In my SciFi book, 400 years from now, humanity has expanded throughout the solar system and managed to survive the death Earth. In their history, Earth fell during the third world war in 2093 CE and the five existing colonies in the solar system (Luna, Mars, Venus, Callisto, and Titan) were all that was left of humanity. Fast forward 336 years and humanity refers to WWIII as the "Earthfall", the next 49 years as the "Schism" until the five colonies and rogue fleets were united under a single unified government, which is then referred to as the "Formation".

Now with that general background in mind, what would the people of that future refer to our current time period as? (e.g. Middle ages, Renaissance, Industrial Revolution,...etc)

I don't intend for this to be an opinion based question as I am looking for terms that actually might already be used if there are any. Please site a source if it isn't a term that should be easily recognized and I have somehow completely forgotten it. I am discounting terms like "The Digital Age" and "The Modern Age" as everything in the future is likely to continue to be digital, and "modern" means now, which obviously won't be the same for people in the future. Also, if this has already been answered or is too opinion oriented please let me know in the comments.

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    $\begingroup$ Naming questions are virtually always opinion based. It's hard to come up with a good criteria, and history can always have a say. Remember that we called it "The Great War" until we had a second one which forced us to relabel it "World War 2." That being said, my vote would be to call it"oops!" $\endgroup$
    – Cort Ammon
    Commented Nov 26, 2018 at 5:30
  • $\begingroup$ Agreed that this query is opinion based. There is however good worldbuilding context to counterbalance that and also, worldbuilding is by definition a rather opinion based exercise! $\endgroup$
    – elemtilas
    Commented Nov 26, 2018 at 5:36
  • $\begingroup$ Of interest: 'The (Late) Modern Age' is in fact already in the past for us - it's usually thought of as to have ended with World War 2 $\endgroup$
    – Pingcode
    Commented Nov 26, 2018 at 7:55
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    $\begingroup$ The meme ages. $\endgroup$ Commented Nov 26, 2018 at 10:08
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    $\begingroup$ What's wrong with its actual name, the Late Modern period? Did they forget it? $\endgroup$
    – AlexP
    Commented Nov 26, 2018 at 11:31

5 Answers 5


We already refer to it as the Information Revolution

The use of computers has revolutionised not only the way we collect data and how we use it, but how we think and solve problems. I grew up in a time before Google, and actually learned how to break down a problem into constituent elements, look for keywords, then look them up in encyclopedias. This is a skill that people don't need anymore, like shorthand or even handwriting in some cases.

Our ability to analyse data and derive insights is based on the fact that computers don't need to keep all the moving parts of a puzzle in mind as we do to solve it; they simply follow a set process blindly, allowing us to make key decisions along the way and derive insights from data holdings that it would be impossible to interrogate manually.

Ultimately, information will become the most important asset and resource to many companies (it is already for some) and how we allow those companies to interact with us has already changed massively. The idea of terms and conditions that deal with aspects like privacy, data disclosure and rights in case of a breach were simply unheard of 50 years ago, and given that we now hear job titles like Data Scientist really tell you everything you need to know.

The more interesting question is what the next era is going to look like, and what it will be called by historians.

  • $\begingroup$ The main issue I see here is that this particular name is far too 20th century centric. People 400 years from now are going to look back on what we think and say "that's all they thought information was in the 21st century!? How unthinking!" By then, their historians will probably think of the I.R. as actually happening in the late 19th century (that is, after all, when it really does begin --- in the 21st, we're just riding the rising tide). Don't forget to consider the after effects of war on technology. The post-war period will be the true I.R. of the future! $\endgroup$
    – elemtilas
    Commented Nov 26, 2018 at 15:48
  • $\begingroup$ @elemtilas Even that is kind of debatable. I once read somewhere that actually the printing press already was an information revolution. As was invention of paper. And the invention of codex. And the invention of writing of course. It is arguable that the development of civilization is the development of information management. And revolutions in it are dime a dozen. $\endgroup$ Commented Nov 27, 2018 at 6:36
  • $\begingroup$ @VilleNiemi -- Right. And the invention of stone and chisels. And the invention of clay and styluses. So, what I see, then, is even lèss of a reason to call the present time the "Information Revolution." We've been there dozens of times already! And I can only imagine that the technologies and processes that will be invented for and during and after the 2093 War will make our notions of "information" look like scratches on sun baked clay in comparison! $\endgroup$
    – elemtilas
    Commented Nov 27, 2018 at 19:46

Very many names could be devised by future historians for the two century period of massive technological advance (and social devolution). No names have come to us from any future time period, so there are no terms that are already being used.

