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2025 and our environment

The story for 'Drowning' was mainly inspired by a non fiction book called "25 things you need to know about the future". Initially, it starts out as a depressing book, outlining the environmental challenges facing the human race over the next few decades. Over population, food scarcity (or inequality, certainly), the fragile supply of water, climate change, and sea rises leading to mass migration, to name but a few. Just as you feel like shooting yourself with despair, the book describes a wide range of technological fixes - from nano technology and 3D printing, to advances of medical science.

I was reading the book on holiday in a hot country, where I overheard a comment that would become synonymous with the UMAHn mentatlity; "Why should I feel guilty about all the water I'm using? I've paid for it."

The idea that people feel they can buy their way out of everything was an interesting concept for my starting point, and the constant battle between human endeavour against Mother Nature would become a central theme of Drowning.

Writing about a fictional place in the future was enjoyable. As part of the research into what life on Socius could have been like, I visited Hockerton Housing Project in Nottinghamshire, which is a small self sufficient community. It's a lot smaller than Socius, with only 5 families living in the development. It was built in 2002 as a project initiated by 2 architect brothers with an interest in eco-living.

Hockerton Housing Project - picture of allotment beds
Hockerton Housing Project

The development has no mains water, no gas nor electicity from the grid, and each family makes a commitment to work a significant number of hours each week for the good of the community. Growing veg, tending to the animals (sheep, pigs and chickens), maintaining the grounds and the equipment, and giving talks and tours keep the residents busy.

The houses have been built into a man-made hill, using materials to keep heat in. The south facing frontages are glass conservatories to draw heat in. The roofs are covered in solar panels, and two wind turbines churn away in the wind, keeping enough power serving the homes in the low light of winter. Amazingly the homes retain the warmth year round, with a steady internal temperature of around 20 degrees.

For water, the rainfall is channeled into deep ponds at the top of the development. The water then gets filtered through sand and into the properties. Waste water goes out through filters, and into the community lake, via a system of reed beds that further filter and cleanse the water.

Solar panels at the Hockerton Housing Project
Solar panels at the Hockerton Housing Project
Photo of the lake at the Hockerton Housing Project
The ponds at Hockerton Housing Project. No mains water here!

The 5 families appear to live very harmoniously but when the size of the development is taken as a whole, a large amount of space is allocated per person. Could Socius really exist in this manner, with a million people sprinkled over an island?

Well, that's the beauty of fiction - anything can exist - but we also see in Drowning, it's not always as rosy and harmonious as Poppy would like to believe.

Drowning is available now - see my books page for details and to order.

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