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Everyday life in SF

  1. Mar 31, 2016 #1
    I think that many SF books and films focus on big battles, or a great discovery, but care less about, how everyday life could change?

    In a not so near future, (that is fictional, but meant to be rather hard, realistic) could people have a life similar to ours, with all the recent developments with 3d printers, robotics etc? Could they just go work in a factory, then a nearby shop, then somewhere for amusement?
    Or is it like writing an alternative steampunk setting, because there should be only robots in the factory, home 3d printer and home entertainment system provides everything that is needed?
    Could you suggest me books or ideas, that help develop this part, what could they work, how could they live?

    The fixed parts of my setting are : 100km/s delta-V fusion ships, breakthroughs in brain-computer interfaces, colonization from Mercury to asteroid belt, but it is far from utopistic, with all the corruption on Earth, totalitarism on Mercury and free for all war between the megacorps of asteroid belt.
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  3. Mar 31, 2016 #2
    I would think day-to-day life would actually be pretty similar, just with more technology. Our every-day behaviors are more due to the evolution of our brain than anything else. If I were do if I were you is learn about the everyday life of the average human in various civilizations from the past, from that research you should easily be able to determine which is a human constant and what's cultural. Personally, I would probably do a comparative study of: 2015 USA, 1960 USA, 1880 USA, 1700 USA, 1500 Italy, 1500 Aztec Empire, 1100 Vatican, 800 China, 500 Western Rome, 1AD Rome, 500 BC Babylon, 1000 BC Egypt, 3000 BC Egypt, 10000 BC Europe, 100000 BC Africa
  4. Mar 31, 2016 #3
    A good point. That made me think about the following : so in medieval ages, there were the guilds, the masters produced unique arts of work after lots of learning.
    Then manufactures, then factories. Tasks became simpler and simpler.
    But robots definitally do boring routine jobs more efficient. Would that mean in my future it would be pretty realistic to return to the concept of the guild?
    Humans should produce something unique, masterpieces, or at least, oversee lots of complex processes? Maybe even prosecute those who dont belong to the guild, you dont have the proper qualifications, licences, your products are risky, harmful?

    I also wonder about 3d printer possibilities, i read somewhere that they will be able to print organs. Well i can hardly imagine, that this could happen anytime soon, still could they cripple trading, because everything can be produced locally? Or no, because even if those printers could became like Star Trek replicators, or W40k STC-s, an old fashioned field or drug labor or factory could create a set of things much cheaper?
  5. Apr 4, 2016 #4
    I know one of the things I tend to wonder about is nomenclature and whether inventions we have created now will still be there in the future in much the same form as they are now. In something I'm working on now is set four or five hundred years in the future and the hero receives a message on what is for all intrinsic purposes a cellphone. My problem was deciding if I should refer to the cellphone as...well...a cellphone. This is the place where I should say something like: "I'm sure cellphone technology will be far different five hundred years from now!", but I'm not sure cellphone technology will be all that different five hundred years from now. The form of the cellphone will probably meet our needs more-or-less the way it is right now until we stop having ears. I mean, the basic design of a knife is the same since the bronze age.
  6. Apr 4, 2016 #5


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    IMO too many SF authors focus on technological differences and forget/underestimate the social changes. If you walk back through the last few hundred years, even in the west, you would find:

    - Marital rape not considered a crime, or even a real phenomenon
    - Domestic violence being tolerated
    - People jailed for being gay, subjected to physical abuse throughout society, chemically castrated as a "treatment"
    - Women not only without the right to vote but socially prevented from work
    - Voting rights restricted to landowners
    - Rights based on class (see also: serfdom)
    - Access to education restricted to upper class males
    - The Church playing a major, integrated role in everyone's lives (see also: how powerful the Catholic church used to be in europe)

    That's a narrow set of examples but it paints a picture of everyday life that is significantly different to that of today. Sure you can be super-reductive about it and say "well people still eat, work, socialise" etc but there are some radical changes in that.
  7. Apr 4, 2016 #6
    Well Heinlein's later work always included polyamory--something that shows up in my fiction as well. Off to work, gotta go.
  8. Apr 4, 2016 #7
    That isnt entirely true, of course before industrialization, many jobs required male physical abilities.


