Metropolis Ring City

Urbanised Banks Orbital Megastructure

Urban Cloudscapes
Image from Steve Bowers
The tops of many buildings in the City poke through the clouds

Metropolis Ring City - Data Panel

SystemName: Metropolis
Primary: Ho Jong Star (YTS 2190-5310-95)
Stellar Type: K
Companion: none
Region: MPA Middle Regions
Distance from Sol 659 ly
RA 277.75
Dec -18.3
PlanetsDevelopment is banned on the system's planets and their moons. Only a set allotment of visitors are permitted, and these are chosen by lottery from those who have applied for the necessary permits.
-Dinocrates: Cytherean
-Penn: EoArean (now disassembled)
-L'Enfant: TundralPelagic
-Corbusier: HydroJovian
-Haussmann: MesoJovian (now disassembled)
-Burnham: EuJovian
Megastructure TypeBanks Orbital
Dimensions: Width of 2,000 km, diameter of 10,000,000 km, and circumference of 31,415,926.5 km
AIAI Overseer: E Who Dreams of Urban Cloudscapes
AI's Ethos: Hobbyist
PolityName: Metropolis Ring City (also known as Metropolis, MRC, Urban Cloudscapes City, or simply, the City)
Symbol: Idealised Banks Orbital Ring with cityscape
Affiliation: Mutual Progress Association
Founded: construction began 4785 AT, completed 5345
Tech Level: Mostly Ultratech, but some districts are Transapient-tech or of lower-tech levels
Territory and PopulationPopulation:
-Modosophonts: 2.946 quadrillion
--Tweaks: 28%
--Vecs: 25%
--Nearbaselines: 11%
--Provolves: 9%
--Neogens: 8%
--Virtuals: 6%
--Cyborgs: 5%
--Rianths: 4%
--Splices: 2%
--Superiors: 1%
--Xenosophonts: 1%
--Other: 1%
-S1: 31,230
-S2: 6
Territories: Ho Jong/Metropolis system.
Current Immigration/Emigration (excluding tourism):
Immigration - 4.35 trillion per year
Emigration - 2.77 trillion per year
Government and AdministrationGovernment Type: Cyberdemocracy with transapient memetic guidance
Administrative Divisions: The City is divided into 100 Shires, each divided into 100 Burbs, each divided into 100 Wards, each divided into 100 Districts, each usually with a population of tens of millions
Holidays: Construction Day, Completion Day, Urban Cloudscapes Assembly Day, Development Day, many local festivals
Constitution: Urban Cloudscapes' city charter
Legal System: Based on Beta Arae protocols
Economics and InfrastructureCurrency: The Metro. Foreign monies are also widely used in some areas and if Sephirotic have a very good exchange rate
Major Industries: Tourism, urban planning and design, virch entertainment, marketing statistics, ethnological databases, art
Angelnetting: Comprehensive
TravelStargate: Urban Legends - 5500 meter gauge to Kepleria, MPA
Beamrider routes: 100 beamlines
Lightways: 100
Spaceport: Starway Hub, a continent sized space station located at the center of the ring. Shuttles depart from here down to locations on the ring itself
Public Transport/Local Travel: Space transports and underground high speed trains for long distance. Various other short distance forms of transportation are used in the districts depending on their art style
Hazard Rating: 0
Visa Restrictions: None
Freedom of Movement: No restrictions
Environmental Requirements: The entire orbital is an Earth-standard environment


Metropolis Ring City was built during the early ComEmp period by the S3 MPA habitat artisan E Who Dreams of Urban Cloudscapes. Urban Cloudscapes had requested of, and received permission from, the regional archailect Vast Builder ownership of Ho Jong Star (YTS 2190-5310-95) and its system of planets. The few hundred local inhabitants, mostly vecs and two S1 Von Neumann ships, were compensated and offered relocation, although some preferred to stay and witness the construction.

Over several centuries the EoArean planet Penn was dismantled and carefully rebuilt as a Banks orbital, since Urban Cloudscapes wanted a single, rigid structure (and not an array of separate habitats like a Dyson swarm).

Urban Cloudscapes wanted eir city to be the biggest and most varied the galaxy would ever see, and knew that for that to happen, the megastructure would have to be well connected to the rest of Terragen society. Therefore, an agreement was made with a Solar Dominion linelayer to connect the system to the Wormhole Nexus, as long as Urban Cloudscapes supplied the matter for conversion to exotic matter. The MesoJovian gas giant Haussmann was disassembled for this purpose, resulting in a stargate to the relay system of Kepleria, MPA. (Replicas of Penn, Haussmann, and their moons can still be visited among the City's few virchworlds.)

The orbital was completed in 5345, and given the name Metropolis Ring City. With a total habitable surface area of 300 billion sq km, populating this entire area with various forms of urban development would be an enormous project. Although Urban Cloudscapes could of course mass-produce neogens and vecs to populate the City, e wanted eir city to be populated by sophonts that already had a past - their own individuality and personality - so as to bring depth and richness to life in the City.