Since there is a devastating war in 2093, the Antebellum Period comes to mind immediately. (Yes, "Antebellum" also refers to the early to mid 1800s in the US, but 400 years from now, no one is even going to know what the US civil war was about or why it was important.)

The great advances in technology might earn this period the moniker the Great Leap or the Second Renaissance.

The general decay of culture might earn this period the name Neo-Medieval Period or the Great Decadence.

  • $\begingroup$ On the relativity of names: in Europe, "antebellum" means early 1900s, the end of the Belle Époque. We don't have a special name for the historical period of the U.S.A. before the War of Secession; in those rare occasions when we need to speak about it we simply call it "U.S.A. before the War of Secession". $\endgroup$
    – AlexP
    Commented Nov 26, 2018 at 11:29
  • $\begingroup$ Which War of Secession? ;) (There was one in 1776 or thereabouts...) Also, 400 years from now, most people will probably not even be aware there was a Belle Epoque, let alone an actual 1900! That will be like us in 2018 barely being aware of the existence of the early 1500s! $\endgroup$
    – elemtilas
    Commented Nov 26, 2018 at 15:43
  • $\begingroup$ There was only one American War of Secession. The previous unpleasantness is generally known as the American War of Independence, or possibly, I don't know, the Uppity Colonial Uprising;) As for the early 1500s, we are pretty much aware of them -- Stephen the Great of Moldavia died in 1504 and, in 1514, his successor, Bogdan III, made the country a vassal state of the Ottoman Empire. I bet north-western European people are also quite aware of the early 1500s -- in 1517 a German monk named Martin Luther nailed his Ninety-Five Theses to the wooden door of All Saints' Church in Wittenberg. $\endgroup$
    – AlexP
    Commented Nov 26, 2018 at 20:38

I think elemtilas is on the right track with his first suggestion. If the people you are concerned with see WW3 or the Earthfall as the BIG turning point in the history, and they certainly would, they would see the preceding period in terms of the war.

I am not sure why you are talking about Third World War. Maybe it arises from the tensions left by the second world war in the same way the second arised from failure to properly resolve the first world war. Maybe it is just big enough that it must be called a world war and is called the third because there already were two wars called world wars. The difference would matter in the naming.

The time between the first two world wars is often called the Interwar period because it was the time between the two world wars. (duh) So if the third world war is somehow logically connected to the first two ones it could reasonably be called the second interwar period or the long interwar period.

More reasonably the name would be derived from the Earthfall moniker that seems to imply a pretty crucial difference from the first two world wars that would matter to people when thinking about the preceding period.

Pre-fall period would be fairly obvious alternative.

Another alternative would be to look at the preceding period as the wasted last opportunity to avoid what follows and derive the name from that. But I (obviously) do not actually know the causes for the Eartfall and so cannot speculate on that. Period of some sort of foolishness or blindness for sure.

But even the causes for the first world war are still debated. While it is fairly easy to see that political leaders post-Bismarck messed up the system, it is not really simple to name what they did wrong and who the "they" specifically were.

But in general the bad news is that elemtilas is probably right about in which direction the naming happens the unknowable future names this period based on what it considers important which will almost certainly differ from what matters to us. Because of, you know, that huge war that pretty much destroys everything our age built.


The Stupid Ages

This wasn't coined by me, this a brainchild of Matt Groening...


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    $\begingroup$ +1 for striking the nail square on the head and driving it right through the plank and out the other side! $\endgroup$
    – elemtilas
    Commented Nov 26, 2018 at 15:51

The Deforestation Age or The Desertification Age

In hindsight, the key factor might well be what happened to the tropical rainforests, and the follow-up effects of that. Or perhaps other names related to climate change.

The problem with that is that we already had severe climate impact on history and it didn't rate a name.

The Global Age

Trade and investment patterns are integrated to an unprecedented degree. To go with the Age of Exploration, the Age of Mercantilism and the Age of Imperialism, trade patterns might name the age.

The Chinese Hegemony

At least that's what the Chinese would like to see. Other peoples have different ideas, and countries rarely get things entirely their way. Perhaps the Pacific Age.


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