1. fallenn
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    fallenn Member

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    World after technology

    Discussion in 'Setting Development' started by fallenn, May 21, 2013.

    So my fantasy stories take place in far future, when the golden age of technology has been over for hundreds of years and people live without electricity and etc.
    The point is that how would you imagine the world to be after, let's say, one thousand years. In my story, there has been a period of time when the main goal has been to clean up the world from everything that reminds people of the time they still had computers and such. So it's not like they have old cars or power plants all over the place. But some of the cities have remained quite untouched and I'd like to know how much there would probably be left after so many years. What would happen to the buildings, roads, railways etc.

    I think that this is an interesting topic to think about. I've seen some documentaries about what would happen if all the people would suddenly disappear and everything would be left the way they were in that moment. It's quite fascinating.

    Luckily I'm writing fantasy, so I can stretch the reality to fit into my needs by mixing in some magic. That way I don't have to worry about things being completely accurate. :)
     
  2. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Well, as to the question of how much would be left, the Science Channel actually did a series of shows, as you mentioned, (can't remember the title now) that discussed the very topic, and the answer would seem to be that within a 1000 years, very little would be left. Without humans taking care of, mending, reinforcing, and replacing aging structural parts, modern buildings within a city have a pretty short shelf life. Humans no longer build with materials able to withstand the test of time on their own.
     
  3. erebh
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    erebh Contributing Member Contributor

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    I suppose you can consider the future the same way as we look at the past. Ancient buildings, monuments, landmarks such as the pyramids, Newgrange, Stone Henge, Machu Picchu etc that we in 2013 still know nothing about.

    Could your fantasy race 1000 years down the line look at the Eifel Tower and think WTF?
     
  4. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    For some ideas, have a skim through Jim Aikin's The Wall at the Edge of World. It tackles the very trope of which you speak and is a novella by today's standards, so a quick read. Far-flung future, remnants of the distant technological past, some fantasy elements for flavah. ;) Also, The Chrysalids by John Wyndham which is a long short story. I'm sure there are a bajillion other examples, but these two are very quick reads to get an idea on how others have handled The Long Ago Days when the Elders had Great Knowing. ;)
     
  5. TimHarris
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    TimHarris Senior Member

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    The chapter "Sloosha's Crossin' an' Ev'rythin' After" from A Cloud Atlas describe a post technology society. I think it would be natural that some technology would surface, and that the people living in such a world would figure out how several pieces of technology works on a basic level. Computers with intuitive interfaces might be something that people might use even though they have no idea how it works or how to fix it if anything goes wrong.
     
  6. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Very true. Your mention of computers with intuitive interfaces brings to mind one of my most beloved of all works, The City and the Stars by A.C. Clarke. The entire walled city of Diaspar is run by a Central Computer and maintained by "eternity circuits"* with a triangular redundancy that keeps the city eternal and perfect. None of the future denizens of Diaspar know how any of it works because they don't have to. It takes care of itself.

    *The golden age of sci-fi when one could gloss with abandon. :)
     
  7. KaTrian
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    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Watched this as well. It was depressing, but answers quite a few of the OP's questions. I hate it when reality bitch slaps the lofty ideas I get with T.Trian: "what if everyone except a chosen few disappeared overnight" -scenario turns to crap because nuclear reactors would make many areas uninhabitable, so whoever survived, better live in friggin' Papua New Guinea if they don't want to get all cancerous.

    Anyhow, after 1000 years... how much would the people even have information about us? We store so much info on computers, and that stuff would be gone! And how have humans changed? A thousand years ago we were quite a bit shorter. Will we be bigger? More food and a more oxygen-rich atmosphere might cause that. Have our spines finally adapted to walking (probably not)? Have our brains changed? Who's at the top of the food-chain? In a way, a thousand years is a long time, on the other hand it's not. It's an interesting concept.

    Careful with the magic though. If you use it to fix inconsistencies or to make the world suitable for your needs, that might turn off some readers.
     
  8. fallenn
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    fallenn Member

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    Thank you for your replies! :)

    Well in my case, the people would have quite limited knowledge about their world's history, because their leaders hide it from them. In my story human kind of more or less overpowered and basically people have no idea that there had ever been a period of time when they were free to explore the world and practice science. Their knowledge about the world history is mostly based on hazy legends.
    And about the 'material proof' (computers, cars, power plants, cities etc), it'll all be quite systematically destroyed and after so many years, time will more or less 'perfect' the process so there won't be that much left.

    I've still yet to decide whether this world I'm writing about would be based on the Earth that we now live in, or is it just another world that seems rather similar but is still not the same. I'm guessing that I'll end up with the last one since it gives me more freedom to 'do as I like' with it. Still it would share many similarities.

