by Max Barry

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The Loquacious Lipograms of
Left-wing Utopia

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Sweet metropoli

Many of Zwangzug's modern-day largest cities are what simplistically-minded metropologists have termed "second-generation" establishments, formed by the jaded descendants of the utopians who settled the "first-generation" communities.

Link102d: A holdover from the days when blending numbers and letters was in particular vogue, 102d has always been on the cutting edge of true innovation. And pointless fads, hence its nearly-as-grandiose tradition of falling miserably off said edge. But what's life without a little risk? 102d is twinned with Sokojito Dosi, Paripana, and will presumably be so over this whole government thing well before the rest of us.

LinkArlington: The northeast metropolis is considered a fairly accurate representation of Zwangzug on a miniature scale. It's comparatively young, having overshadowed its older neighbor Weegham, and some animosity lingers between the cities. With tall skyscrapers housing a large population, cold northern weather, and environmentally-friendly restriction of car use, it's hardly a surprise Arlington's greatest claim to fame is its thirteen miles of skyways, the seventh-longest system in the world. Arlington's suburbs include Latini and Elapinta. It is twinned with Anyuna, Northern bettia, in a classically idealistic attempt to make cultural benefit both nations, or alternatively fail to inspire lesson plans for second-graders at North Star Elementary.

LinkBassabook: Located in the southeast, Bassabook is more socially conservative than the majority of Zwangzug, and the country's insistence on free-speech policies has sometimes irritated the city. Anything smacking of revisionist history will also not go over well-while that's perhaps a more nationwide sentiment, it's most associated with the southeastern region. Nevertheless, the city is considered a cultural center, especially when it comes to music, and hosts a beautiful downtown plaza complete with pretty-looking fountain. Bassabook is twinned with Nordville, Brutland and Norden, and Zapata, Candelaria And Marquez, and this sentence has too many "ands".

Bergs: Zwangzug has a historic German-speaking population, which has yielded a scattering of "burg"s throughout the country. Many of these have degenerated to "berg"s, often without retaining any German connection. The largest such is Frischberg, located in Layford. Once a religious haven, LinkFrischberg is currently considered an oversize college town. Ueberg, for its part, is similarly lacking in native German speakers (though they fake it well), but was arbitrarily excluded from Tulf anyway by consolidators nervous that putting it in the same district with, say, Cham (the largest city of Tulf) would foster too strong of a German regional identity. Ueberg is instead located on the western fringes of Ostulf, which, oddly enough, doesn't actually have an etymological connection with its neighbor.

The Border Cities: Three reasonably large cities with nothing else in common are often linked together because of their influences from nearby ex-nations. Southern Zwangzug has a society heavily influenced by Unkerlantum/Travda as well as its original settlements; Kerlagrad is the largest city in the region. Modre and Ferahgotopia have likewise contributed to the culture of Inver and Logrove respectively.

LinkCanbix: Canbix is quite probably the origin of the partially-accurate stereotype of second-generation cities as hopeless hotbeds of cynicism, and if it's not, it could be. Its founders rejected the communal living of their forebears in exchange for large skyscrapers hosting soul-sucking corporations and large polluting factories. The subsequent policies of the nanny state have given Canbix the claim on the country's most useless skyline, hands down.

LinkThe FTC When the most appropriate name used to refer to a metropolitan area is the subject of this much debate, something's up. When the debate is entirely deserved, lots of things are up, and such is the way of life in and around the FTC, or whatever you'd like to call it/them/the large metropolitan area in Tarang County (and Picardy County, actually, but mostly Tarang).

FTC probably stands, or at one point in time probably stood, for the "fraternal twin cities"; Zwangzug's two largest cities unfortunately coincidentally wound up bordering each other, and they're anything but identical. Both were named in nods to mythical municipalities in places and times far away. This is anything but uncommon in Zwangzug, and most cities are able to manage similar situations just fine. (Not all of them, but "New wait what's it called, skip it and go with York" did have it coming, to be brutally honest.) In the case of these two, however, their names were seen as linked to a particular style of nationalism that the government was trying to downplay (along with all the other styles). But when lumping it all together as the FTC became an acceptable standard, they started complaining, and there's no chance we'll hear the end of it any time soon.

West-side Merano is insufferably sophisticated, though hosting WorldVision Song Contest 2 was seen as one of the city's bright spots. Paying lip service to socialism while trying to get itself an economy, it's twinned with Serelian, Swilatia; Rêvane, Ariddia; Port Imbris, Cookesland; and Albrecht, Candelaria And Marquez, in worryingly friendly style that causes the rest of the country to look at it kinda funny. Across the Oyster River one finds Bangkok, with the country's tallest skyscrapers hanging precipitously over narrow streets. 23rd Street, for instance, hosts the final of an annual cycling road race and cuts through Hanville, which might explain the presence of Shu, Nguyen, Yang, Kim, and Lin among Zwangzug's Olympian cyclists. The city's had a considerably poor reputation for crime and corruption to overcome, and is generally succeeding. Today's graffiti will simply be overwritten by tomorrow's. Just one word of thumb, wherever you have to go and however important you think your appointment is, it's not more important than wherever that biker with the pizza has to go. It's really not. Don't even try.

