It’s the year 3100. Climate change, political wars, and human greed would have led to the ultimate demise of Earth if not for the rise of the TechniKs-crats. Disillusioned by centuries of political incompetence, the TechniKs-crats came to power almost 300 years ago in a final bid to save the human species from themselves. Brandishing their rhetoric of TechniK-capitalism – a political order that heralds technology as the savior of human ills – they established the New Earth.
Under the new political order, entertainment is a means of livelihood for 99.9% of the New Earth’s population. Citizens live to entertain and entertain to live. This rhetoric pervades every aspect of life; from social interactions to political structures, the TechniKs-crats track their citizens entertain-o-meter via a gut-inserted electronic pill (i.e. The Pill) implanted at birth. Citizens are required to clock 8 hours of entertainment each day. Failure to do so would activate The Pill’s shock waves, keeping citizens awake and alert all night long.
With the rise of the TechniK-crats, prisons and jails gave way to The Library. Located in every district, The Library institutionalizes citizens who deviate from the philosophies of the New Earth. Here, punishment, unlike in the distant past, is no longer solitary but public and social; prisoners are put on display for social entertainment and public shaming. Citizens’ failure to meet their daily quota of 8 hours of entertainment (and many do, as happiness, joy, and laughter are scarce under the Technik-crats) pay a small fee to visit The Library each day.
In The Library, punishment and torture are gamified. Citizens select their prisoner of choice from a database categorized by crime, age, gender, and ethnicity. Once selected, citizens are brought into a windowless white room where their prisoner of choice is housed in a glass cage. Citizens enter the minds of these prisoners via a virtual portal. Once in their minds, citizens gain access to the deepest, darkest parts of their soul, free to exploit their consciousness and memories however they wish to do so. Outside, these scenes are projected on the walls of The Library to satisfy the cheap thrills of passersby seeking to add extra minutes to their daily entertainment quota.
While citizens experience the psyche of the prisoners through a virtual world, these events have visceral ramifications on the prisoners. If citizens choose to revisit the “crimes” of these prisoners for public shaming or physical torture, these events are experienced by the prisoners in real-time. Beyond curbing physical liberty, the TechniK-crats intentionally designed a system of punishment to severely limit mental and emotional freedom. Prisoners, once institutionalized in The Library, are vaccinated with an anti-death elixir; they are held as prisoners, of the New Earth and their bodies, forever. Meanwhile, pain – physical, mental, emotional – lives on and on and on….