I love the aesthetics of retrofuturistic settingsand I aim to build my own. A mixture of a fantastical, Thundercats(2011),Outlaw Star x Star*Drive.
How yesterday saw tomorrow is quite fascinating to me.
Especially 70s to the early 00s, before the digital and Internet revolutions made the world what it is today.
Those 70s/80s sci-fi works are so interesting because few authors, for all the wonders that they dreamed up, saw the Internet and its impact coming.
Even the small number of works like "The Shockwave Rider" by John Brunner that did envision a Networked future didn't envision it as what we have now.
The world of once current, now retro-scifi, were for the most part conceived of as a better version of the author's present.
Through our modern eyes those older retrofutures seem ridiculous...
V.I and perhaps full A.I Exist. Yet customer service, manufacture, construction, even warfare, are either done by humans or with automated systems that still require significant human oversight.
Mobile telecommunication devices, if they exist, operate more like walkies-talkies than modern smartphones or even older cellular phones; they may have video functionality. They're also likely expensive.
Public telecommunication and information terminals are the norm.
Personal computers are expensive beyond the average person's ability to buy or nonexistent.
Electronics are heavy, likely big as well, and work more effectively the larger they get.
Physical Media is still very much major a part of society.
If a computer network exists, it's different from, and more "primitive" than, what we have.
Computer systems and networks (if they exist) are centralized, around supercomputers/master-control systems. Less powerful systems dial into "Central" to access functions and information that they couldn't perform or hold; akin to the client-serve model.
Video game Arcades. Even if video game consoles exist, unlikely, they are under-powered compared to what Arcade machines can do.
I could just handwave all this, have the setting work the way I want through authorial-fiat. But that's not good enough. Even if the audience never knows, I want to have the hows and whys of the setting plotted out.
I refuse have lower standards for the tech of my setting than the magic.
You have to know the rules before you break them, and I don't know enough about computers, telecommunications, and data storage media.
My setting has its own computers based around weired living crystals.
- The Crystals are basically artificial brains.
Why the crystals-computers work isn't relevant; what is relevant is their behavior and properties.
What traits must they have for my setting to function like a retrofuturistic one?
- A.I, but limited automation of labor and warfare.
- Public communication and information terminals.
- Limited portable telecommunication.
- Physical Media being alive and well.
- Electronics are big, heavy, and expensive.
The first and only explanation I have is that the crystals-computers actually need to increase in size to increase their performance, and with size comes larger power consumption; Thus the most powerful computers are immobile and have to be tied to a power grid. Which brings back the trope of central/mainframe computer and a master-control.