The t-shirts displaying a map topologically equivalent to the cities' train routes (with the notorious "figure eight" in the middle) are actually sort of nifty and not a bad gift for tourists.

Hope City: One of the largest first-generation cities, Zwangzug's Hope City (cities with similar names being comparatively prevalent throughout the multiverse) is certainly its clearest example of grandiose planning. The original streets formed a circular pattern with the main hubs emanating from City Hall. The modern conversion to a predominantly train-based system of transportation may have reduced travel times, but provoked much grousing at the loss of charm. Makes for good tourism, though.

Jingo: Awkwardly located very near the ICE2 train line, Jingo probably isn't big enough to deserve as many InterCity lines as it has, but it made a convincing case that it's on the way from Zwischen to Keppal City anyway, so there you have it. In the awkward position of being, by some measure, the largest city in Quewi, which in practice makes it the home of the most urban Ianix--except for the Ianix in the actual big city right nearby. The name comes from the Ianix word for "city", by the way, not from jingoism or anything like that. They have a cricket team.

Kedzy: The stereotypical resident of Kedzy would be glad to tell you about their city's wonderful education system, its well-maintained urban parks, and its thriving cultural scene (for its size, it has the country's highest ratio of jazz musicians to people whose endemic musical tradition actually developed from oppression or whatever). After that discussion, you might realize that it's actually pretty average as far as Zwangzug goes. Except, it's full of Kedzy natives, who work hard to make it stays #1 at stuff, so maybe that's why it's special.

Keppal City: A commercial hub centuries in the past, Keppal became the dominant force in its region, so much so that the much of the surrounding westlands was considered "Greater Keppal". When the modern electoral districts were established by national bureaucrats hoping to solidify their control, rather than let city-states get any more powerful, those westlands became Keppal District. The city, of course, wound up in neighboring Egalia. The resentment's faded somewhat, but Keppal City is still considered a hub of anti-nationalist thought in Zwangzug...though admittedly it's not always easy to tell.

Kindtown: Another first-generation city that's not as grandiose as the name suggests, Kindtown got its chance to shine in the 60s when it a) provided aid to the eventual Zwischen in time of civil unrest and b) was home to the first champion of a consciously "Zwangzugian" sports league, the National League of baseball. Now known as a college town.

Marsey: Home to the "Narrow Road", a strip filled with moderately-acclaimed theaters (the soundproof walls greatly enhanced their musical abilities, as orchestration frequently drowned out the silent minimalism across the street), and a nearby foody district that showcases regional specialties from across the country.

Mockba: Those weird southerners who speak Russian a lot and who you can't trust because they never take anything seriously, Mockba is to Kerlagrad as Kerlagrad is to the rest of the country. You don't need to look any farther than the English paper of non-record, the Mockba Picayune-Picayune (the merger of the Mockba Picayune, and the Mockba Evening Picayune, which contained all the news you wouldn't believe if it was printed in the Picayune). Although you can, since The News at Thirteen is filmed here as well.

Noh Weir: The self-proclaimed "micropolis" is the most infamous first-generation city gone wrong. It was settled and abandoned multiple times over the years. After the population stabilized, it finally decided it would be better off more closely connected to the larger country. Today, when the city appears in the news, it is most often featuring a leveled-off population and requesting yet another new monorail station. Unfortunately, these are correlated.

LinkNuel: Nuel is the greatest example of the "first-and-a-half generation" cities, and the only one to be of any importance today. Rather than fleeing the brutal outside world, its founders were puritans seeking a less corrupt society than they found elsewhere. The whole city-on-a-hill thing didn't quite work out, largely to its location in the middle of a valley, and it's gradually become more cosmopolitan over time. The modern architecture is generally accepted as Zwangzug's finest, given most of the country's rather dim view of "pointless" ostentatiousness.

Outrive: The largest city in Rolea, which isn't saying much. They needed somewhere to put a weather station so we can keep track of how cold the Rackham Range actually is.

Shorn: Originally just a decently-sized northern city, which made it home to a large number of, how you say, people whose last names end in -son or -sen or something but aren't patronymics, at least not anymore. Much of the first wave of Bigtopians settled here, however (presumably, if they had enough culture shock to deal with anyway, you might as well throw in the snow), leading to unique cultural dynamics. Currently, Shorn's diverse residents enjoy social bonding through gridiron football and/or crime sprees.

(The modern wave of Bigtopian refugees coming to Shorn should be distinguished from an older cohort of the diaspora who found themselves discriminated against in third-party countries and fled to Zwangzug generations before. Many of them settled in and around Great Bear Depot in what is now Dauclem. Some, but not all, descendants of this ethnic group tend to have more established "Zwangzugian" names--see modern-day politicians Alexander McCarthy, Janice McFly, and especially new Composite Minister Erin Splinter. Some of them are more conservative/Christian-esque. They should not be considered to be part of the same "clique" as the Shorn-based Bigtopians in many aspects.)

