Fire & Ice: Zhora – THE STORY

“Zhora” is a depiction of the future (circa 2050) as imagined from the 1980s.

In this non-internet world, Zhora asks what will the future hold, and answers it without the benefit of the past 35 years of technological progression. This is a world bereft of the social, political and cultural changes that resulted from the connectivity and information/idea/ideological proliferation of the internet. No Occupy Wall Street, no Arab Spring, no news on demand and no democratization of information or self-expression.


Zhora is a parallel future history that developed in the absence of the World Wide Web; without the Occupy Wall Street and 1% movement; without the post-Cold War demise of the Soviet Union and without the rise of China to economic world superpower.

Without an internet to share ideologies and organize themselves into protest, the ever increasing lower class lives at the behest of the upper class – the giants of business and industry, who fear losing their positions if the masses were able to rise in protest.

The influence of the uber-wealthy permeates politics and media, disenfranchising the poor (now a true 95% of the population) to a greater and greater degree.

Sex and Drugs:

Most of the population live on state-provided “Estates” within huge metropolises. Discontent is the norm, and to address this problem the government provides increasing elaborate “bread and circus”, with the welfare state providing vice-driven entertainment.

State-funded android and robotic prostitution, along with legalized but unregulated human prostitution, are tools of the state used to keep the population satiated. The state actively distributes opiates, marijuana and other depressants that create a chemical culture which encourages obedience through addiction.

Home-made narcotics are still popular, and are mainly amphetamine or hallucinogenic-based. In their desire to for non-robotic sexual and emotional contact, society has become increasingly gender fluid in their sexual preferences.

Socio-Economic Profiles:

Production and agriculture are largely mechanized, leaving the majority of people unemployed, and borne into a society where never having a job is the expected norm. This is the fate of the 95% of the Population

There is a thin middle class of highly intelligent individuals that live amongst the upper classes and are provided for largely by the state. Although they live in proximity, the upper classes generally feel superior to the middle class and effectively a new caste system develops. Marriage between the upper and middle class is however accepted, and is nearly the only way to move upward between classes.

Top 1% Wealthy Class = “The Elite” Class

Small 4% Middle Class = “The Worker” Class

Large 95% Lower Class = “The Population” Class


Religion is now a tool of government, but is much more tempered than throughout Christian-Judeo history; offering an afterlife for good behaviour on earth, but having removed anything that may result in religious fervour. Taking from the eastern philosophies, there is no monotheistic figure in the new world religion.

There are rebel groups of religious “Believers” living outside their assigned estates, but the government generally takes little notice unless they attempt to influence “The Population” in the megatropolis areas.


The conspicuous consumption of the 1980s flourishes while the divide between the rich and the poor increases. The very wealthy become increasingly ostentatious in their attempt out-do one another and separate themselves from the thin middle class. Psychologists speculate that the Elite use materialism to bury the underlying guilt felt by this class for the condition of the poor.

This ostentatious display of wealth enrages the lower class, so the trappings of extreme wealth go behind closed doors, creating fabulous alcoves in a world that is otherwise destitute.

This is reflected in the dress style of the wealthy, who “peacock themselves” behind the confines of their Kasbahs in their fabulous hand-made finery while the masses wear clothing that is purely functional, made robotically by machine, and provided by the state.

The Elite have the luxury of travel, largely within their own mega-cities, and places like The Snake Pit bar become their meeting places when they are looking for entertainment that is too outrageous to host in their luxury, walled, inner-city mansions.


Communication technology capabilities are reminiscent of the mobile phones of the 80s. No internet exists, but there is the proliferation of non-connected technologies that assist all people in every day life. This ranges from counsels that control the home, to holographic in-home entertainment. Android sex-slaves are common companions for The Population, as are AI devices they use as smart companions.


There is a huge malaise in the lower class that has nearly eradicated human ambition.  Even if one were to excel, there are no jobs to be had, there is virtually no upward class mobility and each day mirrors, nearly identically, the last.

The Population take pleasure in doing recreational drugs together. There is prolific and promiscuous sexual activity, and the state sponsored population control has developed ever increasingly effective birth control devices, medications and surgeries that decrease the size of the population generation by generation.

Access to life-saving surgery and medicine is tremendously expensive and reserved for the upper class, who now live to an average healthy age of 120, while the lower class rarely makes it past 50. However, with increased knowledge of nutrition, and increased measures of environmental protection, the lower classes are generally physically fit until their death from common ailments that could be treated if they had the means.

Social groups are highly localized as transportation is at limited disposal for the lower classes. In-breading is a problem in populations. The government fails to address this issue.

Despite social groups being local, social values are global as the entire body of information fed to the populous is via state-run push media; as the lack of internet never allowed people to choose what information to “pull” and consume. This propaganda writes the new world history.

The Population live in giant skyscraper-centric estates (which are very well appointed when new, but poorly maintained) and that is generally the limit of their social circle. The estates are insular and develop a gang-like or tribal attitude against other estates, but there are alliances and informal treaties that emerge. Most estates have a leader that acts as the local judge and justice. With drugs being state supplied and cheap prostitution being often in the form of mechanical females (androids), the estates often trade illicitly in human trafficking and forced human prostitution, in illegal foods (foods with high saturated fats, sugars and other such illicit ingredients) and in stolen or counterfeit luxury goods.


After the first global nuclear war, the world governments decided to create on supreme global governing body. The United States leads the executive office, but has taken a communistic view on the management of the lower classes, which was influenced by the USSR. The USSR’s and China’s influence can be seen in the architecture of the lower classes living facilities and in the management of that population.

Global wars are a thing of the past, and the government’s military is mainly used to quell uprisings against the Elite or in fighting the violence that erupts between states. The military is particularly brutal in its handling of The Population, because it is largely AI-drone based, removing human empathy from military operations. The AI drones also assist the  government in limiting the force of its standing armies, for it fears the spectre of revolution from a military made up of members of the Population. This lesson was learned in the frequent revolutions that ensued following the nuclear wars.

The Population is desensitised to extreme violence and suffering.

The Snake Pit Bar:

The Snake Pit bar is an oasis where the Elite and Working Class mingle together. The VIP areas for the Elite are among the most fashionable in the Megatropolis. The clientele is there to do things they wouldn’t dare do in their own homes, and management is happy to oblige.

Outside the bar is the area of the Megatropolis between the estates (The “ Alleys”). The Alleys are filled with the truly undesirables, who are often estate-less either by choice or because of their being ostracised by the estate’s residents or leader. Even worse are the denizens that dwell in the alleys by their own volition, as no goodly man would ever choose a life in the alleys. Either through desperation or being born more bad than good, these are the true demons of society.

The Snake Pit Bar is run by an ex-Working Class television entertainer, highly intelligent, adeptly social and rumoured to have embezzled cash and services from his former employer. He retired shortly the rumoured embezzlement and started The Snake Pit Bar. That is where he met and married the daughter of a particularly wealthy Elite and elevated his status, and the clientele of his club in one fell swoop.