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Discontinuity, located roughly in the economic center of Straylight, is alternately called either the Shining Bright Gem of Straylight or the Huge Wet Hog of Straylight. Certainly the quarter million people living there need a lot of space to live in. Discontinuity is entirely a human creation, built on top of thousands on tons of floating ferrocement, protected by an artificial breakwave that can withstand storms stronger than ever recorded in the history of Micras, fed and powered by a massive OTEC plant commonly called the Sampo. Perhaps the most appropriate nickname for Discontinuity is the city that's proud of its own existence - though this might just be because Discontinuitians often call other sancts "toy cities".

Aside its size, Discontinuity could be considered one of the more "normal" sancts, at least to an outsider. Since platform area on Discontinuity is much cheaper to expand here than elsewhere in Straylight, Discontinuity is slighly more spacious than other sancts (not much, however - all those people do need somewhere to live). Its government is relatively large compared to most sancts', and taxes are high by Straylightian standards. The government is also somewhat ad-hoc and inconsistent in its enforcement of public order, but does enough of a decent job that most people are happy with it. They do manage to ensure the welfare of most citizens and maintain a steady flow of tourism.

However, if you actually get on top of a tall building (the POEL, or Peak of Eternal Light, which is a very fancy name the Straylightians like to use for the communication towers that ofter are the tallest point of a sanct), it's easy to see that the city does not have anything like the structure of a usual city on land. For one, there are no cars or wide roads. Heavy transport in Discontinuity is generally handled down in the flotation layer (where there's plenty of space, though transportation is slow due to the safety requirements - opening and closing doors between flotation compartments is slow, and having a chain of several flotation compartments open at a time is disallowed), whereas personal transport is usually done on foot or bicycle. The winding alleys and many small plazas everywhere around the city give it an almost medieval look from the air.


Sampo is the name of the OTEC plant that's the basis of, by some approximations, over half of Discontinuity's economy (and certainly the only reason why the entire sanct runs in the first place). It provides an amount of electricity that is... currently up for recalculation, along with fresh water created as a byproduct (giving Discontinuity yet another nickname - the sanct where the toilets flush with fresh water - since it's the only place in Straylight where it is more economical to just build one water distribution network and pump fresh water through it than to have one for fresh water and one for salt water as in most sancts).

The basic process of the OTEC plant is simple: In the tropical waters that Discontinuity's anchored to, down at the bottom of the sea (actually only about one kilometer down in this case) the water's a lot cooler than on the surface. You've got a heat differential, so what do you do? You run a heat engine on it! The way an OTEC plant does this is by pumping the cold water up from the deep and either using a closed process (where a suitable working fluid is vaporised to run turbines with the warm surface water, then condensed back into fluid with the cold water) or an open process (where the warm surface water itself is vaporised in low-pressure chambers). Both methods are used in the Sampo, as the closed method is much more efficient for power generation while the open method is much more efficient for making fresh water.

The name of the Sampo comes, of course, from the Kalevala (the most important work of Finnish mythology), where it is a device that churns out endless amounts of flour, salt, and gold. The name is extremely appropriate. Discontinuity's Sampo directly churns out power, water and air conditioning... and that's only the beginning of it. Entire industries are run on metals (quite significantly aluminium, copper and zinc) separated from the seawater passing through the OTEC plant. The deep-sea water coming in from the north is rich in nutrients, and as it is expelled from the OTEC plant it feeds enormous amounts of algae around the city, causing a phenomenon known as the Green Sea - a blanket of seaweed (and seaweed farms) extending almost a kilometer in each direction from the city. Hydrogen generated by electrolysis is shipped off around the world. In short, the Sampo makes Discontinuity an economic paradise.

Of course, running a plant like that has some interesting consequences. The most basic piece of trivia about Discontinuity that everyone in Shireroth is expected to know is the mist. Usually in Ifnin and approximately the time between mid-Breizan and mid-Anandjan, due to the patterns of the prevailing winds, Discontinuity literally finds itself in the doldrums. Now the Sampo pumps up large quantities of cold water, which is used both for running heat engines and providing air conditioning; There's easily a ten degree temperature difference between the air in the city and the air outside. Since the humidity of the ocean air in bright sunlight is already 100%, and the OTEC plant significantly refrigerates it, the end result is that Discontinuity gets very wet and misty. People generally handle this by not going outdoors much during those times, figuring out various ways to keep surfaces clean and avoid letting them become slippery and slimy, and occasionally by committing suicide (the city can be surprisingly gloomy in the mist).