After several nanoseconds of pondering this and looking for a solution, Urban Cloudscapes decided on a course of action. A major Sephirotic raid had recently taken place on ahuman Diamond Network transapients that were found to keep modosophonts as property, resulting in an influx of billions of sophonts that needed to be given a place to live and introduced into Sephirotic civilization. E offered to take in these refugees, to guide them as they recovered, and let them be some of the founding members of eir city. The liberated sophonts were thrilled to be free, and quite enjoyed the new surroundings. From that time on, word spread, and Metropolis became known as a refuge for the exploited and abused of the galaxy. Entire societies and institutes were set up by Urban Cloudscapes and eir agents and citizens to work at freeing captive sophonts anywhere they may be.

In addition, Urban Cloudscapes contacted many old ludd and prim worlds, which had many inhabitants who were born into that lifestyle rather than choosing it, and offered them the chance to join eir modern Metropolis. Many seized the opportunity and added to the now growing population of the City.

E also began a memetic campaign via the Known Net to entice many to move to Metropolis. Many had not had the opportunity to live in what would be such a vast and diverse urban landscape, in close proximity to so many others. Also, some relished the opportunity to reproduce without any short term limits. As a result, many more individuals began to flood into the City.

With populating the City now arranged for, Urban Cloudscapes arranged to fulfill the second part of eir vision - to make the great City a showcase of every style of urban planning, every school of architecture, yet known. To that end, e would assign each of the tens of millions of districts - each one to be populated by tens of millions of sophonts - out to every urban planner, architect, artist, social engineer, and any other qualified individual that e could, from diverse clades, for them to design the cityscape, tech level, and culture of their district.

Each district would thereafter be run as a cyberdemocracy, but with limited subtle memetic guidance from Urban Cloudscapes as needed to maintain order. Many districts have upheld the vision of their designers down to the present day, while many others for some or all of the intervening time have abandoned that original design in favor of new plans, or no plan, just as countless cities throughout history have done.

As the millennia passed, the sprawl of the city gradually reached all the way around the ring, until the final district was developed in 10329. This day is now celebrated every year as Development Day.

In fulfillment of Urban Cloudscapes' vision, the City is by far the largest urban environment in the Terragen Sphere and is expected to remain so for quite some time. In population and land area it vastly exceeds 1st century speculations of cities covering a mere Earth-sized planet. The population of the City yet still continues to grow via redevelopment of lower density areas where the local district government allows it.

Airborne Towns above Metropolis Ring
Image from Steve Bowers
A couple of Airborne Towns float above Metropolis City Ring; on the right-hand side of this image, the rim wall can be distantly seen


The districts of the City range in density from single family homes on up to enormous skyscrapers many kilometers high. The architectural style also varies widely, with some districts having every single building and streetscape designed by one person, and others having many different styles within them. Some consist entirely of arcologies, while others are more or less divided into residential, commercial, and industrial areas.

Running down the exact middle of the ring, around its entire circumference, is the Grand Concourse. This 2-kilometer wide 'street' or boulevard varies in its style according to the will of the districts that happen to border it. It may be paved, landscaped, or left wild. It is often open air, but is enclosed in certain locations. In some areas it even consists of a waterway, with many types of boats traveling on it. In all cases, though, the Grand Concourse serves as an important public meeting and discussion place.

Floating through the skies of the City are the Airborne Towns. Some of these towns are flocks of many small dirigibles, while others may be just a single large fullair. The vast majority of Airborners are adherents to the Vagabond Way, a memeplex extolling the thrill of traveling and finding new places to experience. (Other groups following the Vagabond Way travel via city streets or waterways.) Airborners will stop at a location from time to time to share in sightseeing and festivals with the local population. A visit by one of these groups is widely considered a great honor.

Although the vast majority of the population lives on the inner side of the ring, a few districts are situated on the rim walls and even in the vacuum of space, whether on the outer side of the walls or on the underside of the structure. On the inner side, if the walls are designed to look like mountains, wall-clinging districts may be built out of stone or carved into the rock. Conversely, on unmodified sheer walls, such districts may be attached on shelves, perhaps as high as dozens of kilometers above the floor of the ring. On the outer side of the walls, in the vacuum of space, these locales may consist of enclosed buildings and habitats, or they may be populated by vecs or vac-adapted bionts.

Scattered along the underside of the ring are districts known collectively as the Underground. These areas are 'upside down,' with gravity pointing away from the base of the buildings. Some of these are enclosed with air on the inside, while others are open to space and house vecs and vac-adapted bionts.

Some districts are themed by various periods in history. There are, for example, districts that are simply enormous Stone Age villages, others themed by the Agricultural, Industrial, and Information Ages, yet others imitating the surroundings and domed cities of early interplanetary colonies. Yet, in all cases, the citizens are fully protected by the angelnet and have indirect access, in some way, to all the benefits of modern technology, even though in some of these historical districts they may be required to use certain forms of dress, transportation, and so on. A few districts are even efforts at exact re-creations of specific cities from the past.