    Work is my biggest problem from the list. At this point, i think that there will be quite big unemployment on Earth, social aid has to be high enough to prevent riots.
    On Mercury i described, that many people has to work in sex industry, so they are teached to be pretty shameless, coeducated showers in many places. I'll write that tycoons of Mercury having haarems, otherwise most of my characters have conventional relationships.
    In my story, church still plays an important role in many places, for example at islamic regions, or Mars.
    I also think, that society more or less reflects economical situation and environment, for example, in the asteroid belt, even air is private property.
    On Mars, i think the situation is better for average people, they has to buy fusion power, but a big family household can sorround a small greenhouse, that can satisfy basic needs.
  9. Apr 4, 2016 #8
    Yeah, work could be a problem in both real life and science fiction. It's depressingly easy to imagine a world that has 2 or 3% of the population we have now. All of them offspring of the contemporary rich, all of them served hand and foot by robots, all of them in essence dickering with each other for whatever they can't make themselves. The alternative is 80 to 90% of the population surviving solely on charity. I find the second alternative only slightly better than the first alternative. I've never had kids and, at the moment, nothing convinces me that was a bad idea.

    There was a time when the Science Fiction magazines (remember them) would have one story per issue about some job that has never existed before, but did in the setting of the story because of some new social relationship, specific gadget, or just being at that point of progression in that particular society. Maybe it's time to go back to those days.
  10. Apr 5, 2016 #9


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    Sure if you go back far enough or look at the lower classes women also had to work (but with extra risks, as that link says). I was referring to the middle class as a comparison to modern day. In any case going back further into feudal times there are some other huge differences like being tied to the land, almost everyone being illiterate etc.

    On the rest of your points work in the future is something that has been discussed, examined etc ad nauseum in SF. I genuinely think that social changes are something that is harder and more often forgotten. Work in the future generally is portrayed as:

    - Limited with work shared/volunteered for and industry communally provided for. Some form of basic income used. (The utopian perspective).
    - Limited work with extreme wealth inequality. Lower classes live off of small welfare, often ghettoised. (The dystopian/cyberpunk perspective).
    - Work is similar but different. Most people work in intellectual, creative or social/care industries.
  11. Apr 6, 2016 #10
    Middle one fits my setting the most, but no ghettos. With travel became very cheap, maybe lots of people can be nomads, someone or something just bombed a facility, rush there.

    Education is a good point, that is worth discussing.
    I think with most information available on internet, students shouldnt cram in data like what happened when.

    On the other hand, with a good enough VR system (cyberpunk style, although usually i prefer wearable technology to implants) and with a site running an advanced simulator, one could train him/herself to be a qualified worker in free time. Then after 5, 10 years of maintenance jobs, one could became a master of a guild who can come up with developments, unique masterpieces.
    Due to almost constant warfare in asteroid belt, things wont be static, it is not like one develops the perfect system, and that is, no more work with it.
  12. Apr 6, 2016 #11


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    How about the reverse of ghettos: gated communities for the rich?

    Sounds like something Larry Niven came up with; in a world with cheap, quick travel (in his case teleporters) current events will be swamped by visitors. Though in real life when a bomb goes off people avoid the area, not run close to gawk.

    Self-teaching very well could be better, though having a good teacher will always be better in some circumstances. Beyond that though two points:

    1) If automation has taken away much of the labour demand then studying won't be a guarantee of work by far. A citizen may spend years self-teaching, applying to take guild tests, becoming accredited and still end up in a situation where there is one job for every hundred applicants. That alone might turn people off trying.

    2) Guilds were organisations within settlements that not only represented a trade but maintained a monopoly over that trade. Have you worked in the latter concept into your worldbuilding?
  13. Apr 6, 2016 #12
    Alan Dean foster did that in his Commonwealth series. The rich live in the Inurbs; enclaves with walls and security services. I believe Paris is actually laid out in the same way. The poor live in the suburbs.

