The world of Thalassa

This page will tell you more about the setting of the Thalassa books.

The Thalassa books are set in the future, a thousand years or so after the end of the Old Earth. Nobody is sure when the Old Earth died and Thalassa was born (least of all me), but a tentative date would be 2072, so the events recounted take place some time after 3072 in our reckoning.

The Old Earth dies in an environmental catastrophe called the Tectocalypse. Wait a minute, I hear you cry – the Tec-what-alypse? Tec-toc-a-lypse, from ‘tectonic apocalypse’. I know. I hate the word too. Honestly. I coined it, but I still don’t like it. But when I write I follow the mantra write what is right, not what you like, so I considered what the survivors might call such an end to the world (if they were tabloid newspaper editors) and voila – Tectocalypse.

The effects on land area of a global sea level increase of 400 m (produced using the program Niveau de la mer by Sebastien Merkel, 2002). Greenland and Antarctica should not be so high without their ice-caps, isostatic rebound notwithstanding, and the Tectocalypse adds new land in places. More detailed maps of Tethys can be found here.

The (pseudo)science behind the Tectocalypse will be covered more in the pseudoscience pages. For now, I’ll stick with the in-story facts. Melting ice and rising sea-levels. Massive volcanic eruptions on a global scale. New continents rising from the depths of the oceans. Displaced seas flooding all land below 400 m (1200 feet). Most people live in low-lying cities along the coasts, so most people die in catastrophic tsunamis. The ones who survive and who dont succumb to disease, famine, conflict, etc. get wiped out when all kinds of nasties are released from biological weapons facilities in the western United States by people looking for food. Cue the rise of the Great Plague Deserts. Global dust-storms carry the toxins around the world. There’s a lot in this paragraph, so probably time for a summary: it’s not the best place for a holiday.

Or at least, the surface isn’t. But life has survived previous cataclysms and mass extinction events in the sea, and it will probably wait out the next one under the waves as well. Some people survive. Not (just) naval submariners, but ordinary everyday civilians.

Because even before the Tec-what-alypse, by 2072 many low-lying areas, including the US state of Florida, have seen their land area diminished by rising seas (melting ice, the thermal expansion of sea-water, etc.). Enter the North American Oceanic Habitat project, NAOH for short, NOAH in everyday-speak. By 2072, experimental settlements have already been built underwater on both the western and eastern ‘coasts’ of flooded Florida. Some of these settlements survive.

One day, perhaps, I will tell the story of their survival, of how the first Tethyans decided (and in many cases were forced) to turn their backs on life above the waves and to settle Thalassa. Eventually, after many trials and hardships, after failed experiments, both social and technical, after mutinies and revolutions, Tethyans found their place in the new world: under the waves. They built Colonies, pressurised cities of salvaged steel, and while some of them settled to reinvent civilisation, others continued to explore: the Pioneers.

A very sketchy sketch of MacGillycuddy’s Reef with the High Hub at the centre.

And that is where Moanna Morgan comes in. The daughter of Pioneers, living in the soon-to-be-Federated Colony of MacGillycuddy’s Reef, north of the Frontier and on the edge of aqua incognita. And if you want to know more, you’ll just have to read the book…

Header image: Not Tethys, but the Hydrolab in the Bahamas, a precursor to the underwater settlements that saved humanity (By Ariel Roth (Ariel Roth – Hydrolab occupant) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons)