The Worlds of Android

The world changed. People did not.

The Worlds of Android is your definitive guide to the Android setting and its unique vision of the future. A beautiful, 272-page hardbound setting guide and art book, The Worlds of Android features full-color art, stunning gatefolds, and a polyphony of narrative voices that convey the immense diversity of human experience in the rich, fictional universe made famous by Android: Netrunner and the Android board game.

Mankind has spread itself out across the solar system with varying degrees of success. The Moon and Mars are colonized. A plan to terraform Mars is well underway, hindered only by a civil war that has broken out on that planet. On Earth, a massive space elevator has been built, stretching up into the sky. It is the hub of trade in the solar system, and most people refer to it as the “Beanstalk.”

Enormous megacorporations, called corps by most, influence every facet of daily life: food, threedee, music, career choices. Jinteki and Haas-Bioroid redefine life itself, making clones and bioroids with braintaped, artificially intelligent minds. The Weyland Consortium owns a piece of everything that goes up or down the Beanstalk, and everything goes up or down the Beanstalk. Finally, NBN shapes what you think and dream, with the most extensive media network ever conceived on Earth under their control.

Throughout its three sections, The Worlds of Android explores these corps and their most visionary innovations. It explores what technological advances and extraterrestrial expansion mean to a human population that no longer resides exclusively on Earth. And it explores the question of what it means to be human in a world filled with clones, bioroids, and other forms of artificial intelligence.

                   

It Is the Future. The World Changed. People Did Not.

The not-too-distant future described by The Worlds of Android features technology that may appear miraculous by present-day standards, but as with much of the best science fiction, the setting consistently aims toward the plausibility that originates from a seed of truth.

More importantly, there's one element that's immediately recognizable within the Android setting—its vision of humanity. In essence, humanity remains unchanged; humanity's circumstances have changed, but human nature has not. Accordingly, we see ourselves within the people of Android, we identify with one or another of its many fictional figures, and we are motivated to pursue the answers to the questions they ask.

As much as it is an exploration of futuristic technologies, locations, events, and cultures, The Worlds of Android is an engaging reflection on what it means to be human. And not just what it means to be some generic "human," but what it means to be an individual within a world that all its possibilities have enabled. What freedoms would we enjoy? What luxuries? What responsibilities would we have? At their core, the Android universe and the games set within it challenge us to consider both the largest of scales and the most intimately personal. It is a setting of "vast economic forces filtered down to the level of a single individual" as Android universe co-creator Kevin Wilson notes in his foreword to the book.

                   

                   

Excerpt from the Foreword by Kevin Wilson

"The Android universe first started as a conversation in a van on the way home from a game convention with my friend and colleague Dan Clark. I had some rough ideas about a setting I wanted to pitch to Christian for a board game, but it was that conversation that crystalized those thoughts into what would later become the kernel of the setting. I wanted to do hard sci-fi—or at least use plausible science in the game. Ambitiously, Dan and I discussed a near future in the tradition of cyberpunk, where we could also address some of the current issues of our time such as the marginalization of the labor force and rising wealth inequality. I wanted to tackle some real, serious topics in the game in a way that I’d never attempted before.

"At the idea’s core were two competing corporations, both peddling a different form of artificial labor. On the one hand was Jinteki, a genetics company in the Eastern tradition selling cloned workers. Their logo was a bonsai, a tiny tree that’s had its growth purposefully stunted for aesthetic reasons via careful pruning. That bit of quiet symbolism still pleases me today. On the other hand, Haas-Bioroid was a stolidly Western corporation, manufacturing robotic workers and keeping an eye firmly on the bottom line. They were cold steel and numbers as a foil to Jinteki’s deep traditions and artistic perfectionism.

"Caught between these two behemoths were the displaced workers. An angry, powerless mob of ordinary people forced out of their jobs by a series of technological breakthroughs. They had formed a group called Human First and used sledgehammers to attack the androids, both because the robotic workers were extremely durable, and because I wanted to create parallels to the tale of John Henry and the steam engine. The story of the man who would rather die than let a machine replace him is one of my long-time favorites, and if you look, you’ll see that we ultimately named a line of mining clones in the setting after him. One of the murder suspects in the original board game, Mark Henry, is from that line of clones.

"These three groups and the friction between them were the seed that everything else ultimately sprang from."

Infinite Frontiers

The world has changed. Humanity has settled distant planets. We have shared the spark of life with clones and machines. Our horizon stretches outward into the distant reaches of the solar system and inward to the virtual worlds where we engage in business, pleasure, and criminal endeavors.

There is no longer a single world that serves as the center of the Android universe, there is no singular definition of what is human, and no single voice can possibly represent its future. The Worlds of Android therefore provides plentiful perspectives, documents, conversations, images, and stories to convey the tremendous, numberless variety of future experiences.

These stories, the questions they raise, and the information they provide about the not-too-distant future will naturally appeal to fans of Android: Netrunner and the Android board game, but they should also be of interest to anyone who has ever asked himself or herself where our advances in technology may lead us, and what our futures may hold. Explore these questions, and explore the future’s infinite frontiers with The Worlds of Android.

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