-like figures and activity dating back as early as the establishment of electricity in the city in the year 2 AC, leading some to believe that the Surge is immortal and most to believe that there have either been many copycats over time, or that the role is handed down.
Surge coat: A coat devised in the early days of the military police (the first was created circa 82 AC) to be used for reconnaissance and data collection. The coat was originally designed to absorb attacks using electricity, and safely release it over time as static. Only seven prototypes were produced before one went missing and it was realized that with a few slight alterations, the coat could use the concentrated electricity it absorbed offensively. Following this, development ceased and the few prototypes that had been produced were impounded. Of the original seven, only five are accounted for.
Terminal: The commonly used word for “computer” in Solace.
Timeline: Murphy’s Law is set five to six hundred years in the future. When referring to centuries, years, etc., the terms “BC” and “AC” will be used. These stand for “Before Cataclysm” and “After Cataclysm” respectively. The Cataclysm occurred not long after 2200 AD/CE (i.e. at the beginning of the twenty-third century); the year the Cataclysm occurred is considered the zero year of the new reckoning of time. Millennia, centuries and years prior to the zero year are counted the way we currently count millennia, centuries, and years BC/BCE. So the twenty-first century as we know it would be the second century BC.
Tram: The cars operating on an extensive rail system that is the most commonly used method of transportation in Solace. There are three kinds of trams: U-trams, L-trams and hanging trams (the latter are more commonly referred to simply as trams). The U in “U-tram” stands for “upward tram,” (which is a slight misnomer, as they move both up and down), which move only on vertical tracks, like giant elevators, between the levels of Solace. An L-tram, or express tram, is a tram designed to travel between two specific points along a heavily used route with fewer stops along the way. The L refers to the fact that these are the only trams outfitted to switch tracks, going from U-trams to hanging trams, and vice versa, in order to get from point A to point B without the riders having to make a transfer from one track to another. The most common type of tram, the hanging tram, is similar to modern day train and subway systems, except that, due to Solace’s multi-leveled design, these trams “hang” from the tracks along which they travel, hence their name. They often do change elevation, usually getting higher as one nears commercial and governmental areas, but only over long distances, making them much less convenient than U-trams when it comes to inter-level travel.
Triumph: The largest of the nine cities, situated in current day western Russian and home to survivors of the Cataclysm from most of Eastern Europe, the eastern shore of the Mediterranean and some of Scandinavia. The official language is Slavic, though many citizens speak a second and sometimes third language as well (including Standard). Triumph is on of the cities able to engage in agriculture, and has small “work settlements” in the countryside to the north of the city. Workers spend from two months to a year, depending on their situation, in these settlements and then are rotated into the city for a leave period of some weeks before being rotated back out to a work settlement. It also has mining settlements to the southwest. The city itself looks much like Solace, but in general is cleaner and has a lower crime rate.
U-Tram: See “Tram.”
Vid-screen: Short for “video screen,” this term applies to any screen not specifically used as a window or part of a terminal (including handheld devices). This includes TV screens, news screens, etc.
The Wires: Term used to refer to all unseen electrical and communications lines running throughout the city. The term was popularized around the same time that the urban legends concerning the Surge were.
Xifeng: Located on what is today known as the Tibetan Plateau, its citizenry is composed of a mixture of East and Central Asian peoples, mainly Tibetan, Mongolian, and ethnic Chinese. The city’s official language is “Chinese”, and is not specific as to which, if any, of China’s current dialects this refers to. Xifeng is one of the few cities that is not surrounded by wasteland, and is also one of the few that is able to produce food stuffs that are not made primarily in labs, but are organic. Xifeng’s architecture and layout are similar to current day cities, and the bicycle is a popular method of transportation, along with an under- and aboveground train system.