by Max Barry

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The Loquacious Lipograms of
Left-wing Utopia

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Happy is the nation that has no history

It is believed that historic Unker settlers were the first inhabitants of Zwangzug, though their residence was not permanent. But since the sixth century or so, permanent settlements began. Legend has it that the first of those were fleeing an oppressive monarch who demanded more rice than was humanly possible for the humble commoners to produce, under the leadership of a wise adviser to the king who realized the folly of his leader's ways (more cynical sources suggest the demand for foodstuffs was somehow his fault and he was bailing).

Later arrivals would settle in different parts of the country, but the pattern was much the same; they came in large clumps at a time, usually utopian communities from abroad, looking for fresh starts. They often named their city-states in honor (or, recent hypotheses posit, parody) of preexisting areas from their homelands. Plenty of these thrived, but many fell by the wayside. The remnants of these failed towns often congregated to larger, more cosmopolitan cities with less idealistic histories. These became centers of trade and opportunities for various peoples to connect, with Descriptive English becoming a lingua franca.

Time passed and technology improved, but these cycles continued without major variation. Some confederations of cities arose, but most of these too were abandoned. Throughout the early 1800s, the rise of railroads made much of the northeast more connected--and brought linguistic differences and time-measuring discrepancies, even in cities close to each other, to light. Some sentiment turned towards tighter national unity, which reached its peak in the establishment of the northeastern "Zwangzug Confederacy" in 1848. It quickly fell apart in a wave of unrest known as Der Sturm. After this, the population in larger cities began to increase. It is believed that this reflects a more pragmatic era--though this phenomenon is difficult to track statistically, because failed revolutions elsewhere in the world led to more utopian communities being established within Zwangzug as well.

Around 1965, rioting peaked in the modern capital; the details are highly unclear and disputed. A few fringe religious believers claim time travel was involved; others suggest it was just "the sixties" with tempers in a walled city growing to a head. Whatever the case, the outcome was devastating; many people died, and others relied on aid from other cities. Still, those who survived with crossbows and baseball bats in hand were reminded of their shared heritage, and while older surviors stayed behind to try and work out a system for building intercity roads, the "veterans" of the "war" began the Consolidation--driving throughout Zwangzug and uniting it as a country.

Next: post-Consolidation history

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