Guastavino, NYC 9 years ago Famed for its opulence and grandeur even before they had colonised the solar system, Guastavino persevered well into the space age. It mixed centuries of tradition with modern technology to the best effect – light shows and stunning holo-displays spanning the vaulted ceilings of the vast venue, dotting the glazed tile with stars that had long drowned in light pollution. The hall opened up to receive the first gaggle of guests at seven o’clock sharp. The colonnades either side of the atrium bathed in diffused reflections of the decorative pool at the centre. Fish streaked to and fro in the colorful water, scales glittering like the coins people would throw into fountains for well-wishes, long ago. Quiet chatter soon echoed through the spacious chambers of the venue as celebrities trickled in, fashionably late. The flash of camera drones only followed them to the doorstep – there they posed with their plastic smiles, delivered their quotes, and were off to blow egregious sums of money to win the ephemeral favor of the masses. The first few hours of the event were to be devoted to mingling, where the political could rub shoulders with the corporate elite – and good luck to anyone trying to tell the difference. If they had time to spare between exterminating the canapés and comparing designer dresses, the guests could always slip away to donate some of their hard-earned dollars. Nevermind that most of them didn’t even know who the victims were – the survivors of a catastrophic environmental fallout somewhere in the Caspian region, for those interested – all that mattered was getting your picture taken going in. It was a charity gala, after all.