Science-fiction writers who are looking for inspiration need look no further than most daily news reports, especially if they wish to write about Earth in the not-so-distant future. The changes that we will see over the next 20-40 years are becoming increasingly clear from reading articles about economics, politics, and science, as well as society in general. With this in mind, here are a few tips from iUniverse to get you started on a sci-fi novel with the above parameters.
Major metropolises, like London and New York, will consist mainly of high-end apartments, which will be bought and sold by the wealthy, like stocks. See these recent articles, http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2015/jun/29/goodbye-london-moving-to-brighton-house-prices and http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2015/jun/28/london-the-city-that-ate-itself-rowan-moore . Fewer people will be able to afford to live in cities.
- Due to digital improvements, most people will work from their homes. Cities will have a small, poor population that services the rich people who live there, with many of the lower-classes living as servants in the homes of wealthy people.
- Most people, if they retire at all, will retire very late in life. Retirement will be viewed as a luxury.
- The “Corporation” will be more important than the “Country”. We’ve seen this happening since the 1990s, partly with the corporate influence on international politics (consider Halliburton’s role in the US-Iraq war). Google has already gained great prominence as a provider of information, and has the potential to exert greater political influence. It has already acquired the technology to create military robots! (http://www.bbc.com/news/technology-25395989)
China will be a much more active player in world affairs. Again, we have seen this brewing since China’s resurgence in the 1990s. Hitherto, China has confined itself to soft hegemony, as seen in economic diplomacy, but this will change as China gains more financial dominance. Shanghai will replace Hong Kong as the center for Asian trading and finance, and overall China will be more belligerent.
Lest these forecasts seem a bit grim, the scientific side of the near future is much more auspicious.
- Advances in science will render those suffering paralysis or blindness able to have better, happier lives. Check out these exciting articles from last year: http://www.theguardian.com/science/2014/oct/21/paralysed-darek-fidyka-pioneering-surgery?CMP=EMCNEWEML6619I2 and http://www.cbsnews.com/news/blind-man-sees-for-first-time-with-bionic-eye/ . Progress is one of the things that makes life worth living!
- People will live longer. The constant march of medicine means that the average life span of the human being will increase. As of 2013, the highest was Japan, with 84 years: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_life_expectancy
- Robotics: As we reach the further end of the abovementioned time-frame, i.e. 40 years from now, we are likely to see robotic developments enter the mainstream and be part of daily life.
There will also be new social developments:
- There will be an increase in mixed-race couples and families. Anyone who lives in an Asian expatriate hub, such as Singapore or Hong Kong, sees larger numbers of mixed-race children and couples each year. The trend of mixed-marriage is particularly strong between Asians and Caucasians.
- Same-sex couples will be more common. The recent passing of the Same-sex Marriage Law in the US betokens more matrimonial alliances of this nature.
- Families will be smaller. First-world nations have seen a steady drop in family sizes since the Baby Boomers started having children, and this will continue as prices rise out of proportion to salaries, and as people become more educated. Even countries like the Philippines have started to institute some degree of birth control. Families of the future will probably only consist of one child, with two children (as with retirement) viewed as a luxury for the rich.