Freethought Hubs

"We never expected it to last," says Tasha Gruen, a lithe brunette with a pattern of phosphorescent tattoos accenting her otherwise unadorned upper body. "We just wanted to try out new things, and when Nathan dangled the opportunity, we went for it." High level nudity and not-quite-double entendres are typical elements of Freethinker conversation, I've come to notice.

Nathan Xero gives a larger-than-life boom of a laugh that somehow befits his unofficial title of the Sex King of Eternalist culture. A software billionaire since the release of the lifeblogging phenomena Artifice in 2045, Xero laughs off suggestions that he is a cultural revolutionary. "I did what any good business entrepreneur does - turned a very human hunger into a market."

He understates the significant social impacts of his yin and yang enclaves of sexual exploration, Jameson's Hole and Verisimilitude, which have not only attracted an estimated 7 million adventurers, perverts, tourists and protestors over the past eighteen years, but have grown into fully-functional and apparently self-perpetuating micronations in their own right. Whether the extraordinary demographic makeup of these states - the permanent population comprising more than 80% females in the case of the former and over 70% in the 40-65 age bracket for the latter - will prove stable in the long term remains an open question.

- excerpt from Portrait of the New Royalty, first published in The Guardian, 15 March 2068

- Caleb Wentner

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