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Ben Halpern
Ben Halpern

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Which modern fiction presents the most interesting techno-dystopia?

1984, and sometimes Brave New World, are conjured when we talk about tech-driven concerns about the future.

But which modern books, movies, shows, etc. present an interesting view of a scary future?

I imagine Black Mirror will come up, so please provide specific episodes which encapsulate the best ideas.

Discussion (42)

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Matthew Daly

Altered Carbon, both the book and the Netflix series.

It portrays a future where implants called cortical stacks mean that minds can be transferred between bodies. Wealthy people can afford remote backups and clone bodies, while poorer people have to make for with whatever broken down body is available, and the punishment for many crimes is to be stored for a length of time and your body sold off.

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Kit McCormick

Loved Richard Morgan's series. Have you read Thin Air?

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Matthew Daly

I have, and really enjoyed it. I also read Black Man/Thirteen (it was released under two different names), an earlier novel in the same universe, which is also good.

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Evan Plaice

Gattaca

We already have people with means giving their kids growth hormone so they don't end up short and doing elective suegeries before adulthood.

If we reach the point where elective genetic editing is a thing, it will become the ultimate status symbol.

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Kasey Speakman • Edited

One of my favorite movies, and even less technologically ambitious than what we are already capable of today. The central premise of Gattaca was basically a version of selective breeding. (Fertilizing a bunch of eggs, select the most preferable combination, throw out the rest.) But today we are technologically capable of more -- editing genes. Here is a positive example rather than a dystopian one, but tools are only as good or bad as the people wielding them.

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Kristijan Pajtasev

I'd say Snow Crash book by Neal Stephenson, kind of similar to Ready player one. Future where everyone just lives in VR word where they can be everything.

Not too far from today, just missing better VR solutions.

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ogrotten

Ask me on 17 April 2020, the day after the vidya game Cyberpunk 2077 comes out.

The depressing problem -- even more depressing than these fictional futures -- with any of them is that in order to have them there needs to be living people.

With the climate shit going the way it is, I fear it'll be more like Mad Max Fury Road... with it's warlords, hugest cities of 1000 people, and hard-pack desert as far as the remaining satellites can see.

This is a fun question... so I'm sorry to remind.

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Charles Landau

Neal Stephenson's Fall: Or Dodge In Hell

Convincingly explores the potential future as the author sees it. He envisions the consequences of such concepts as: Facebook derangement, brain mapping, concentration of wealth, body augmentation, post-truth-post-trust internet systems, mega-estate law, tax havens, post-privacy logistics, cryptocurrency, and plenty more stuff I can't remember.

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Joe Zack

Yes! This! The burning cross in the Applebees parking lot :O

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Steve Belovarich • Edited

William Gibson. Spook Country. williamgibsonbooks.com/books/spook...

It's about augmented reality, the end of journalism, startups, getting addicted to prescription drugs. Pretty much everything you can expect from a modern-day dystopia.

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Kasey Speakman • Edited

I found the movie Surrogates to be a hidden gem. Especially the setting... a future where humans now interact with their environment (and each other) through a life-like surrogate body, which looks like (probably a youthful version of) them. Think "Avatar" as the mechanism for operation, but the surrogate is used for normal human activities. For example, you still drive a car, go to parties, etc, but you are just controlling your surrogate who controls the car. Basically, the person stays home in their PJs all day controlling the avatar.

The implications and explored cultural effects are quite fascinating. The who-done-it plot was ok, but less interesting than the picture painted by the setting, IMO.

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Craig Nicol (he/him)

Wall-E

What if the only way to save the planet is for humans to leave?

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Paul Bricout

Mr Robot, it is by far the most realistic fiction that I have ever watched, and E-corp could be any one of the big four companies (especially Amazon I feel like).

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J. Jordan Stivers

Mr. Robot is fantastic! Definitely one of the most realistic sci-fi shows (or really of any medium) I've watched.

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Laurell McCaffrey

I was reading through this thread hoping someone said Mr. Robot. I totally agree, it is so realistic it hurts.

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Alan Dávalos

I think the anime Psycho Pass is one of my favorites in this regard.

It portrays a world in which we have a super computer that's capable of calculating a bunch of stuff regarding a person, so things like picking a career and so on are left to it.

