The Un-manning of Worldbuilding

I’ve been injecting Feminism into a worldbuilding discussion community. It’s a bizarre pseudo-creative space where you ask one question about the world you are building, then other members answer. Everyone votes up or down on the questions and answers, so everything is ranked by social voting. It’s the only online space I’ve ever seen that allows anyone to edit other people’s posts (it’s more like a wiki, in some ways). The question does not belong to you, but to the community. Editing is actually encouraged.

The Milgram Experiments famously proved that you can always find a man willing to harm someone he cannot see.

Its value cachet is a bank of creative knowledge. It operates on a point-currency system, and up/down votes from other members add/subtract to your points…. Asking a question earns half the points as answering (better to give…). Point tiers are rewarded with superficial badges, but also unlock admin privileges. Once you accumulate points you can spend them on reward bounties…. It’s a complex system with lots of caveats, and I briefly thought it would make a good template for a future economy based on social-participation, but last week I gamed a niche/flaw in the system and have been earning maximum allowed points daily ever since with only a few well-positioned answers.

It’s a male dominated space – with a noisy minority of the mindset that sabotaged the Hugo Awards a few years back. Their ideal is Asimov: very dry, very hard, very MALE *science* fiction. They were invaded by “magic” authors a while back and they lost the war (old debates preserved in the admin were epic LOL) so now “magic” is allowed if it’s properly tagged as such. There are daily admonishments to stop sarcastically answering with “Just use magic…!”

Instead the community doubled down on sci-fi purity – this is the interesting aspect (to me). Since they can no longer have site-wide realism they will dogpile on any sci-fi question that waivers from hard science (FYI, basically *all* tropes of pop sci-fi are pure fantasy: warp speed, teleporters, force fields – they will never exist). Fealty to realism is such a dogma they chastise anyone who does not kowtow with the proper genuflections to “hard” science – some genuflections are so common they have insert words to cover entire concepts because they are acceptable psuedo-science with a proper pedigre (see: Alcubierre drive). They even tried to make a science purity rating but of course only the hardliners stuck to it. It’s comparable to a 3D community and focuses on photorealism as the “true” form. It is a male-power dogma, like belligerent atheism.

Jane Goodall takes better notes than I do.

Anyway, there’s probably a whole Jane Goodall thing I could fill notebooks with my observations of male power dynamics (and how I am compelled to subvert them). Cut to the chase, my feminism was outed because of a series of questions about tweaking voter laws to favor “high IQ” and various other so-called meritocracies including “education”. Naturally I answered the shit out of those with my woke-self (that’s self-depricating sarcasm, people), and even posted a sample IQ Test that was used in Alabama to prevent African Americans from voting in ’64, and linked it to last month’s SCOTUS decision that declared proxies for gerrymandering look like racially-motivated voter suppression. While most answers talked about the fallacy behind IQ tests I actually found a real life incident where IQ test meritocracy was abused and I identified the vicims: African American voters.

But Heinlein wasn’t sexist…, he LOVED sex…

There was a small dogpile of downvotes and a Heinlein pushback (literally: How Dare You Question Heinlein! If that seems like a non sequitur, now you know what it’s like), but a larger number of upvotes and a long discussion in comments where people were explaining this *is* the answer.  An actual historic incident trumps all maybes and hypotheticals…. I might have “won” the question without the backlash, but instead was 3rd place by votes.

That debate launched 3 other questions, trying out variations of “IQ” with other privilege meritocracies, but by then I understood my answer and was able to answer first (one of the gamed quirks is the order your answer displays, first responders have an advantage) so I easily “won” those questions, and even snuck a bit of creative writing on top so those answers scored well…. One of my downvoters started an admin protest thread saying he didn’t want to hear about “black people” in an IQ thread, but that was downvoted and put “On Hold” as unclear, hahaha….

I told you about the “genetic ark of manly-men and nubile breeding women” that I skewered by explaining why the only survivors should be Lady Geneticists and frozen sperm, LOL! And just as my answer was winning they voted to put the question “On Hold” as unclear….

Selma Labat – “sexy Amazon”

Latest answer was about Amazon Warriors and I didn’t get the first reply but “won” the question anyway with a hyena answer. “Hyenas and testosterone” blasted to the top and is still earning me points, despite some protests in the comments that Amazons wouldn’t be “sexy” enough because they would be “androgynous muscular freaks”…. YAY! That would be TOO SEXY for you, Dudebro.

I have no idea why I do this shit… I *do* feel it’s important to invade manspace with feminism (not “girlpower” but actual Intersectional Feminism), but I’m also experienced at navigating male power dynamics (even when refusing to kowtow, I am navigating). Most of these men are not real writers, like me they are working at becoming creative writers, so I can’t even claim I am influencing influencers…. Maybe there’s a small chance I become a better writer myself, or that less aggro feminist flowers might sprout in the garden I helped to clear. While there’s a small intellectual Gen-X bonus-round for scoring highly with a controversial answer, now that I’ve figured out how to game their point system the Virgo/Aries analyze-then-destroy aspect is over – it feels like I already won.

Clearly I haven’t won anything. I’m using my skills to score points in a creative logic arena. Unfortunately I’m only proving that an exceptional person can win on her own terms, but I’m not holding any territory. I’ll have to stick around to make an impact, even then I don’t know if it’s possible to make any lasting difference.




