My debut cyberpunk novel, Into the BeanStalk, takes place in a megacity that was founded and built by wealthy entrepreneurs and investors. Dubbed “The New City of Hope”, and later referred to as Hope Megacity, it was built on a huge swath of unused land as a solution to the world’s safety, social, and economic concerns.
In coming up with the setting of BeanStalk, I envisioned a situation where progressive industrialists and innovators pooled their resources to build their own city-state, free of outside control, driven by technology, and purpose-built from the ground up to be efficient.
I was nearly finished with the manuscript when I started researching modern construction projects to nail down some of the specific details in my fiction. In short order, that research led me to something called the NEOM Project — a massive construction initiative in Saudi Arabia that has already begun building several immense cities into barren stretches of desert near the Red Sea.
NEOM is an initiative of crown prince Mohammed bin Salman – Saudi Arabia’s de facto ruler – and involves development of a large region that will contain numerous cities and resorts.
The project is being largely bankrolled by the Public Investment Fund, which invests on behalf of the government of Saudi Arabia. The Saudi development company established to create Neom claims the fund is contributing $500 billion to making the project a reality.
Yeah, they’re building megacities — and journalists are actually calling them that.
Imagine my surprise when I found out people the real world were already doing exactly what I wrote about in my fictional one.
What initially caught my attention was the city called THE LINE which is intended to house 9 million residents. It’s described as “two parallel, 200-metre-wide skyscrapers, each 170 kilometres long and 500 metres high.” Essentially, it will look like a straight, mirrored wall that stretches from the shoreline to the mountains.
I look at this and immediately see the setting for a dystopian parkour video game in the vein of Mirror’s Edge or Catalyst. I mean, it’s basically a city built like a side-scroller, so someone is going to leverage this. They have to.
While the renderings are pretty interesting, what I found more fascinating is that they’re already building it.
And they’re already advertising it.
Check this out and tell me it doesn’t give you serious dystopian vibes: