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Hive City

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May or may not be a Wretched Hive.

A Hive City is a Mega City, but where most mega cities look pretty much like our modern cities although spread over a larger area or with way more tall buildings, a Hive City is not built up of individual buildings but is in fact one gigantic building. More akin to an anthill or a hive than to a modern day city. Some hive cities started out as regular mega cities or skyscraper cities but then built generation after generation of buildings on top of each other until they all interlinked into one. Another case is that the city is built in a poisonous environment or vacuum and thus must be a closed environment. Or the people who built it simply had a very different mindset than humanity when it comes to housing.

Sub-Trope of Mega City.




  • In the final book of the Tawny Man Triology in Robin Hobb's Realm of the Elderlings, the elderlings' city on Aslevjal appears to be this, but it is hardly surprising considering that the elderlings appear to have a beehive like structure of their society with a single queen and many male drones. It's notable however that the city that Fitz visits in the mountains is not this, despite being said to be a city of the Elderlings.
  • The Hives of the Hive Mind (2016) series are of the deliberately-constructed kind. Hive England holds 100 million people in 10 zones, with 100 residential levels and 50 industrial levels above that. There are one hundred and seven Hives in all; it is unclear whether Hive England is relatively large, small, or in-between.

Tabletop Games:

  • The trope namers are the Hive cities in Warhammer 40,000. These enormous cities cover large areas like anthills, and the lower parts are so broken down and toxic that they aren't safe for human inhabitance any longer (mutants, outcasts and giant spiders like it just fine). And most inhabitants of a hive city never see the light of day. Only the nobles in their spires have that luxury.
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  • The Hivers of Traveller were so named by human explorers who compared their cities to insect hives. It was suggested that they had a Hive Mind, but this was later retconned.
  • Kowloon Walled City (see the Real Life section) still exists in the Shadowrun timeline (after the real one was torn down, the Shadowrun one was retconned as having been rebuilt to host refugees from a Chinese civil war). Thanks to the advent of magic, the place is even worse than its real-life version, with stagnant qi causing its residents collective despair to pool and attracting the Yama Kings to feast on all the bad vibes.

Video Games:

  • The citadel in Mass Effect can be considered this, although correctly speaking it's a space station rather than a building. Note that each of the ward arms is in their own right a skyscraper city, so massive is this station.

Real Life:

  • Most proposed human settlement on the Moon or Mars is this,though in much smaller scale.
  • The largest examples of an Arcology are effectively hives, with the additional requirement of the whole structure be at least energy neutral if not entirely self-sufficient.
  • Kowloon walled city was a former military outpost outside Hong Kong that became a lawless enclave due to it belonging to China but being surrounded by British territory. It became so densely populated with people escaping the law, refugees, and anarchists that it seriously approached this trope featuring high rises fused together and numerous alleyways completely covered by buildings. Before it was finally knocked down in preparation for the return of Hong Kong to Chinanote , it looked to be one monolithic shoddily built building.
  • Old London Bridge makes this trope Older Than Steam. For over five hundred years the bridge had buildings built on it. Much like the Kowloon walled city, the structure looked like two gigantic fused buildings, with a small break in the middle for the draw bridge. At one point there were well over five hundred buildings recorded there. It had a less than favorable impact on the bridge's utility as, well, a bridge and the structures were demolished along with that incarnation of the bridge some decades later.


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