What's the crime rate like in places like Vancouver or Kyoto? And how many cases end up unsolved per year?
The crime rate in Vancouver is far lower than that of Kyoto. There are about 1.5 homicides for every 100,000 in the population. Lesser crimes are a little more common, but the majority of what is considered 'physical' crime (a crime committed solely against a person's physical self or their physical property) are smaller crimes, such as shoplifting or minor assault.
Kyoto has a higher homicide rate - about 2.2 for every 100,000 people. This is due to the larger settling of street gangs within the territory and the greater spread of nationalist groups from defunct Asian countries. The same trend is represented in violent crime rates in general. Most cases are solved fairly quickly within both territories when the suspect worked independently, and if the perpetrator is a citizen with an installed chip unless they go on the run they will be caught within a few days. In Kyoto, attacks made by nationalist groups don't always result in an arrest - the nature of these groups means that even if they are tied to a crime, it's almost impossible to find those individually responsible without the help of a chip.
Cybercrime is a harder issue for police and security forces to tackle. Most hacking rings (which can consist of four teenagers in a bedroom to a group of one hundred strong) aren't stupid enough to conduct any serious damage or high-scale crimes. They tend to stick to crashing websites and gathering information from corporations to sell to private brokers. In turn, corporations can hire more established hacking rings as tools of espionage. Due to the strict laws against corporations in both the UNA and the GAT, hacking rings contracted have developed tools and software to ensure their security. Hackers who work independently suffer from net overexposure and end up giving themselves away. They are quickly sourced and dealt with.
Also, do paper-based books still exist if almost everyone is constantly connected to the internet?
They still exist, but more as novelty items. Most 'big' releases will tend to have a limited paper release, while smaller ones will sometimes have expensive pre-order physical copies. The other exception is pieces of classic literature are normally disturbed by established, non-profit publishing houses.
What exactly was World War III? How and when did it start, who fought for what side, and who won? What did certain countries have as sanctions (such as the Treaty of Versailles or the Treaty of Paris), and what's the general attitude towards these?
Allow me to construct a brief timeline for this.
2031 - Under UN jurisdiction, Middle-Eastern countries secure aid in developing weaponry, under fears from the ever expanding People's Republic of China.
2034 - Unbeknownst to first-world nations, the Middle-East develops trading and military allegiance and assist in developing a nuclear arsenal for the region.
2036 - Footage captured by United States undercover agents of nuclear weapon construction and storage within the Middle-East. Rise in political tension with India.
2037 - Attempted political coup within India ends in civil war, with much of the country being separated into independent states. Some ally with the Middle-Eastern territory, others with China. UN attempts negotiations with Middle-East for disarming of nuclear weapons which fails.
2038 - American troops are deployed to the Middle-East and India in an attempt to contain the escalating situation. What was originally intended as peace-keeping ventures turn from firefight to full out war. Before the end of the year, a draft is called within the US and later Canada.
2039 - The United Kingdom and Japan send troops to assist the Americas early in the year. China begins secret nuclear program with North Korea whilst building funds between the countries.
2041 - Middle-Eastern territories and allied forces engaged in full-out war across the West of Asia. China and Korea push into South Korea and capture the territory in November of the year.
2042 - Before a reaction is decided on how to handle both the Middle-Eastern and Korean situation, China initiates tactical nuclear strikes throughout the Middle-East, decimating a huge chunk of American, Japanese and European forces, as well as turning the region uninhabitable. The west side of China takes damage, but it is considered a victory for the Chinese people. All allied troops that survive are pulled from the region. China makes a push through Asia, securing Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore before the end of the year.
2043 - Chinese and Korean forces begin invasion of Australia and set up several military facilities along the coast after winning brief battles with forces stationed there. Australian troops fall back to New Zealand and are supported by a small number of American forces. An initiative between allied leaders is leaked to be taking place in New York. After the leak, it is moved to Vancouver just days before New York is struck by precise Chinese bombing runs. None of the attack was nuclear, but the damage was considerable. After weeks of deliberation and Japanese forces struggling on the Asian continent to stop the march of the Chinese and Korean towards Japan, the extreme 'Fire with Fire' initiative is taken. Several more air attacks take place across the Western coast of the United States and Tokyo is destroyed in the last Chinese nuclear strike of the war. Nuclear payloads are developed with great speed and efficiency with an objective of crippling China right at the core. The Doomsday Clock is set to midnight.
President Truman spoke of the 'tragic significance' brought about by the atomic bombing of Japan in the second world war. Throughout this century, we have hoped that the world would never have to see another event of that magnitude. With tears and no grace, I must tell you all that we have not only been forced to once again reach that magnitude, but we must now breach it. Our country will not find honour in this responsibility. I can only hope a century from now, our children will understand. And that they, and their children, never see a day like this come to pass again.
