I've been trying to rewrite a novel I wrote in high school, but this time actually have it make (some) sense.
Basically there's a decently sized company in the novel that takes over a private/secret city in the clouds.

How do I make this at least somewhat realistic when the city does have a police force and a council that is competent?

How do I show the company is transforming the city's government, lifestyle, etc.

I don't want the citizens to be treated very well.
The company's main goal is to make the city a tourist attraction because it's hidden in the sky and all of the citizens have given themselves wings.
The company itself focuses on exploration and discovering artifacts.


  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I do not understand why the goal (tourism) requires nefarious control of the city. Also, I also don't understand how you could have a "secret" city - if exchange of knowledge and resources with other places is impossible, then the utility of having a city in that society at all is greatly reduced (though not eliminated). Finally, where does the city get it's food and water and materials? Where does it dump it's trash and sewage? And won't all those groundhogs know about the city? $\endgroup$
    – user535733
    Commented Oct 6, 2019 at 0:19
  • $\begingroup$ Possible duplicate of How could a private corporation take over the British government $\endgroup$
    – JBH
    Commented Oct 6, 2019 at 0:45
  • $\begingroup$ If you don't think the indicated duplicate is a duplicate, consider this, this, this, this and probably others. Searching this site before asking your question is very valuable. $\endgroup$
    – JBH
    Commented Oct 6, 2019 at 0:49
  • $\begingroup$ How to get a secret city has to be answered first, keeping a city secret is incredibly difficult, keeping a city that would show up on weather radar secret is impossible. You also need to define "taking over" are they taking over by general force, creating a coup, getting elected? $\endgroup$
    – John
    Commented Oct 6, 2019 at 4:07
  • $\begingroup$ The city does not want to be discovered and does not want to be a tourist attraction. I always pictured the "taking over" being by general force/a coup $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 6, 2019 at 4:54

2 Answers 2


Here are a few ways that I can think of :

  • Buy Controlling Interest in Critical Supplies or Services
    • Examples : food, helium, rare earths; if your company can become the largest provider of goods (and especially if your company provides those goods at a loss, so that there are few alternatives to using you) you have some leverage.
    • Service Examples : negotiating right-of-passage with countries whose airspace the city flies over, being the "ferryman" to-and-from the surface, being the gatekeeper of information (mail, news, internet, radio, or other communication)
  • Buy Controlling Interest in the Entity that Operates the City
    • There may be a dominant industry in which the citizens participate. Could be a monastery, grand council, or a company.
    • Your company could gain a foothold in this industry by :
      • Purchasing stock,
      • Issuing loans,
      • Grants
    • Whatever the mechanism, your company will gain in exchange an increasing number of voting representatives to this decision-making body that your company may select.
    • Having representatives in the government also allows your company advance knowledge of crises, scandals, weaknesses, and worries. Your company can exploit this insider knowledge to create new problems -- which the company would happily fix in exchange for more representation, or fewer constraints on their ability to operate.
  • Buy Controlling Instance in the Entity that Owns the City
    • If the ownership of the City is recognized and protected by any government, being able to own (or leverage) the owner of the city would allow your company to pressure changes to the operation of that city.
    • Your company might be able to do this financially (as outlined in buying controlling interest in the City Operator), or by legal action in whatever legal body the City is recognized.
      • Examples of Legal Action :
        • Claiming the City as part of some inheritance
        • Claiming the rights of some co-founder of the City as co-owner
        • Claiming the City as payment from the Owner for some tort, criminal behavior, unpaid taxes, or similar
        • Some law that calls a floating city abandoned property
  • Corrupting Officials
    • Your company might bribe some key people (shipping on-and-off the City, power, maintenance, police, computing), or Influencers (people who most of the citizens naturally follow, regardless of the on-paper power structure)
    • From this perspective, your company can exploit legitimate (but solvable) problems to create a popular uprising. See cultural warfare, below.
  • Cultural warfare
    • The formula is tried-and-true : have your influencers remind citizen constantly about the Problem(s), blame every other problem on the problems, build up the citizens' sense of injustice to the point the citizens start committing injustices themselves, spread rumors of armed rebellion in the "right" social circles (the governments) - encouraging the government to overreact and create more injustice. Repeat until revolution, or detected. If detected, burn a scapegoat and continue with a new one.
      • Example : "There's not enough potable (drinkable) water to go around. This problem is one the City can't fix -- there's only so much weight the floating City can carry, and it only feeds so many citizens. Well, not enough drinking water is why Matt passed out at work yesterday. I heard it in the bar. And the Council, they don't do anything about it. You know, it looks like those Council folks have never missed a bath. Maybe, if they're not going to do anything about it, we should..."
      • When revolution happens, as the influencer of the Influencers, your company gets to move in and take charge.
    • Alternatively, you can saturate the City with your message. It's baked into every paper they pick up, every book they read, every movie they watch, every song they listen to. Gobbels used this with great effect to turn a mugging in Paris into Kristalnacht. This technique was also used by Austria to provoke an initially indifferent public into initiating World War 1.

Well I don't think tourist city could be considered as secret, which is defeats its purpose of being secret.

In order to make your city to be controlled by single corporation there should be several conditions, like being isolated and have only single function, for example, mining or new weapons development and testing.

I think there is one city that can be example, which is literally being controlled by one corporation.

Meet Norilsk:


This city is located on isolated area of Krasnoyarsk and built by power of GULAG prisoners.

There are no roads that connects this city with others. You need to fly by plane then get on train on special airport to reach this city.

This city has only single purpose, to mine nickel, copper and palladium ore.

Because of it's geographical location and single purpose, this city is literally controlled by single corporation called Nornickel:


There are a lot of stories of how facilities of this corporation is affecting peoples health and damaging ecology.

This corporation didn't need to "take over", it just appeared. After Soviet Union collapsed, all assets of this city converted into single private corporation.


You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .