One of the interesting processes of developing the Lucid Peninsula storyworld was the effects of a more or less throwaway statement during the world building, scenario building exercise. “No plastics.” What the reason for this lack of plastics in the scenario could be, remained unspoken. Possibilities that arose later included a post oil world, a ban on plastics due to polluting effects or the arising of plastic eating bacteria or fungii that make plastics unusable because they just get digested. Other explanations arose, and we decided that we would leave the reason open. We also decided that we would modify our “no” to “little” – as though plastics had become rare and valuable, only used where absolutely necessary. So for the medical gear we had some plastics, but otherwise there was almost none. And on the gear that went outside, not a scrap of plastic was to be found.
As a result of this, many things that would usually be done with plastics had to be re-thought. Which often mean re-discovering the technologies that plastics have replaced. Plastics have not been around for very long, so the techniques and materials that they have displaced are still known. We made the seals for the air filter system from cork. The window convering, to keep dust and bad air out, was not made with plastic sheeting but with latex painted fabric. Flexible fittings were made with leather and linseed oil treated canvas, heat trested to accelerate the polymerisation process: essentially a natural plastic. However we took on the possibilities that contemporary tech offers us. Cutting and, in particular, piercing leather to sew it, can be difficult. But with the Laser cutter from our friends at Papplab, we were able to cut the shapes precisely and pre-pierce the sewing holes / slits easily.
These techniques will stay with us. One thing that the Resilients projects, including CoC and Floating Village have taught us, is that these older technologies continue to offer ways of making things, in ways that offer a lot. The aesthetics of steel will still, for us, trump aluminium and extruded plastics, in a Jules Verne kind of way.