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The year is 2034. Over the last three decades the world has changed immensely, and many things feared the most have come true: a new ice age, the rise and collapse of China, genetic engineering of humans, the breakdown of the national state and the rise of a new global culture. The apocalypse has come and gone, and life still goes on.

Three things have dominated history between 2000 and 2034. The first is the fall of the national states. As the economy became global and net-based, the traditional national states did not succeed in adapting to it. Money and investments moved beyond their reach, becoming a fluid international market that bowed to nobody and did not allow itself to be controlled. The choice was to adapt or to turn away from the rest of the world into self-imposed poverty. Instead of national states the world has become a patchwork of regions vying for investments from the Net-based economy. The world is divided between the internationalists living in the dynamic networked global system and the people stuck in the remains of the old, unable or unwilling to move on.

The second factor is the end of the interglacial. With surprising speed a new ice age has begun, lowering global temperatures and changing the climate. Northerly areas have become uninhabitable, causing people to emigrate southward. Rainfall patterns and temperatures have changed, making previously barren lands fertile.

The third factor has been the accelerating technological revolution. Information technology was just the beginning. Biotechnology has become just as pervasive as the computer, from artificial islands and living materials in the house over programmable bacteria to genetic modifications of plants, animals and humans. Modern technology is partially built, partially grown.

The world of 2034 is in some ways a safe, prosperous place. More people live long, healthy lives in relative prosperity and freedom across the world than at any time before. But at the same time the division between the dynamic internationalists and the resentful nationalists is growing. The nationalists feel cheated by the internationalists who gained power by right of their flexibility, nothing else. The internationalists cannot understand why the nationalists do not become like them. Terrorism is growing as the rift is widening.