    Ooh also. I've been meaning to ask whether is sounds too stupid if in the story the race of horses would be almost completely wiped out and therefore replaced with some other herd animal, with zebras for example. I was wondering that even though now a zebra may not be a perfect substitute for a horse, after years of breeding things might be different.
     
  9. KaTrian
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    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Zebras would have to be bred somehow, yeah, cos nowadays their backs aren't strong enough for riding and of course there's the whole wild animal thing... like having a lion for a pet, right? Why do you want zebras? If you want striped horses, you could just write there that humans have come up with a striped horse breed. Zebras and horses can be crossbred, can't remember what it's called... hebra? Zorse? ;D In any case, if you do the alternate Earth thing (well... you have magic, so that's kind of like a given), they could very possibly have striped horses (or whatever tamable, striped animals with hooves) :)
     
  10. fallenn
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    fallenn Member

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    Yeah crossbreeding crossed my mind and that was the other option too, since zebras are quite small and as you said, not that suitable for riding. But I read that some people do ride zebras, even though their back really is too weak to carry a full-grown man. :D And funnily enough Zorses do exist ( this world really has tried everything ) but like all hybrids, it's sterile. :D
    It might just be that I'll end up creating a whole new specie which is a mix of horses and other animals. Actual horses would be still almost extinct after series of unfortunate events...

    But ooops it's starting to get a little off-topic so I'll just add this here: What do you think would happen to cities that will be completely underwater.
    I think that modern buildings wouldn't last nearly as long as ancient ruins that we see now cause the building materials are so much different. I got to think about this since I realized that the leaders in my story wouldn't be bothered to clear the bottom of the ocean, since none of the regular people would be expected to get there at any point.
     
  11. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Primitive markings on horses is still something that crops up now and again, so the genes for it are very much present. Stripiness is something that all equines seem to dig as regards coloring. One need only look at Przewalski's Horse or Koniks to see this. Given that modern thoroughbreds, warm and cold-bloods alike, are really just cultivars, horses left to their own devices would quickly settle on a more stable and uniform form of body. Look at American Mustangs which all hail from Spanish warmbloods and have a decidedly different build to their ancestors. They've only been breeding for about 500 years. Dogs do the same thing. No matter what breeds start the mix of a wild population of domestic dogs, they always eventually come to a medium sized, short-coated dog with a tail that has a distinct upward curve. Always. Everywhere. That's just nature doing her thing and picking what works over what humans want. A thousand years of horses set free could easily result in a population that harkens back to a time before those silly naked monkeys started taking everything over. ;)
     
  12. maskedhero
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    maskedhero Active Member

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    The question that is bugging me has to be...motivation. What motivated people, in this world, to abdicate technology and live off the land? What about the millions who starved when the grocery store system ended? When refrigeration gave out? If this was a CHOICE, what cause it? If it was a disaster, what caused it?

    After 1,000 years, there might not be much left. A good post-apocalyptic short story that deals with a similar situation is Stephen Vincent Benet's "By the Waters of Babylon."

    As to what would happen to cities...I'd imagine looting by people for valuables would take away the obvious things. Decay, plants, water, rain, and animals would all leave their marks. The cities would be hard to discern after 1,000 years. You could probably see tarmac in some places though, especially in deserts, which wouldn't have as much churn.
     
  13. maskedhero
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    maskedhero Active Member

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    Also...Zebras can't be domesticated. At least according to Jared Diamond.
     
  14. DefinitelyMaybe
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    DefinitelyMaybe Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think it's interesting to compare the fictional rejection of technology in this scenario with the real-life rejection of medical technology we're seen in parts of the population in the western. Where modern medicine and medical practice is rejected and abandoned in favour of old-fashioned witch-doctory dressed up. E.g. homeopathy being adopted and vaccines rejected. This is topical in the UK with some diseases that had fallen to very low levels coming back again due to the popular rejection of the MMR vaccine by a large slice of the population. I think considering a much wider rejection of technology leading to social collapse sounds a very valid way of covering this rejection of technology by magnifying it. Perhaps to a degree that is unrealistic in reality, but of course exaggeration is a known tool in fiction. '1984' anyone?
     
  15. maskedhero
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    maskedhero Active Member

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    The MMR thing is fascinating, and horrible at the same time. Quackery continues in medicine, and has for a long time. In trying to think of specific examples of society rolling back on technology though, I'm stumped. Small groups sometimes roll back (islanders descendants losing technology over time), but usually we move forward. The hardest part of any transition would be in agriculture though.

    An organic, small farming model would imply the deaths of millions. To do so willingly would be quite troubling.
     