But the most interesting part is that it can calculate a "crime coefficient" for any given person, and there's cameras all around the cities watching people so that once anyone goes over a certain limit, they can be sent to correction facilities or even killed on sight.

The story revolves around a newly appointed female police officer who has a gun that can evaluate that coefficient and set itself to paralyze or kill automatically.

She has a partner who's kind of an ex-convict and they go around solving a bunch of cases.

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J. Jordan Stivers

Psycho Pass has a fascinating sci-fi world. I'd definitely recommend it as well.

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Ben Sinclair

I can think of a lot of books...
The Red is a trilogy by Linda Nagata, which I think is particularly interesting because it's very near-future. It's full of drones and AIs and smart weapons, but it's like what would happen if you took Starship Troopers and set it only a few years from now, on Earth, and with near-contemporary technology.

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Matt Ellen

After Battle Royale, and before The Hunger Games and The Purge there is Series 7.

A film about a government sanctioned reality TV show where contestant kill each other, in a last person standing type competition.

Not a super realistic competition, but interesting to think what you would do for money and fame and how far we will fall in this late stage capitalist society.

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Eric Skiff

Daniel Suarez's "Daemon" and "Freedom TM" are amazing explorations of a future techno-dystopia where an impossible to stop computer program sets out new rules for society.

amazon.com/DAEMON-Daemon-Daniel-Su...

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Ryota Murakami

Black Mirror too!! if you like it, I absolutely recommend Psycho-Pass!

SIBYL.System that like mother of god computer.
Which scoring people mental health as a numerical Crime Coefficient.
Main cast are police officer guys and combat against murders with gun.
But the world gun is only work trigger when SIBYL.System's evaluated as insanely Crime Coefficient level.
The series give you philosophical question hard to make answer.

Originally Japanese Anime and netflix serving from 1st series with English subtitle.
And many English area fan forks publishing English wiki, reddit, twitter community etc!

psychopass.fandom.com/wiki/Psycho-...

Thanks reading 😄

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Matthew Daly

Definitely not this year. However, the three books (Altered Carbon, Broken Angels and Woken Furies) are worth a read, and the series diverges enough that you aren't going to be running much risk of spoiling it by reading them.

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Matthew Daly

Another one of note is River of Gods by Ian McDonald. It's essentially a William Gibson-esque cyberpunk with superhuman AI being hunted by police, but the unique selling point is that the setting is a future India.

One of the key plot points is that soap operas use AI actors, but those actors themselves have simulated personal lives, which fill gossip magazines.

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Michiel Hendriks

Idiocracy. A lot of parts of the movie are already true.

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Cyril Niobé

The Circle (the book, not the movie!)

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Doaa Mahely

I really like The Circle by Dave Eggers

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Olzhas Askar

Basically, the story of Facebook and Google

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Charles Reace

Iain M. Banks's "Culture" series of novels explore what it might be like when the AIs have far surpassed humans in virtually every category -- yet fortunately seem to enjoy keeping us biological types around (at least for entertainment?). "Excession" is probably my favorite installment. (They're all stand-alone novels, not a series.)

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Clay Murray

Blade Runner is pretty cool.

The Running Man by Stephen King is good.

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Lautaro Lobo

Yeah, Blade Runner, totally. And the original book, even more recommended.

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rhymes • Edited

It's interesting how none of the dystopias enumerated here are positive

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Alan Dávalos

Well, dystopia is a negative word to begin with, a list of techno-utopias would be kinda nice though

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rhymes

You're right, I was thinking of utopias and swapped the two words.

Thanks for the correction!

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Seanmclem

Conceptually almost 10 years. Actually, since 2015

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Luke Westby

The Internship, featuring Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn

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CodeBrotha

Thanks for all the responses everyone! I've been looking for new reads and this post is now my wishist.

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Kit McCormick • Edited

Lots of love for Richard Morgan's Altered Carbon, but I will nominate 'Market Forces'. Dystopian and a bit on the nose in 2019.

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theCodingStoic

The Jump 225 Trilogy by David Louis Edelman.

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Alessandro Cuppari

Well they started shooting it last february, so probably next year.