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Joined: Fri 08 Mar 2019, 11:49
Location: Japan

Tales from the Long Line

Fri 08 Mar 2019, 13:03

Tales of the Long Line

Or it could be called  Nagai gyō no monogatari

This is an alternate setting I'm working on creating for Japan. Instead of a Loop, the focus for technological weirdness is a massive linear particle accelerator and collider.

Begun in 1974 and completed by early 1985, the Long Line was the most ambitious energy physics project ever undertaken in Japan, half the cost was funded by the International Energy Research Consortium, half by the Japanese government. The Long Line consists of a double-loop of particle accelerators on each end, with a linear particle accelerator 80-kilometres long built entirely underground between them. Officially it’s named the Kinki International High Energy Linear Collider (KIHELC), but the media pundits found that name too much of a mouthful, so it quickly became known as the Nagai Gyō in Japan, which was translated as the “Long Line” in English.

The Long Line stretches along the western side of Shiga prefecture in a straight line from the far north near the border with Fukui prefecture to close to the city of Ootsu. The entire length, and the cyclotron loops on either end, are underground. Dug from the bedrock through mountains. Above the surface, for the majority of the Long Line’s length there is little to be seen except occasional blocky windowless maintenance-access buildings (normally only 2 to 5 storeys high) of ugly bland concrete.

Since the Long Line was completed, Shiga prefecture and the nearby Kyoto and Nara prefectures have become a magnet for more research projects. Most of which are highly secretive, some military, and some run by private corporations. These run the gamut from robotics to genetic engineering to alternative forms of energy.

Shiga prefecture is famed in Japan for having the largest inland sea, Lake Biwa (called Biwako), a freshwater lake that is extraordinarily deep at the northern end so nobody is sure if it's been accurately measured. There are 4 islands in Biwako as well, one of which - Chikubushima - according to myth has small "invisible" dragons and is haunted by yokai (monsters) at night.

Japan in the 1980s was in the midst of an enormous economic boom. People were partying hard, money came easily, and was spent as easily again. This was the era of big socks, short-short skirts, and teenage toughs with long coats. A time when young couples kissing in public would receive the unwelcome attention of the police (who rode bicycles too). It was also when Japan looked set to become the economic superpower of the world. Until 1992 when the Bubble popped, and Japan entered what has been called the "Lost Decade".

I had the good fortune to discover that my wife still has her school atlas from 1980, and we have some other old maps too.