President Lay Tenor, December 23rd, 2043
2044 - On New Year's Day, the first three strikes took place against the Chinese mainland. The day after, two more strikes. A final strike hit the capital of Beijing on the 3rd. Within weeks of the strikes, Chinese forces pulled out from the Asian continent. There was no more communication from the Chinese region for over a month as Korean and Chinese forces almost seemed to dissipate into the atmosphere. Eventually, communication is reached with the substantially damaged Chinese leaders. Later in the year, the Treaty of Asian Nations was drafted and signed by the Chinese. The Treaty was the only of the war, and disarmed the entire Chinese military force and nuclear program alongside spreading out the majority of Chinese land to countries that had their own land damaged in the war by the Chinese forces.
The Aftermath - As soon as the Treaty was complete, China became a significantly smaller isolated nation within the north of Asia. Contact in and out of the country is strictly forbidden, although Kyoto hackers have managed to uncover some basic information. The ability to connect from the NetSea proves there is at least a solid internet foundation. President Lay Tenor stepped down from office after the treaty had been signed, and spent the rest of his life assisting in rebuilding efforts and eventually being the force behind the unification of Canada and the United States in 2048.
All countries in the Far-East of Asia at least struggled after the war. Most had lost at least one city and while some were possible to rebuild on the charred ashes, others such as Tokyo were completely lost. The decision was made in 2046 to form the Greater Asian Territories to ensure progress and reform. Japan, Korea, Thailand and Indonesia all became states within the territory. In North America, Canada and The United States formed the UNA for similar reasons after the UN made its relocation to Canada permanent. The GAT and UNA have maintained a close allegiance to this day.
The Treaty of Asian Nations has rarely been met with disdain. The excessive military force thrust upon the world by China destroyed families and history across the whole of Asia, and with the strikes against the US there is little regret felt over the actions taken to strip China bare. Since China exiled itself from the worldwide community, they have never made an attempt at reparations that were not forced upon them by the treaty, losing them what little good will they could have had.
Speaking of the initial Chinese actions to spark the large conflict in the East, historian Ray Marr in his book The Birth of the True United Nations said - There is always an idea that war needs to have a more human reason behind it. That death and carnage can have some justification. But in this case, it we can only assume it was a case of territorial expansion. They could have done far more damage to the countries of the world if they so wished, but what good is scorched earth and the ashes of citizens? The situation within Chinese politics before the fighting in the Middle-East was a blur at best, so until China brings itself back onto the world stage I doubt we'll ever discover what made them wish to sacrifice their diplomatic relations to two of the biggest superpowers on the planet. Maybe they had enough false confidence in their nuclear program with North Korea and in their standard forces that they really could take on the world. At the very least they gave it a damn good try.
In 2045 it was estimated that 190 million people were killed in the war, the majority of casualties being civilian.
What are some of the biggest corporations, and what do they deal in? How are PMCs and security firms viewed legally and morally? How deep does "corporate warfare" go (same as now, killing CEOs by hacking chips, or just straight up going to war with one another on battlefields)?
In Kyoto most of the massive corporations have some link to the government and are hired to assist in supplying services, such as water and public transport. There are normally two-three corporations that take part in a single government contract, so if one goes under a service will not collapse and another corporation will have filled the slot almost immediately. The laws against corporations are hugely strict - any caught breaking laws for gain can be stripped of all assets and liquidated in a day - so most use talented hacking rings as espionage tools, or if desperate try and corrupt a vulnerable politician with blackmail or bribes.
In Vancouver, corporations function much as they did at the beginning of the 21st Century. There is no corporate warfare, so to speak. Most who do wish to get a leg up, simply do so far under the rader. And those caught, suffer greatly at the hands of power.
What is the average tech-level of things? Far more advanced (laser guns and holograms) about the same (M16s and LEDs) or somewhere in between (M18s and images in between layers of glass)?
Somewhere in between. Weapon technology hasn't advanced in great leaps since the end of the Third World War, so most guns function the same as they did at the start of the century. There are prototypes in the military based around heatsinks, but they are unlikely to see any field use until the start of the 22nd century. Artificial intelligence has improved remarkably, with even small offices employing the use of at least one advanced VI. More closed versions of this tech can also be found in high-grade consumer products such as laptops or mobile devices.
Ground transport still makes use of wheels but now utilizes advanced bio-organic fuel. Trains and planes have been overhauled however - consumer flights normally employ planes that can reach speeds of roughly Mach 1.84 over residential areas and about Mach 2.2 over the ocean. Technology has been in various stages of development to conserve fuel over the years, but few systems have been successful. Trains across both the UNA, Europe and the GAT on certain journeys can reach up to 430 miles an hour.
The 'style' so to speak is a mix. Kyoto combines a very sleek cyberpunk look in the richer and more corporate areas of the city, while more industrial and poorer areas don't have the same sheen and tend to be more rough, although the quality of life is still high and the entire city is well-maintained. Vancouver is almost all sleek - high-rise glass buildings and white concrete and steel.