Parties are over, it'll be at least another week before anyone even mentions any lab work so it's back to writing for me. I'm concentrating on the dismal world of Panoptica because I want to get that finished before real life nicks all my ideas.
It's called Panoptica after the Panopticon, a circular prison where the guard can see the prisoners all the time, but the prisoners can't see the guard. No guard could be looking in all directions at once so the chances of him looking at a particular prisoner at any one time are slim.
However, since the prisoners cannot see the guard, they have no way of knowing when they're being watched and when they're not, so they soon behave as if they are being watched all the time.
The world of Panoptica isn't a prison in the walls-and-bars sense, and the main character is a CCTV operator so you'd think he's one of the guards. So does he, at first.
Nobody knows who the guards are, not even those who think they are the guards. CCTV is a distraction because everyone is watched by actual people at ground level. Dodged the CCTV? Maybe the guards saw you anyway.
I've been thinking up backstory components to slip in here and there to explain how this terrible world came about. Some of these will take the form of "The War On (insert anything enjoyable here)", how the Coalition (all parties in power all the time) pretends they won those wars and how they convince the population that they did.
Some of them are easy. The War on Guns was won by coming down like a ton of bricks on anyone caught with anything even remotely gun-like, while any inter-criminal gun crime is Winston Smithed out of the news. Likewise drugs and knives. The criminals learn that as long as they keep the violence out of the public eye they can get away with pretty much anything. The public are by now so scared of guns and knives that only a total psycho would bother to use one - the sight of one is enough - and the Panoptica Coalition are more concerned with keeping the weapon out of the news than catching the criminal.
I had a 'trauma treatment' set up to deal with this, in which memories of traumatic events can be deleted from the mind. The entire event could be erased from history so effectively that even the victim would not remember the knife. It was a psychological battering, including hypnosis. I didn't think anyone would believe it could simply be done with an injection.
Obesity has been solved. Everyone must weigh themselves in the morning and their bathroom scales are connected by WiFi to the local health centre. Anyone have one of those that transmits from the floor platform to a readout on the wall? You're only one step from Panoptica's solution. The weight determines your permitted calorie intake for the day, and that's what the readout shows you. Not your weight, but the precise types and quantities of food you are to eat that day.
One of the wars 'won' by the Coalition was the War on Smoking. Real people don't smoke any more because anyone caught smoking, or suspected of it, has their embedded chip disabled. Other 'crimes' cause this too, and there are more than even Labour thought of. With no chip they become 'ghosts' and are not permitted anywhere near real people, have no bank accounts and no official homes.
How did they win this war? They banned it from everywhere and put the fines and penalties on those responsible for each area rather than on the smoker. You don't own anything at all in Panoptica, but you are responsible for many, many things.
Those who would get fined soon became unpaid enforcers and unpaid informants. Nobody knows when they are being watched so turning a blind eye to the smoker in the corner is likely to get you fined and maybe ghosted too.
Of course, they didn't really win any of these wars. Those whose weight persistently strayed outside official limits, those who smoked or who drank more than permitted, those who used too much salt or sugar, those caught practicing any religion, were simply deleted from databases and excluded. They did not exist, they never existed. They live in poverty in ghettoes and the Coalition doesn't care as long as they stay there. They are out of the economy, which is doing quite well for reasons too unpleasant to talk of here.
There are parallels with '1984' which is inevitable because I was heavily influenced by that book. This is set further ahead, where doublethink is the norm for everyone and the 'proles' of Orwell's book are not visited by the citizens because nobody knows they exist. It's the pure, clean world Orwell's 'Party' was aiming for. In Panoptica, they have done it.
Real life is getting closer, which is why I have to write faster. That tobacco template is moving ahead on many fronts now and it won't be long before restaurant owners will be fined if they allow you to use too much salt, off-licences and pubs penalised for selling you too many units a week and transport cafes closed down if you put two spoons of sugar in your tea. They will comply and they will enforce the rules because the penalty will fall harder on them than on you.
They'll never know when they're being watched.