Hi! P. J. Hoover here, back for more world building in the future, so let’s start with catastrophe. In Solstice, there is no major cataclysm. Yellowstone doesn’t erupt or anything like that. It is just hot. So hot that the temperature rarely dips below one hundred. So hot, winter is not coming. So hot, they have a special name for it: the Global Heating Crisis (but we can call it GHC for short). It’s like Global Warming except amped up a bunch.
Solstice is set here in my town of Austin. I love this town, and Solstice was in part inspired by the over-the-top hot summers we have. A couple years ago we had one where it didn’t dip below one hundred for sixty days or something crazy like that. And forget about rain. Yeah, that’s much like the world of Solstice, except in Solstice it’s all summer all the time.
They even code the temperatures by color.
The GHC has been pretty rough on the world of Solstice. See, when the temperature gets hot, lots of living things tend to die. And when living things tend to die . . . well, food runs short. And when food runs short, people tend to fight about food. And fresh water has all but dried up. Sure, governments try to make changes for the better. But for the better is not always completely inclusive. Some people will still suffer. If there is a true utopia out there, I’d love to see it.
So first, when food is short, what does that mean? Well, it means that basics like fruits and vegetables are in short supply. Animals die which means meat is also limited. So our barbeque that we want so bad? Well, the price to eat it is pretty steep. Faux meat is all the rage. The government has to step in and try to ration food. It’s not a pretty scene because there are going to be people who don’t have enough food or water. It’s unfortunate, but it’s reality.
In addition to the food and water shortages, dealing with the heat itself is a whole other topic. Like, what can the government do to help people cope? In Solstice, there is a special gel that gets sprayed from misters. It totally helps with heat, but the unfortunate part is that one out of ten people is allergic too it. Because remember, everything cannot be perfect. There is no perfect solution.
In Solstice, peripherally, every country around the world is trying advanced techniques to deal with the heat. And the worst threat is the heat bubbles. They can materialize out of nowhere and descend upon the cities, killing thousands. Austin has come up with a great idea. It’s built a series of eight domes over the city which are retractable. They can be engaged when the heat gets too bad. The only problem? Not everyone lives under a dome. Nothing is perfect.
Who wouldn’t want to live under a dome?
On a final note of our future world building, it’s important to think about the exceptions. For example, most people are not going to drive. They’re going to take public transportation. But there are always going to be those exceptions who manage to circumvent the system. Ditto no open flames. Open flames are huge fire hazards in a dry climate. But there are going to be some places that get exceptions to this. Like the Catholic Church for example. People love to light their candles and pray for their intentions.
P. J. Hoover is the author of the dystopia/mythology YA book, SOLSTICE (Tor Teen, June 2013), the upcoming Egyptian mythology MG book, TUT (Tor Children’s, Winter 2014), and the middle-grade SFF series, THE FORGOTTEN WORLDS BOOKS (CBAY, 2008-2010). You can read more about her and her books on P. J.’s website or blog.