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I wrote a speculative science fiction novel in 2014, and last week I met a copy editor who suggested that I do some digging to find out how the society in which my character would be integrated would look like from a social, political, legal, etc perspective. Here's part of what my copyeditor said.

You say the story is set in the 2040s, but I see almost no evidence of that.... In a story set 20-30 years from now, there should be more advanced technology seen in everyday life, not just at the transhuman clinic, more effects of climate change, more social and political change, etc. It's not very plausible that your character would never have seen an electric car before, for instance. Think about your fictional history for the next 20 or 30 years and give hints about it here and there throughout the book.

The only things I made stand out was the medical lab with the ability to perform extremely advanced research that would be more plausible in the near future, but the society in which my characters are in is a lot like the society from today. I guess what I'm trying to get at is a way for me to write a novel without the exaggerations of the technology that is often associated with popular culture.

For a start, are there any predictable political or socioeconomic scenarios that might seem plausible?

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closed as too broad by ohwilleke, HDE 226868 Aug 22 '18 at 2:12

Please edit the question to limit it to a specific problem with enough detail to identify an adequate answer. Avoid asking multiple distinct questions at once. See the How to Ask page for help clarifying this question. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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    $\begingroup$ I think this is probably a better question for the Writing stackexchange. Sure, we can come up with lots of different future scenarios. Your editor has his own ideas (climate change, electric cars) but you could go an entirely different direction. I think his point is not what the future should be, but whether you actually have a vision and have communicated it to the reader. $\endgroup$ – Joe Aug 22 '18 at 0:38
  • $\begingroup$ Google is your friend. Try searching for "sea level rise map" for a start. Then look at trends and fads now, flip a coin and have that trend die out or go totally out there with it. However, this question is extremely broad and should be edited to focus on one aspect at a time (though multiple questions). $\endgroup$ – ShadoCat Aug 22 '18 at 0:42
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    $\begingroup$ It's worth noting that 10 years ago, the first true smartphone, the iPhone, was introduced. Progress had been made in that direction with PDAs, but it wasn't the same thing, not by a large margin. Twenty years ago, Google had just been founded and Apple, a foundering company, was just introducing its hail-Mary play, the iMac. What I'm saying is, if you're setting something thirty years in the future, you are unavoidably going to have to deal with major technological change on an individual level. $\endgroup$ – jdunlop Aug 22 '18 at 0:47
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    $\begingroup$ @jdunlop Not necessarily. HeavenlyHarmony could instead envision a new civil war, or a dystopian economic collapse, or aliens arriving and teaching us all to sing Kumbaya. I think the only sure thing is that he needs to come up with some vision, any vision that's sort of internally consistent with itself enough to work for his reader. $\endgroup$ – Joe Aug 22 '18 at 0:52
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    $\begingroup$ I think that this question is a bit too open ended to have a useful answer. Also, in general, the medium term future is often the hardest one to write. Even the greats, like Arthur C. Clark (2001 and 2010) and George Orwell (1984) really struggled to get medium future dates and feel correct. Far future/far past (e.g. Star Wars is far less constrained by now), immediate future allows for baby step changes. But, in the medium term you have to make meaningful changes yet are still severely constrained by current reality. $\endgroup$ – ohwilleke Aug 22 '18 at 1:07
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You need to figure out why you're setting your story in the future and not in the current age. If you want super advanced research, there is nothing stopping you from implementing it in our current time. If you put it in the future then you're going to need to explain why things are the same or haven't changed. There are a ton of emerging technologies such as self driving cars, smart houses and AI advancements as well global warming, political turmoil (Trump Russia) and changes in culture and what is socially acceptable (Gay rights, Feminism, Black Lives Matter). You need to provide hints as to why things have or haven't changed and this should be presented subtly.

For example. "I reached down and slowly drew out my gun. Not one of those fancy new guns, with bio-metric registration and finger print scanning. But an old fashion gun with no electronics in it, untraceable and highly illegal." You could then add some history which explains what happens and builds up some lore for your world. e.g. "After the riots of 2022 and a series of live streamed school shootings, legislators quickly pushed to integrate tracking technology with gun control. They could fry your gun from the comfort of their toilet if they wanted to. But I had my ways."

Or something like "I got into the taxi and typed the address into the console. The robot driver greeted me cheerfully but I ignored it."

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  • $\begingroup$ Thanks for your suggestions. This really add something useful and I'll have my copyeditor look at this site for their ideas. One thing I might suggest if you don't mind, is use a more inclusive term like social justice to encompass LGBTQIA rights or egalitarianism, which would ignore masculinism or feminism and treat all humans as equals. But I agree with you that there should be some nuance of introducing fictional history rather than making a lot of effort into explaining it in their own paragraphs. $\endgroup$ – HeavenlyHarmony Aug 22 '18 at 1:20

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