I had an extra few days in Italy without much planned. So I decided to take the fast train from Rome to Venice.
For some reason, I hadn’t made the connection before… Venice is possibly the best place in the world to climb into my fiction.
I even described the “seastead” in my latest story, The Gulf, as somewhat reminiscent of Venice. Although I had never been before, pictures of the canals and arched bridges were an old-timey version of how I pictured Gulf Sails in 2099.
The man-made floating island allows hexagonal platforms to dock to it. They fit into the next like a honeycomb but don’t quite touch. This leaves canals of ocean between.
When I got to Venice, I realized what should have been obvious– the options for transportation in the city are walking, or boating. So I took a water taxi through the canals until I was just a few blocks from my Airbnb.
And to explore the rest of the city, I walked.
I walked through narrow alleyways of inconsistent width. I stumbled across squares lined with shops and restaurants. I stepped over staircase-bridges that take pedestrians high enough so gondolas and water taxis can pass beneath.
I dead-ended more than a few times at a canal. And the whole time, there was not a car in sight.
Boats glided through the busiest five-way intersections without slowing down, without an obvious–to me at least–traffic pattern… no yellow painted center lines.
This was as close as I could come to stepping into the seastead in my mind.
I have always naturally tended to set my fiction in places I am familiar with. My first book was set in New England, and the second in the woods of Vermont.
But now I think I’ll make it habit to find places that can serve as surrogates for my futuristic settings.
Strangely enough, I just heard there is a club in Atlanta, Georgia that used to be a church.