Tharsis Landing



Tharsis Landing (Tasijin, 塔寺津) is the oldest and most populous city-state of Mars. On the surface it appears to be a few shielded dwellings in clusters often tens of kilometres apart, but beneath that lies the majority of the city itself, threaded through a series of long, thin lava tubes under Tharsis Plateau and Arsia Mons. Tharsis and Hangzhou Orbital are together the economic heart of the Inner System.

  • Government: Socialist republic
  • Head of state: Administrator Lao Deng
  • Sovereignty: De jure Xinhua, de facto independent.
  • Location: Tharsis plateau, Mars
  • Established: 2029
  • Major ports: Port Yangshan (Yangshan Gang, 洋山港)
  • Industries: Telecommunications, consumer electronics, pharmaceuticals, entertainment
  • Currency: XNY
  • Population estimate: 12,000,000
  • Languages: Mandarin, English
  • Religions: Buddhism, Christianity


Tharsis Landing was incorporated in 2029 at the completion of the first major construction milestone of the Xiafan Guanjun fleet, which was led by Kung Yin. Eighteen months prior, Tharsis was a dig site, its population living in prefabbed bubbles on the surface while working to expand the subterranean lava tube network. The bulkheads of the first pressurised tunnel were erected in 2029 in what is now Xinhua Square. Administrator Kung died in 2030 from the effects of overwork and prolonged radiation exposure, and many parts of Tharsis were named to honour his memory.

Tharsis expanded rapidly throughout the next decade, but even so development often did not keep up with immigration. To combat the problem of unlawful immigration and homelessness, Tharsis established the Noctis Regional Processing Facility in 2033. Public opinion supported the decision even after the Offworld Newsgroup uncovered evidence of the harsh living conditions and brutal treatment of immigrants. Groups like Citizens For Tharsis’ Survival congregated in Tharsis streets with slogans like 来得好!不然离开通过气闸!, (láidé hǎo! bùrán líkāi tōngguò qì zhá!, “come properly! or leave through the airlock!”). The historic animosity between Tharsis and Labyrinth continues in the present day.

Tharsis’ economic power increased dramatically with the completion of the space elevator at Arsia Mons in 2042. Tharsis’ population, industrial output, relative living standards, and freedom of movement on- and offworld made it attractive to business. Many inner city lines underwent gentrification as businesses moved in, bringing an influx of wealthy immigrants and displacing citizens into new ghettoes.

In 2079 Tharsis celebrates its 50th year with a Golden Week (黄金周) of national holidays.

Infrastructure and Development

Tharsis runs through a network of lava tubes which generations of Martian colonists have extended, sealed, pressurised, and made habitable. Enormous bulkheads stand at kilometre intervals in order to preserve the rest of the city should any one section become exposed to the thin Martian atmosphere. Skylights, large holes in the roof of the lava tubes, are covered with hardened plastic windows. Originally planned by the Chinese government, long stretches of the tunnels are reminiscent of the Soviet block housing common to modern China. Identical rows of prefabbed tenement houses made of basalt fiber, sulfur concrete, and glass (three of the most accessible building materials on Mars) are interspersed with public squares and metro stations.

Many central suburbs (or ‘lines’) were remade by private money as Tharsis grew in importance, tenements torn down and replaced by single-level siheyuan, traditional courtyard residences, and hutongs, long grids of alleys formed between the courtyards. Though the city has expanded horizontally rather than vertically, spaces for large buildings akin to skyscrapers (‘subscrapers’) have been dug into the cavern floor.

The Tharsis Metro, a mass transit system, links the lava tubes. Air travel is possible but reserved for drone cargo and emergency services, and is restricted from some lines because of unregulated and undocumented services like power lines, irrigation, and illegal adits or surface vents. The easiest and cheapest way to get around is the Metro, or by shared bicycle. Human guides run pedicabs, making a living from knowing the places not listed on official maps.


Organised Crime

It is an open secret that the Snakeheads, originally an international human smuggling operation, control the Tharsis underworld. The earliest criminal presence in the city, it used its lack of opposition to begin running other conventional criminal activities like counterfeiting and drug trafficking alongside its original vocation. An attempt by the Triads of Old Earth to take control of the city in the 50s, the ‘Dragon Invasion’, brought the underworld’s struggle into open warfare. Members of both groups were publicly assassinated in daylight street warfare, including the Sarah Ma Lin teahouse shooting and the Zhuangzi Building siege.

Tharsis Suburbs

Suburbs of Tharsis include, but are not limited to:

  • Nanxian: central district
  • Heifei: central commercial district, noted for syndicate violence
  • Xinzhen: outer line, ghettoised by refugee overcrowding and prone to bad air
  • Zhoukou: outer line, one of many excavation development sites