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I was looking at the cyperpunk genre, and I noticed that for dystopian futures, they always tend to do big, bad corporations controlling most of everything, with a mostly corrupt police force, and uncaring for the people at the bottom. No middle class, really.

I was thinking of switching it up; where there's a highly regulated set of laws (there would be other things to make it more of a dystopia, but these laws are what the main focus would be) similar to Prohibition: While a lot of people agree with the idea (for valid seeming reasons at the time) a lot, including people in power, don't. I also really like the idea of cyberpunk style zoot suits.

So it's still people fighting against the regime, but it's not just the haves vs the have nots, and people in charge vs the downtrodden. There's people on both sides of this issue, in all sorts of various places.

My question is: What could be so heavily regulated that people would want (not need, I would rather not it be a staple for living) that would make sense to ban? Alcohol has been done before, I was thinking of some futuristic/cyberpunk equivalent.

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  • $\begingroup$ Cybernetic Implants? $\endgroup$ – Lu22 Dec 8 '16 at 8:20
  • $\begingroup$ how about human rights? $\endgroup$ – Burki Dec 8 '16 at 8:22
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Ban colors

Everyone would have to dress, paint their homes, paint their cars, etc. in gray scale. It would be more amazing in a visual medium, but still pretty cool.

Ban sugar

You can live without pure sugar. Echoes of modern killjoys.

Ban tobacco

We're coming close to that anyhow. But, suddenly dump it on lots of people and see how they'd act.

Ban music and dancing

There are already religious communities in the U.S. that have done this, some of which were especially vigorous in the 1920s.

Ban pets

Saudi Arabia has long banned dogs, although recently legalized them. And, lots of people could related having snuck in pets in places where they are banned now like apartments and dorms and barracks.

Ban long hair

The opposite of the Islamic don't shave thing. Everyone would be required to be clean shaven and basically bald. Like the Army, but for everyone across genders and status.

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    $\begingroup$ I like the pet idea. Justified by the great pet plague of 2246 when some black-hat gene-engineered a human plague spread by dogs, cats, and for some reason, hamsters. $\endgroup$ – Mark Ripley Dec 8 '16 at 8:37
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    $\begingroup$ Basically banning self expression and individuality - love the blandness it would leave. Maybe chuck art into the ban list? Visually your answer would make an amazing contrast between the near silent greyscale environment and the rebel's brightly graffiti'd hideouts with blaring music and clouds of smoke. $\endgroup$ – Lu22 Dec 8 '16 at 11:02
  • $\begingroup$ @Lu22 Equilibrium (en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Equilibrium_(film)) did this well, especially the art ban $\endgroup$ – Toadfish Dec 8 '16 at 21:49
  • $\begingroup$ @Toadfish. Pretty much. Just need to ban emotion too then. $\endgroup$ – Lu22 Dec 9 '16 at 4:42
  • $\begingroup$ I really like the pet idea too. The color one would be amazing in a computer game, greyscaling with a splash of color, similar to Schindler's List, perhaps... $\endgroup$ – Axiluvia Dec 12 '16 at 20:24
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A fusion energy source.

The story picks up after its discovery, and the mystery and intrigue that surround the death of its inventor, and the disappearances of any of its advocates. Ultimately, the prohibitive ban on the energy-source is established.

The ban could have been instituted by a shady Council of corporations in a bid to discourage common Liberty (or even just the rise of that absent middle-class you mentioned). The pseudo-rationalisation of this would be that without the precise conditions and informed oversight afforded by these corporations, any experiments with such a potent source of energy is most likely to result in large-scale disaster and irreparable damage; the outcome even likened to a nuclear holocaust. However, the truth remains that a fusion energy source, or this one at least, is especially docile, albeit containing the cosmic energy potential to liberate the under-people.

Feeding into the general tropes of the genre, this would allow you to trace the journey of a hero/collective in discovering the truth behind this conspiracy, discovering the subversive political tactics employed by the System that seeks to monopolise this resource by first inciting fear-mongering among the public about it which feeds their larger ignorance, and culminates in a submissive public that willingly submits to the 'protection' offered by these 'patriotic' and 'benevolent' Council of corporations.

On the sidelines, the government which sees the actuality of the situation but lacks the authority to enforce any change, instead covertly augments the protagonists' efforts to overthrow the capitalist oligarchy; again, unable to be in any sense obvious about this owing to the constraints enforced on the government by the corporations.

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1) Enhancements (cybernetic or otherwise) to boost intelligence (transhumanism).

2) Immortality drugs or treatments.

3) Cloning yourself (organs harvesting or whole-body brain transplants)

4) Building an artificial intelligence (enslaving it or paperclip maximizer)

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Does it have to be "banned"? Can you use the opposite "forced upon"?
In this case you can force laws upon the general population, that may seem fair, but actually cause problems.
Some examples would be:

  • By law, each household should have at least one mammal pet. Yes, sure, we all like pets and fight for their rights, but when you fight for everyday survival (did you say dystonia setting?), having extra expenses due to pets can be overwhelming, especially if you have no say on that matter, due to some law.
  • Health Chips must be implanted upon birth, a nice way to monitor your health, or your whereabouts. But all those conspiracy theories of earlier decades, have become a reality now. The average person will have other things to worry about on his everyday life, but.. a certain percentage of the population still values the privacy.
  • Handicapped people or terminal ill are put to death, as being non productive members of society. Health care expenses must be reduced for some "reasons" given.
  • Drugs may be legal and forced upon people to keep them emotionless throughout the day (for example drugs that deprive feelings, or that causes apathy, etc). "For optimal work force" of course.
  • Controlled births. You can have a child only with the permission of the state, due to whatever reason you want (lack of houses/jobs/food supplies/overpopulation etc). Sure it sounds fair, but who (and how) decides which family is allowed to have children?

All of the above can be "generally accepted" in a society.

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This is a bit out there (but that's why you asked, isn't it?):

Posit the technology for instant, point to point communication of limited length character messages (like telegrams.) But no storage, automatic routing or services beyond transmissions of "telegrams" to known addresses like a home or workplace. Like telephone numbers, they can be listed (via a paper phonebook) or unlisted. Perhaps an unread message causes that number to report busy until read. (What if new messages silently overwrote the one in the display? Lots of plot complication potential.)

The technology for automated switching (e.g. of telephones) was being developed, based on elecro-mechanical relays (magnets and coils of wire) around this time, but in our timeline, was not yet up to the task.

The big bad? The surveillance/reading of "telegrams" to root out terrorist/anarchist/socialist/pick-your-undesirables by the government and/or the bad guys at the Ministry of Post and Telecommunications.

Imagine inspector Lestrade (or the equivalent) being capable of reading Sherlock's private messages -- or the Prime Minister's. Who could stop such a person? (Clearly, there are no relevant parallels in our world; this is purely, purely for satire, drama or misc. storytelling. YMMV.)

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Interpretation of Intellectual Property Rights

Some people think that corporations should be free to patent a business model. Others disagree. Some people think that copyright should be extended whenever Mickey Mouse is due to enter public domain. Others disagree. DRM. "Viral" open source licenses (use that nifty library and you're legally bound to publish the source code of your program -- if there is somebody to enforce it). Patents on parts of the human genome. The possibilities are endless.

Some characters might think that the patent system only benefits great companies and expensive lawyers. Others claim that it allows the little guy to profit from a clever idea and "get a fair share of the pie." Each side has honest believers and opportunists.

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