Technoir: Skin City Romance
Special deregulated status makes Skin City a hotspot for new and experimental technology research, particulary in the area of biotechnology. It’s the primary destination for those who want the latest in genetic patches and integrated body modifications. The main beneficiary of deregulation has been Synthesome, which leads the pack in cutting edge research and market share. Even though the business of Skin City revolves around advanced technology, most residents depend upon outdated, jury-rigged, and black market goods. Many of the technologies that are commonly used throughout the city are actually decades old. They’re kept in service due to desirable properties like low energy consumption, such as with the city-wide wired telephone network.
Due to increases in soil salinity, water pollution, and aridity due to climate change, California’s Imperial Valley became a depopulated desert wasteland many years before Skin City grew up next to the Salton Sea. Advances in water purification and energy production, in tandem with creative city management, allowed the city to grow in this hostile environment. Despite these efforts, food, energy, and potable water rationing are a fact of life for all but the wealthiest citizens. Corporate employees have priority access to rationed resources.
A coalition of corporations effectively own the city and operate its municipal functions. The corporations provide the city with centralized sources of energy, food, and potable water and the city serves as a workforce pool and test bed for experimental technologies. A relatively laissez-faire attitude by the corporate governing body has allowed enterprising individuals, such as back alley splicers and rogue tech dealers, to build a healthy black market economy. The city is also a popular destination for tourists and has become known as “The Venice of the Desert” due to its system of saltwater canals. The oldest district of the city, Del Fango, consists mainly of mudbrick structures and has also become a draw for tourists. Culturally, Skin City is a melting pot, with all the good and bad that entails. People came from all over the world during the pandemics and many of those that survived stayed.