The Onion reports that with the rapid melting of the Arctic ice cap and permafrost, many secret lairs once hidden have been exposed.
“Last week a giant ice sheet broke off and split my prized underground complex nearly in half,” said Dr. Raygun, a self-described psychotic mastermind best known for his diabolical thought-control experiments. “Now millions of dollars in state-of-the-art doomsday devices are gone—all because of the environmental carnage wrought by the human race.”
“You spend your whole career concocting a brilliant scheme to wipe out all of mankind, and what happens?” Dr. Raygun continued. “They bring about a major global catastrophe completely on their own, those fools!”
So, once again, your fool-proof plans for world domination have been thwarted by fools. Gallingly, the fools didn’t have to bumble into your self-destruct button, or meddle in your schemes. They just had to sit in their oversized SUVs and do nothing more taxing than driving to the local gas station to get a gallon of soda refill.
GAH! What to do?!?
Well, we here at Stately Beat Manor (a repurposed lair, located in the Upper Hudson Valley, protected by white-headed capuchins, so don’t get any ideas) understand your frustration, and offer the following advice to all who engage in socially-unacceptable behaviours.
It takes a lot of hard work and a long time before you can become an overnight sensation during a news cycle. Like most dreams, that of world domination usually manifests itself in adolescence, due to the systematic persecution of anyone considered non-conformist. Most nerds, brainiacs, weirdos, and metalheads find escape in literature in the short-term, and out-of-state universities in the long-term. But, just like their less-maladjusted schoolmates, the future “world leaders” share the same limitations: curfews, homework, and lack of privacy. Bedrooms, basements, tree houses, and even public libraries serve as proto-lairs for the ambitious.
So, you’ve learned HTML, CSS, and how to mine Bitcoins. You’ve set up a nice revenue stream, gotten a few online accolades, and you’re ready to show them! YOU’LL SHOW THEM ALL!!! But first, you’ll need a base of operations. A secret lair where you can work, hidden from the critical gaze of scientists slavishly in thrall to the “scientific method” and “research ethics”, and government inspections on workplace safety.
So what are your options? Well, there are many. Let’s analyze the more popular options:
This is more common and popular than you might realize. While many corporations use shell companies to hide profits and malfeasance, quite a few Free Thinkers use an actual corporation as a “secret identity” to cover the real purpose. (And… the corporation can be used to monetize your discoveries. Just look at Steve Jobs!)
This offers many advantages:
- No need to house minions, technicians, support staff, and other syncophants. If properly sited, your corporate lair will have excellent access to transportation alternatives.
- Local universities provide a never-ending source of interns and minions seeking to better the world with their idealism and passion. Your corporation can also fund research projects at institutions of higher learning, outsourcing some of the research normally performed in your lab, at half the cost.
- Corporate costs can be amortized as a business expense. With tax incentives, government grants, and friendly politicians, you will be able to make a profit just by incorporating!
- Decentralization. Your corporate headquarters may house your leadership team, but your industrial facilities can be spread worldwide, reducing risk, and creating additional lairs which you can either use to thwart goody-two-shoes as decoys, or rent to others bent on world domination (while maintaining a close eye on their activities). Performing genetic engineering on organisms? No one will bat an eye if it’s conveniently covered by a slaughterhouse.
As the above article states, this type of hideout is becoming less attractive. What was once minor upkeep becomes an expensive line item as industrial cooling systems must be installed and maintained. With a shrinkage in ice cover, any anomaly will stick out, reducing the inherent camouflage originally desired.
There are a few options available for those who prefer the frozen isolation of the polar regions.
The most attractive locale is Antarctica. Vast, sparsely populated, yet stable, it offers a perfect site for a hidden lair. The continent is covered in a massive ice sheet, with an average thickness of 1.9 kilometers. If properly sited, an underground “deep freeze” lair could remain in operation for decades. Care must be taken to account for ice streams, which are fast moving sections of glacier, so that the lair is not exposed due to rapidly calving icebergs.
Other charming regions are:
- Iceland. Low populace (325K), much of country is inaccessible during the winter, abundant geothermal energy sources, easy commute to North America or Europe.
- Russia. Much of the interior is sparsely populated, and inhospitable. The current regime is amenable to economic development. With the collapse of the Soviet Union 25 years ago, many research sites and scientists are available as government surplus.
- Northern North America. Both Canada and Alaska offer vast tracts of land with the nearest neighbor located at the next airstrip. Care must be take during construction, as climate change will affect the permafrost, and what was once frozen can turn slushy.
The Next Hot Spot
Volcanoes are a prime location, although highly coveted. Usually remote in location and inaccessible, they provide a surplus of geothermal heat. Those near city centers (Vesuvius, Loa, Ranier, Etna) offer convenience for you and your minions, as well as a Plan Z self-destruct option should Plan A be SNAFU’d. If you can’t Take Over The World, why not destroy the local Sodom with hellfire as you make your escape?
They are located in a variety of climes to suit almost anyone!
Many despots on a budget will opt for the mountain hideaway instead, and trade up.
Tropical islands are another possibility. Many are remote and uninhabited. Most are volcanic in origin, and thus offer suitable subterfuge from tourists, naturists, and naturalists. Sometimes, your base can be disguised as a research station, especially if the island is part of a nature refuge. Avoid islands with a low topography…rising sea levels from climate change will eventually cause you to relocate. If budgets allow, you might use these smaller islands as remote bases, and centralize operations through a “research vessel” (registered via a dummy non-profit organization).
One can also go the “corporate” route, using oil platforms in lieu of islands.
In mysterious fathoms below
The ultimate terrestrial hideout? Oceanic. Remote. Unlikely to be discovered by accident. International waters reduce liability and enforcement. Possibility of subterranean construction beneath the ocean floor. Possible geothermal vents offer an alternate power source.
Of course, you’ll want to construct your base below the limits of submarines and divers. Atmospheric diving suits have a limit of 700 meters (and are very difficult to maneuver), as do most submarines. Generally, one kilometer will be sufficient. That would present a water pressure of about 100 atm/bar, or 10 MPa, or 100 times normal air pressure. Not an extreme for construction, but difficult for submersibles.
Given the difficulty of water transport, you should consider building on the insular shelf of an island, and plan egress through the bedrock, perhaps via a “research station” with an airstrip and research vessel.
Take your protein pills and put your helmet on
Of course, you don’t have to stay on Earth. Low Earth Orbit offers plenty of potential, as does the Moon. (The mineral rights alone are worth the start-up costs. If Terrans balk, lob a few rocks into the middle of the Sahara and see if they’ll “negotiate”.) If more ambitious, the Lagrange points offer a nice stable parking lot in front and behind Earth’s orbit. And then there’s Mars, the satellites of Jupiter and Saturn, Ceres…
We hope that this has been helpful. Have you relocated recently? Any tips to share?
I’ve been writing for The Beat since July of 2010.
I’ve been reading comics since 1974, collecting since 1984, and spreading the graphic novel gospel since 1994.
I’m a bookseller, a librarian, an amateur scholar, a cool uncle, and a comics evangelist.
Ask me anything!