  16. DefinitelyMaybe
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    DefinitelyMaybe Contributing Member Contributor

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    People being against preservatives in their food is another example of anti-technology sentiment and actions. Also, resistance to genetic modification of crops. Anti-artificial sweetener claims can be way over the top. In my opinion, none of these are as clear as the rejection of medical technology we see nowdays, in terms of strength of rejection and evidence that the medical technology is overall a benefit. I think there's a fair bit of reality to build the fictional larger scale rejection on. But I agree with you that it's not yet sufficiently clear in the fiction why this happened.
     
  17. Scot McPhie
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    Last edited: Aug 31, 2014
  18. Audiomeleska
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    Audiomeleska New Member

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    The Genesis of Shannara Trilogy by Terry Brooks has a world without technology. In his book it is due to war.

    For more thought on why people may reject technology, you might check out The Betrayal by Techology with Jacques Ellul. You can find it on YouTube. It's pretty slow and about an hour long, but it's interesting.
     
  19. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Very true. Funny how it's the mundane things that are really the crux, aye? The number of people who live in areas that are not arable, or who simply live in concentrations so great that the physical space they occupy would never support them even if it were arable is staggering. Add to this the tiny number of individuals (when compared to the total populace of the Earth) who even have the knowledge of subsistance farming.
     
  20. CrimsonReaper
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    CrimsonReaper Active Member

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    How much time has passed?

    If it has been a thousand years than good luck finding anything unless someone somewhere is actively cleaning up the ruins. Even the strong buildings built today will have collapsed without maintenance. In a few centuries most of the cities would have decayed into dust and twisted metal to be eroded away or covered up by weather. Roads? Even this thickest will have been split apart by tremors or plants/tree roots.
     
  21. ithestargazer
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    ithestargazer Active Member

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    Going back to your original question, I don't think there would be much left of the world as we know it. Unlike previous centuries, we no longer build things to last. The materials we use are more temporary in nature and we live as though everything is replaceable. Biodegradable materials would mean many artifacts of current humanity would be lost and I'm guessing nature would be pretty persistent in wiping evidence out over that period of time. If technology was abandoned at some point, it's likely that it was either destroyed by people or by nature.

    What you have to be thinking about is the future world. What do roads look like, if any? Where do people live? Are there hospitals? Where are schools located? Who runs the government? How do you they enforce strict information control without technology? What role do your characters play in this world? Etc, etc.

    I have this image in my mind of your MC digging in some mossy ruins and finding an old piece of technology and turning it on, so beginning their journey.
     
  22. Daggers
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    Daggers Member

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    You should check out Prince of Thorns (and sequel King of Thorns) by Mark Lawrence. It's pretty much the setting you are envisaging.
     
  23. The Peanut Monster
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    The Peanut Monster Senior Member

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    As with all of these types of books (post-apocalyptic and dystopian too), I think to understand what the world looks like, you need to understand how, why, and when the change happened. Was it a centrally mandated decision? Or did people start rejecting technology of their own accord? If so, did states/companies fight it? Was there a war? Did some resource catastrophe occur? For instance, if it was a resource shortage issue, maybe cities were plundered, but there were safe/protected zones which is why some cities remain untouched. This is the part of world designing that I love (think of it as mythology building)!
     
  24. jmhoffer
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    jmhoffer Contributing Member

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    For a good look at a modern society willingly giving up technology, read 'Fallen Angels' by Larry Niven, Jerry Pournelle and Michael Flynn. Since I can't post links, Google 'fallen angels sci fi' for more info.

    Honestly one of the best books I've ever read.

    Life After People gives you an extremely good view of a stark reality; 1000 years after we're gone, there will be little to no trace of modern humanity. An alien civilization visiting our planet - or even a new civilizations springing up much later - would have no idea that our modern technology had ever existed. When you think about it, there is every possibility that our planet has had advanced civilizations prior to ours. We would have no way of ever knowing. I think it has, due to several completely unexplainable phenomena that humans have run into.

    My advice would be to have this leadership of yours maintain advanced technology in limited capacity.
     
  25. Darkjester79
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    Wow civilization without technology. That's a scary thought. After a 1000 years, there would be almost nothing that remains of any city that was built with modern materials, skyscrapers would fall over in a few short centuries with no maintainence, same goes for subway tunnels, walkways and roads etc.... In that amount of time you wouldn't even be sure there was a city there in the first place. Information would be scace as almost everything is stored on computers nowadays. infrastructure, power grid anything. Also is it a slow turn away from tech or sudden? If it was a gradual turning away it would probably mean less deaths and issues but a sudden one.....well we have all seen the movies.
     

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