The Short Version of this Question:
Today, some people like to read speculative fiction for relaxation or inspiration. Very likely, in a future that is science fiction to us, the same kind of person would read the future equivalent of science fiction. But when I read a science fiction novel, where a character takes out a book and starts to read space opera, that always breaks my suspension of disbelief, because it reminds me of what I am doing: reading fiction, and throws me out of the fiction and back into my present reality.
So how can I have a future nerd read science fiction without having him read science fiction?
To answer that question, it might be necessary to understand what the plausible future of narrative media is. You can therefore answer my above question with or without taking into account my ruminations below.
The Long Version of this Question:
In the future, people will still want to relax and entertain themselves with some escapist narrative fiction.
There was a time in the past, when all fiction was orally narrated or acted out on a stage. Then writing was invented and stories were written down and read. Later movies were made and comics, then tv, home video, and, later, handheld devices began to allow viewers to enjoy film outside of movie theatres, ebooks have added a lightweight variant to the printed book, and finally computer games and virtual reality have allowed to users to leave their passive seat and become active and influence the progression of the narrative.
Some science fiction novels still show people reading physical books, others portray societies entranced in front of television screens, and so on. But what is a realistic view on the future of narrative media? Is there a trend away from purely verbal to predominantly visual media? From passive consumption to active participation? Is the future of narrative media something like plugging yourself into your private virtual world in the evening after work, sort of like the human batteries in The Matrix, only recreational?
I'm always a bit unhappy about how this common aspect of life is done in Science Fiction, so I want to try and find a consensus about what is the most plausible future of narrative fiction, given the history of media, current technological trends, and human psychology.
For the purpose of this question, "future" is taken to mean the time that most space opera is set in: close enough to us that human evolution hasn't yet become apparent, but far enough away that humanity has spread through the galaxy, so in numbers, a couple of hundred years in the future.