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Blister-Homes

By Ian Gibson

Ian Gibson's art from prog 500

Perpetually chirpy news anchor Swifty Frisko describes the Hoop as a "Land of Leisure, where the wageless pass their time in happy serenity!". In reality it is a circular 50th-century housing estate floating off the coast of Manhattan, in the Allied Municipalities of America. It is inhabited by unemployed people, euphemistically known as 'increased leisure citizens', who live in Blister-Homes (a.k.a. 'shabbitats') protruding from the Lilo-Pads that in turn protrude from the Hoop.

People who lose their jobs are forcibly relocated to the Hoop, where they subsist on welfare payments known as MAM (Municipal Aid and Maintenance) cards, so that the rich don't have to live cheek by jowl with them. Described to the economically advantaged as a "poverty reduction programme," the Hoop is in fact a handy way of containing all the indigent in one place. Twice a day the Hoop seals itself off and separates its sections so that the waves don't destroy the entire structure.

The population comprises humans (70% of them female) and sentient aliens from Alpha Centauri and Proxima Centauri. (Proximans have two legs, a tail and no arms, and they add extra words onto their name when they can afford them.) It is policed by volunteers and convicted criminals known as 'Rumblejacks', many of whom have been leucotomised1. Wealthier citizens are protected by vicious sentient robot dogs, which "come in five beefy persona-types," all of them lethal. This protection is necessary: the Hoop is plagued by gangs and by the musical cult known as the 'Different Drummers'. Residents out shopping for groceries tend to take weapons with them, as riots break out with depressing frequency. When safe at home they enjoy watching or performing music, or watching three-dimensional recorded dramas. Notable Hoop-dwellers included Halo Jones (pictured), Rodice, Brinna and Ludy, who lived together.

Three years after Halo left, the Manhattan Residents' Protection Army stormed the Hoop in a fit of pique and killed numerous citizens, an event that became known as the 'Red Wednesday Massacre' of 4952 AD. Over a thousand years later Manhattan had become Serenopolis in the country of Concordia, and the Hoop was no more.



1According to the Chambers Dictionary (10th edition), a leucotomy is "a surgical scission of the white association fibres between the frontal lobes of the brain and the thalamus to relieve cases of severe schizophrenia and manic-depressive psychosis."

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