How many people fit in an Arcology?

The politics and purpose of your arco would significantly impact the number of residents that would be packed into it.

In my mind, the default picture for an arcology is the hippie utopian 1970s Arcosanti, and I immediately imagined a clean city with apartment balconies over a lake. Any untidy industry gets tucked away inside the structure and the residential population is limited only by air/light exposure… Ahhhh.

Paolo Soleri – Dam

No, wait. That’s just an architect’s pipedream…. Those web things are the apartments. I don’t actually know what’s going on with that Swiss cheese slice, is that a walkway? In the top-down view (top right in the drawing) we see this isn’t actually a working dam so much as an crazy facade apartment building in front of a dam…. Or maybe I’m reading it wrong. Those web apartments are actually horizontal compression supports. The dam really is that thin, the structure is like a bridge on its side…

Soleri designed another arco dam he called Veladiga which he estimated would hold a modest 15,000 people.

Simcity2000 pushed arcologies into pop culture, but shortened it to the hip arco. Their populations ranged from 30,000 – 55,000 but were pollution neutral. A secret easter egg involved building over 300 Launch Arcos that colonized space. Many considered it “winning” the game.

Simcity2000 Arcos: Plymouth Arco, Forest Arco, Darco, and Launch Arco

Decide WHY the arco exists.

  • Accommodate a dense population.
  • Self-contained ecology
  • Keep labor close to work

Decide WHO built it

  • An egalitarian society that appreciates nature
  • a crowded city pressing the limits of its resources
  • a mining company, the government, or space aliens.

An actual arco is constructed for a purpose. It’s a machine with a built-in power source. Industry would need the outside wall for venting CO2 or whatever byproduct it produces. It probably has a large industrial conveyor lift to bridge cargo from the lake above to the river below. The population might be limited to only the necessary workers, managers, and their families. The people serve the machine, like an oil rig. The costs to provide for them will push the number of residents to a minimum.

Moloch from Metropolis (1927)

But arcos are eco-friendly, right? What if you take the fragile ecology scenario to opposite extremes. What if the environment can no longer sustain your population? If the goal is to gather all the people into one building there would be pressure to pack as many people as physically possible into every cubic meter of the structure. Workers live in crowded dorms. Only the elite would have private apartments, but even those would be tiny. If the purpose of the arco is to keep as many people as possible alive in one concentrated space, I think we have not seen the limits of where we can go.


An estimated 100,000 people in HK live in these conditions. 1,300 Hong Kong dollars ($167) a month for one of about a dozen wire mesh cages resembling rabbit hutches crammed into a dilapidated apartment in a gritty, working-class West Kowloon neighborhood. The cages, stacked on top of each other, measure 1.5 square meters (16 square feet).

Even in a utopian/socialist future where a residential megastructure also serves a utilitarian function, there is a negotiated balance between space devoted to industry and space devoted to community housing. Those needs might change over time leading to overcrowding or reclaiming of industrial space. Was the arco financed by luxury condos, or is this a low-income housing project in exchange for pollution credits?

Hugh Ferris – Metropolis of Tomorrow

It’s not the volume or surface area that defines the population, but the purpose of the arco, and the politics of the society who built it.  In reality humans are not like logs that can be stacked into a defined volume. Humans will adapt to overcrowding, and “personal space” is based on income and real estate values.


**Zone your arco’s industrial areas and subtract them from the volume.** The space left over is available for residents and public areas. Depending on where in the world your dam is, it will have different legal definitions of [Overcrowding][5]. If your goal is maximum number of dwellers start with existing overcrowding/zoning regulations and make it more dense. [Kowloon City][6] for example was unregulated but obv not designed as an efficient arco. [Cruise ships can be very dense][7] and still comfortable, but they are almost the opposite spectrum of a self-sustainable arcology. Also look at Chungking Mansions and Mirador Mansions budget hotels in HK for examples of very small private living quarters. After that you have [SRO hotels][8] with shared bathrooms, and then hostels and dormitories. Your arco might have any mix of these with the ability to reconfigure as housing needs fluctuate.

Without some idea of what you consider suitable space for your population there isn’t a hard answer. Social and legal pressures would decide the limits, not architects.

Cutscene Artist

After looking around the web for a community that embraced filmmaking on game engines, I decided to create one…. Starting with a blog: for covering real-time cinema, interactive storytelling, VR, and the various possibilities of non-narrative art experiences.



The invention of the cocktail “Earthquake” or Tremblement de Terre is attributed to Toulouse-Lautrec; a potent mixture containing half absinthe and half cognac (in a wine goblet, 3 parts Absinthe and 3 parts Cognac, sometimes served with ice cubes or shaken in a cocktail shaker filled with ice).

Three Heroic Types

Adventure – Fantasy – Science Fiction

Adventure Hero
coincidence, luck (good and bad), gambling, charisma, sybaritic: sex/gambling/imbibe
criss-cross, random associations, extroverted, always now
social/flirty, sexual

Fantasy Hero
purity: faith, bloodline, purpose
fate/destiny, distant past
introverted, (un)worthiness, training/discipline
pedagog, asexual/bisexual

Science Fiction Hero
evolution: society/technology, philosophy/soul, body/mind,
lifestyle, communal, faddish, nonsexual, childlike