Following is a small set of examples of some of the more famous districts:

City of the Boulevards: This district is divided into a strict grid of 4 km square 'superblocks.' Within these superblocks, the minor streets are themselves laid out in a perfect grid pattern. The streets separating the superblocks from each other are 0.5 km wide Boulevards. Each Boulevard is a canyon, with the sides made of all types of high rise buildings set tightly next to each other. The canyon floor, the green center of the Boulevard, is a beautiful park with a variety of landscape designs. Each intersection of Boulevards is a roundabout, with its own landscaping in the center. The combination of nature and urban living has made City of the Boulevards one of Metropolis' most exclusive districts.

Piperville: While from above Piperville simply looks like an inland sea, a look under water reveals the district's true wonder. A unique streetscape and architectural style covers the seafloor. Submarine cars are a common mode of transport between various sections of town. The vast majority of this district's population, from whom its name is derived, is made up of members of the xenosophont Piper species. A small minority made up of other underwater clades also call it home. Piperville contains the largest population of Pipers outside of their home planet. It was designed by the Piper architect B-Flat-Major-4th-Supra-D-Sharp, and is considered her crowning achievement.

Favela: This district was inspired by the motley slums that existed on Old Earth in the Information Age and early Interplanetary Age. The mountains and valleys of Favela are entirely covered in shacks of an array of sizes and colors, separated only by narrow walkways winding haphazardly between the buildings. A common hobby for tourists to this district is to wander randomly and get lost in the street network, all the while socializing, sampling street food, and browsing merchandise. While the sophonts who live here may seem poor, they have all freely chosen this simple lifestyle and are in no danger from a lack of food, healthcare, or clean water.

Icetown: Ice is the only permitted building material in Icetown. The district itself is completely enclosed by a climate control structure, keeping the interior at -20 degrees Celsius. Inside, the buildings have all been carved out of large ice blocks, or assembled from small ones. Within this restriction, however, Icetown showcases many different forms of architecture. The ice comes in many different hues, depending on the chemical and mineral impurities within. The district itself is made up of various neighborhoods, ranging from Downtown, with its brilliant blue ice skyscrapers, to the outer suburbs, made up of single family homes. While most of Icetown's population consists of cold adapted clades, the climate is tolerable even for a few human nearbaselines who call it home.

Suburbia: Suburbia is entirely flat and consists of nothing but single family homes, little apartment buildings, small shopping centers, and minor industry, strictly regulated to imitate the appearance of the outer regions of American cities from around 50 AT. Covering over 55,000 sq km, the district is among the largest in area in Metropolis. Like its namesake in history, many sophonts moved to Suburbia to have their own separate home along with a little slice of nature. Unlike its namesake, however, Suburbia is a popular tourist attraction. Here one can get an immersive historical experience not usually found outside of virchworlds.

Transapient Towers: This district, though populated solely by a few thousand S1 transapients, was officially designed by the nearbaseline social engineer Aurora Akerman. She did no city planning or architecture herself, but instead sought out transapients of all types who were agreeable to living in such an experimental society. The city and building design were then turned over to the transapients of Aurora's choosing. The experiment is widely considered a success, and the towers they designed have won countless awards. This district, despite its very low population, tops most other districts in artistic output.

Metropolis Ocean: The surface of the ocean is punctuated by tall buildings rising out of the sea. Many more buildings and houses are entirely under water. Unlike many other underwater districts, Metropolis Ocean has no water dwelling sophonts at all. Instead, land dwelling clades inhabit buildings designed to keep the water out, while providing excellent views of a neogen underwater ecology. Many of the buildings are connected via glass walkways, while others can only be reached by submarine car or by swimming over with a scuba suit.

Subterra: At first glance, Subterra simply looks like a nature park, with mountains, lakes, and a few cabins and houses scattered around. On more detailed inspection, however, the urban nature of this district becomes clear. Subterra consists of a single, huge building rising up from the ground level of the districts around it. The 'roof' of the building is in fact the park, which is a popular recreation space among the district's residents. It can only be reached by the few houses and caves that are on the roof, as each of these leads to the indoor portion of the structure. Inside Subterra, including inside its mountains, are dozens of floors of living space. Shopping and other practical and recreational uses are also found here. In addition, there are several smaller parks set within cavernous rooms multiple floors in height.

Starscraper Heights: Too populous to be a single district, Starscraper Heights is actually a collection of 3 Burbs, made up of 300 Wards totaling 30,000 Districts, with a population of 1.1 trillion, and all personally designed by Urban Cloudscapes emself. The buildings here are all 'starscrapers' - no building shorter than 95 km was permitted to be built. Each starscraper's support structure is made of diamondoid and has a base of about 26 sq km, each tower having tens of thousands of floors, and holding about a billion people. The starscrapers individually have a unique architectural style, followed from bottom to top. At regular intervals along their height, aircars shuttle persons from one tower to another. Tourists to the district will often spend weeks exploring various things to see and do in each tower as they gradually make their way to the very top. In some ways, Starscraper Heights is the capital of Metropolis Ring City. It is also the most exclusive and coveted living space on the entire megastructure.
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Development Notes
Text by ProxCenBound
From an original by M. Alan Kazlev; rewritten 19 January 2018
Initially published on 15 September 2002.

Fiction about Metropolis Ring City

The Difficulty in Crossing the City