    I live in rural, Southern Minnesota; the suburbs of Tornado Alley. Trust me, tornadoes are as scary as bombs are, but when they've passed through everyone goes down to look at the damage they do.
  14. Apr 6, 2016 #13
    Yeah, that is fine.

    Nomads would rush there to get temporary jobs (as the infrastructure is damaged, more nurses needed etc), trade, or probably scavange.

    1. Well, on Earth, only persistent and lucky ones get chance for better life. I have a line about a Mercury woman saying, maybe we arent really free, but at least, we dont live on Earth. (On Mercury, the Queen and the top human level AI only have to care about 10 millions people. I think taxation of a corporation should be proportional to employed robot/human ratio.)

    2. Well, i would say it is advised to enter into the guild, like it is advised to pay for the protection of a bar in Sicily. Earth is rather corrupt, while i think the asteroid belt could be a but feudalistic : even air is private property, governor has to be praised as a feudal lord, if an artifical hand is available it is acceptable to chop down one's hand for a crime.
  15. Apr 13, 2016 #14


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    You should read The Light of Other Days by Arthur C. Clarke and Stephen Baxter. They go deeply into the changes caused by the discovery and don't shy away from things the more straight-laced among us might find a bit uncomfortable.

    Another good one on that front would be the two Cyteen novels by C.J. Cherryh, where the very concept of "family" takes on a new meaning.

    I'd even be willing to recommend the Vatta's War series by Elizabeth Moon, though not to the same degree.
  16. Apr 13, 2016 #15
    If we are going to advise a reading list GTOM, I'd add The Moon is a Harsh Mistress by Heinlein. If for some reason you've never read this run, do not walk, to your favorite bookstore and pick up a copy right now!
  17. Apr 16, 2016 #16
    Thank you. The Light of Other Days. i dont like that we know history better attitude, that Cyteen seems to be interesting. :) (In my later universe, i can stray away more from present lifeform.)

    Khatti, yes i read it, and i started to read Starship Troopers soon.
  18. Apr 24, 2016 #17
    Just browsed Unabomber manifesto, pretty shocking one :( Probably luddite, anarchist groups could be significant.

    I imagine a more refined solution on Mars, where government decided they dont want to follow the path of Earth, and import people from backwater areas, and those who grow dissatisfied with big city life. Their solution is put heavy taxes on fine electronics, focus on good old heavy industry for paraterraforming, and enhance human abilities with various solutions :

    (A goal is to achieve something like Starship Troopers, although i dont imagine them so militaristic, that smarter people wouldnt have other way to prove their responsibility and care for others than military service.)
  19. Apr 24, 2016 #18
    Around my office somewhere is a paperback copy of Unabomber by John Douglas. Douglas was one of he profilers who helped track down Kozinski. His advice on dealing with terrorists like Kozinski is to never take their proclamations too seriously: they are just as much an excuse as a motivation. If this Subject interests you for it's own sake (I'm afraid it does me) I would also check out American Extremists, by Laird Wilcox and John George, The Righteous Mind, by Jonathon Haidt, The Good Terrorist, by Doris Lessing and, with absolutely all pretense of modesty cast aside, a novelette I published on Amazon's Kindle Service called Dissent (by Khatti).

    The Mars of your story is a frontier world, it isn't the long-established environment that Earth is in the story of Starship Troopers. The Martians don't have that particular Earth's problem and wouldn't see any advantage in that particular solution. Your Mars may have a militia, or perhaps a militia substitute.
  20. Apr 24, 2016 #19
    Mars would have the primary issue of paraterraforming, and populate it with enough people, after a time it becomes a pretty valuable planet worth capturing by others.
  21. Sep 21, 2017 #20
    I wondered about a few things about martian life.

    Would increased doses of UV-C make their skin brown? (Of course they live under sand and thick domes, but solar storms can be still nasty, also villagers get out regularly to mine ice, cleanse mirrors, care for plants in green house)

    Is regular vacuum cleaning needed in a domed city, would they have problems with dust?
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