LinkSpenson: Spenson is one of Zwangzug's youngest metropolitan areas for its size, having plenty of Linksuburbs. Perhaps too many, seeing how long it would take for them all to get there, but eleven billion citizens need somewhere to go...

The original spaceport was built in what's now first-ring suburb Nikaunt, and Spenson's commercial area developed around it, bordered by "The Flats": ugly barrack-style housing. After the space program's failure, Spenson grew anyway. More recently, a new spaceport has been constructed in third-ring Kreig, and residential skyscrapers have sprung up in "Tallside". The odd juxtaposition of Tallside with last generation's comparatively flat commercial area has earned Spenson the nickname of "the upside-down city". It has some of the country's best sporting stadia, and has been known to have players good enough to fill them. Team chemistry is a farcical concept, however, except in, of all things...lacrosse. Too young for old-fashioned styles of cultural stuff, Spenson does have several excellent comedy improv troupes.

Hadiln, located somewhat to the northwest of Spenson, is not a suburb, completely unrelated, it was there first, and is its very own city thank you very much. Glad that's clear. Spenson proper is twinned with Abadia, Cafundéu and El din, Candelaria And Marquez.

Zwischen: Originally, Zwischen was one of if not the the country's most important second-generation cities, but it turned insular as it grew. After the traumatic urban riots of the mid-1960s, the city was forced to rebuild and remind residents of their (theoretically) common heritage. The national consolidation came shortly after, and Zwischen became the capital. With all that history, it's not a great surprise that it too has struggled to hold down a consistent name over time.

Other first-generation cities

The study of history has never been a big deal in Zwangzug, and the history of many of its cities is only now coming to light. Recently, more information has been unearthed about some cities whose founders come from countries still active in the international community.


Settlers came from...

Die Riedesel Gemeinde

Neo Prutenia

Lorenta Kaleisi




Sukali Vinkise


The True Illith'a'hiari


New Smokyland

Victorious Decepticons

If you're wondering whatever happened to your utopians who slipped away back in the day, why not ask us?

Ecklam cities: The northwestern district's population has grown rapidly since the country started actually existing. Its burgeoning cities have responded in slightly different ways; Belpub is content to be a relatively normal city with a baseball team (and actually challenges Spenson at lacrosse, though to no avail). Twineur was slightly cheekier about the whole thing; its residents were somewhat prone to playing off the historical obscurity of the northwest. The University of Twineur is a well-respected institution in its own right, but some of its alumni seem to deliberately try and convince others that yeah, Twineur is the district Belpub is in, haven't you ever been northwest...? At long last, it has embraced its tendencies for precipitation and adopted the halfhearted nickname "City of Snow Angels."

Namiri cities: Located in the northeast of Namiri, Sharag has been stuck with the moniker of "gateway to the southwest" for several decades. For the most part, it has accepted this role, welcoming a new museum placed at the whims of the southwest's true cultural center (and largest city), Guariday. Unlike much of Zwangzug, Guariday disdains skyscrapers in flavor of sprawling houses (and in particularly flukish cases, treehouses). The unfortunate anthropologist asking directions to "the city" will be met with a vague wave of the hand and "somewhere over that way", trekking for hours before realizing that there's nothing more to Guariday--a sizable proportion of its residents sincerely believe themselves to live in the suburbs.

Despite this sprawl, Guariday manages to be insufferably environmentalist (to be fair, they're insufferably everything else too). This is aided by means of an underground train to Sharag. Tourists hoping to visit the southwest's famed rainforests, therefore, are invited to protect them by not actually seeing them--a rather frustrating bait-and-switch.

Slogda cities: Few cities welcomed the statewide consolidation more than Hapra, a second-generation city located in north Slogda. Beset by various crises through the centuries, Hapra attempted to defend itself by joining loose federations of cities; when one fell apart, it would search for a new successor. At last, it was tossed into the new Slogda district along with Craton, located at the foothills of the Alai Mountains. Craton's easygoing residents, by contrast, have had relatively few non-yodeling-induced crises, and welcomed their new neighbors. Though the concept of Slogda as a united region was brand-new at the Consolidation, Hapra and Craton have made it an easy transition.

Yeaun cities: Yeaun also features two major cities, but they are very polarized politically. Trink was originally a typical, small, first-generation city that was partially abandoned in the late 1920s and early 1930s. In the late '30s and early '40s, however, instability throughout the multiverse created a new wave of refugees. Trink's population soared once more until it overshadowed that of Danhy, some distance to the west. Danhy, however, would grow in the later '40s, though the reasons for its newcomers' arrival remain less clear.

Since then, there has been an uncomfortable tension between the larger but poorer Trink and "elitist" Danhy. The nature of the parliamentary elections makes this abundantly clear; in general, the National Socialist Grammarian Writers' Party has tended to poll extremely high in Danhy but extremely poorly in Trink, and the ultimate winners of the instant runoff rarely amass few first-place votes overall.