Like a lot of writers, I tend to compose bits and pieces when doing something else that allows me to multi-task. Top on the list is to compose while I’m taking a bath. Archimedes is said to have solved a physics problem while taking a bath. While at a public bath, Rumiko Takahashi received the inspiration for Ranma 1/2, a comic series that would make her the first woman to earn over a million dollars in the comic industry. Today, I was working on a dialog that takes place in New Hope’s space port between Pearl and a very wealthy woman while enjoying a well-deserved post holiday soak in the tub. A question suddenly occurred to me: “how will people in the far future bathe on an arid planet?”
I pulled out my handy dandy books on world building and crafting science fiction. Nothing there. Through 5 television series and 12 movies, a sonic shower was shown once in an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation. Ok, time to go to the trusty RPG library of GURPS source books. There’s a GURPS source book for nearly everything. Hmmm… nothing in Space…. nada in Cyberpunk… ahhh! Let’s try Ultratech… zero-gee thrusters… holographic heads-up display… sonic shuriken… implosion bomb… tachyonic disrupter… ectasy weapons? There are paragraphs on how automated houses will clean themselves and have entire walls or rooms devoted to holographic entertainment. One sentence on a sonic shower head.
Water is not strictly rationed on New Hope. It’s just expensive to use extra water. If a person takes a 3 to 5 minute shower, the water rates are tolerable. However, the more you use, the more you pay… a lot more. Bathtubs, bidets, hot tubs, swimming pools, garden ponds, are all luxuries in New Hope City. All vessels of standing water must be indoors or covered when not in use. Businesses that use water in producing goods must have systems in place to reclaim 82% of the water used. Willfully wasting water, such as opening a fire hydrant or over watering a lawn, carries the same fines & jail time as a class A misdemeanor, almost a felony.
Building codes call for showers in all residences and apartments. Many residences also have the sonic shower head installed next to the shower. Some citizens will use the sonic shower to loosen up and remove grime and then a short regular shower for a soothing rinse. In many low income homes, use of a basin and sponge bathing satisfies daily needs. Bathtubs are found in the homes of the upper middle classes, the wealthy, and upscale hotels.
There are public baths in New Hope City, many are located in fitness centers and casino/hotel spas. And true to bathing customs throughout time and the known galaxies, the men’s baths are always dirtier than the women’s. No, it isn’t because men are slobs and women aren’t. The anatomy, physiology, and psychology of the female gender makes bathing more desirable and important. It is a fact that women use more spa services, purchase more bath products, and bathe more often than men. With women being the big spenders on bathing, the owners of public baths and spas spend more time cleaning the women’s side than they do the men’s side of the bath.
You can even fit a bath into a Chillin’ Encounter:
Gus was relaxing in the gym’s sunken hot tub after his work out. The massage jets worked wonders on his low back, particularly on the scar tissue above the right hip. The door behind him slid open and he heard the unmistakable sound of high heels clicking on the tiled floor.
“Mind if I join you?” inquired a sultry voice.
“Sure, lady,” responded Gus, “but, I warn you, I’m not wearing anything.”
The footsteps continued to click to the edge of the hot tub. “That’s Ok,” said the voice “neither am I.” He heard her slip out of the shoes, and as he turned his head, he saw a white robe flutter to the floor. He watched in amazement as a pair of beautifully sculpted legs stepped down into the hot tub followed by curvaceous hips. She sat on the seat next to him. His eyes were transfixed on perfect breasts buoyed in the bubbling water. “Like what you see?” she asked.
Gus felt a little embarrassed that he had not been able to raise his gaze to her face. When he looked into her face, he saw a smile which conveyed more than with words she was pleased her sexuality had reduced him to putty. She had dark brown hair stylishly piled on top of her head and seductive green eyes. Gus also noticed a towel on the floor behind her with an interesting bulge. “Sorry, for staring.” said Gus. “But, yes, I do like what I see.”
She giggled and splashed water toward Gus. She leaned back in her seat, closed her eyes, and said “Oh, this water feels divine.” Gus took the opportunity to lift the corner of the towel and discovered a small calibre pistol. The lady was not as naked as she appeared.
Hey, it beats the usual employer recruits adventurer in tavern intro!
Bottom line, water is a scarce resource on New Hope. It isn’t as scarce as on a desert planet such as in Frank Herbert’s Dune, but lack of a large reliable, renewable water supply is a big reason there is no heavy industry on New Hope. That is both good and bad. You have to remember that New Hope started off as a place where smugglers could store things until they found markets that could fence their goods. People actually living on the planet was an afterthought. However, once people do live somewhere, they want to be clean from time to time.