The scenario: You are from the distant future, and are trapped in a parallel universe in the mid-1980's. You cannot expose your true identity and your only resource is a hidden laboratory where you can fabricate some high-tech gadgets. You don't want to share your technology because it would mess with civilization. You need resources to build a portal in space that will get you back home. How do you learn about this society, create an identity, and make as much money as possible as fast as possible?

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    $\begingroup$ This sounds to me like it is about the story (plot or story events), not the world itself that the story is set in. Can you Edit to clarify how this is about building a fictional world? See What topics can I ask about here? in the Help center and How to write the perfect question on Worldbuilding Meta for some guidance. $\endgroup$
    – user
    May 13, 2018 at 11:02
  • $\begingroup$ How much money do you need? How soon do you need it? What can you do with your hidden laboratory? What are the criteria for keeping it hidden? $\endgroup$
    – nzaman
    May 13, 2018 at 11:32
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    $\begingroup$ Well, watch the 2nd back to the future movie, but assuming with technology alone? You don't. Having an innovative product does not mean success, it only is a small factor in the equation. For example you have to negotiate with supplliers, you have to market your product, sell it and a lot, lot more. If you are able to do each of those steps right, you don't need the future technology or at least it's not the deciding factor. Otherwise having the most lucrative thing ever won't be of any use to you. I could elaborate more on how this premise is flawed, but I hope you get it from what I wrote $\endgroup$
    – Raditz_35
    May 13, 2018 at 12:17
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    $\begingroup$ Gambling: you know who won all the games, all the matches, what the lottery numbers were. $\endgroup$
    – RonJohn
    May 13, 2018 at 12:38
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    $\begingroup$ This sounds like a How to deal with "I have a High Concept, please do my work for me question. Literally, your entire book is the answer to this question. Regrettably, the consensus is to VTC "too broad" such questions until you've limited your scope. $\endgroup$
    – JBH
    May 13, 2018 at 18:41

1 Answer 1


Your big advantage in coming from the future is knowledge. You know which companies are going to rise, so you can invest in them. You might remember results of games/races/etc., so you can bet on those.

Betting (similar to Back to the Future II) is actually weak - if you win too many times, someone would suspect fraud. But if you use it once to gain a starting capital, and then invest that in what you know is going to be on the rise, you're set for financial success.

For comparison, imagine being able to go back a mere ten years into the past, and telling your past self to invest in bitcoin.

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    $\begingroup$ This is the easiest answer. You know, for instance, that Microsoft is going to hit it big. Or Apple, or Wal-Mart, or (insert era-appropriate company here). A bit of gambling to raise the starting money, then drop it into the upcoming stars of the corporate world. You're going to make quite a lot of money. It's also notable that this answer doesn't even require that much knowledge of the future (as opposed to memorizing the results of who knows how many games or races, if you decide to gamble all the way to the top). $\endgroup$
    – Palarran
    May 13, 2018 at 14:49
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    $\begingroup$ @user875234 I'm an average person. The only equation I remember off the top of my head is E=MC^2, and I wouldn't know what to do with it. On the other hand, I do know that Microsoft and Intel are big. My solution only requires general knowledge, yours is more tech-savvy. That said, the character is supposed to build a space-time portal... $\endgroup$ May 13, 2018 at 15:09

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