Overpopulation, cramped quarters, people stacked on top of each other with only thin walls separating them. The modern Megalopolis is a living archeological dig. At the highest strata you have those who can afford to live above their fellow man, enshrined with every pleasure and convenience of a king. Dig a bit further and you find the offices, factories and massive hydroponics farms that sustain the Megalopolis. Below that, you have more apartments but not like those above these are tiny by comparison. This is where the average man has been abandoned. Down below the run off of the industrial plans, out of sight of those with real power, this is where you will find the homes of the millions required to sustain the lifestyles of the few. How though you might ask.
Simply put governments lost control. Major corporations rival, even exceed the power of small nations, not that many remain. The Great War saw both the vast consolidation of world power and a global collapse of infrastructure. The super powers of the world are a shadow of their former selves.
During the Dark Age after the war technological infrastructure was consolidated into modern super-cities. Population exploded and the basic support networks such as public education, medicine and security collapsed. Almost universally the average citizen has a limited or no formal education. The middle class is now all but extinct. Not that most people know what the term means. Unions are a thing of the past along with most labor and employment laws. Workers routinely endure twelve hour days or worse simply to justify their jobs. The modern city is not a place you want to be unemployed in.
With massive population densities the Megalopolis is a breeding ground for crime, drug abuse and gang warfare. On the streets running with a gang isn’t about power, or respect, it’s about survival. Every other block you’re on another clique’s turf and if they don’t know you, well that’s too bad. Like everything else, these smaller gangs filter up to the crime families who seem to engineer conflict with each other if only to test member’s loyalty.
It’s not all bad though. Assuming you’re willing to work half a day or more there are unprecedented levels of access to basic luxuries. Homes and apartments include huge entertainment centers with hundreds of television stations and music channels along with internet access. Long distance travel is relatively inexpensive and for those who can afford it, suborbital intercontinental flights take only a few hours. That is, if you can afford it.
For the rich, the modern landscape is a shark’s paradise. If you have the background for an executive level job the sky’s the limits. Personal bodyguards and an armored limo are just the start. A week at the Qi-Mathews Space Station over Bolivia to ink a multinational deal then it’s off to the Bale Grand Lunar Colony for the celebration. As long as you’re on top why not enjoy it? Just remember if that deal doesn’t go though the company will liquidate your assets terminate the lease on your suite at the TK Arcology and let you figure out how to pay for that ticket back to London. Assuming you even have the courage to face your family again.
Wealthy or penniless, the safety nets of the twentieth century are long forgotten. The police still serve and protect those that can pay for their protection. Otherwise, you’re on your own. Try to make the best of it.