The droughts of 2035-2048 have passed, and the desert has reclaimed much of what was once the north of China. You are a scholar sipping cocktails in an oasis formerly known as the Forbidden City. Each quarter, you are allowed to check out a limited quantity of books from the Xinhua archives. Your research this year revolves around readings and translations from the month of November 2006. You are amazed at how obsessed with politics, war, and money everyone was, when environmental disaster was staring them in the face.
NORTH AMERICA 2106:
The Credit Card Wars of 2019-2025, 2031-2033, 2048-2073, and 2098-2105 have passed, but the battles demolished much of what was once the northeast seaboard. You are a government agent quaffing uppers in Ceasefire Zone Alpha, formerly known as the Capitol Mall. Each quarter, a limited quantity of printed materials are sent to you from what used to be the Northern Amazon Repository, for safe keeping, and to help you relax. This year a bunch of graphic novels published in 2006 arrives. You are amazed at how obsessed USians were with blacking over the nipples in European comic books, when personal debt disaster was staring them in the face.
The great Caste Uprisings of 2051-2092 have passed, with the truck driver caste finally agreeing to let someone else "have a go". Widespread cricket has broken out in celebration. Much of the population lives on land that is frankly frighteningly radioactive, and strange new breeds of human are being found, blurring the old caste lines. Now there's touchable, untouchable, and The Glowing, who have taken over at the top of the table. You are a journalist drinking dubious lassis in an oasis once known as the Mumbai Hilton. Each quarter, as a member of the journalist caste, a limited quantity of books are made available to you from the national library. This year, you get a pile of old newspapers from November 2006. You are amazed at how rude the Australians were when they won cricket games, even then.
The Mafia Purges of 2020-2100 have passed, and the Communists have once again come to power. They were the only bastards hard enough to take on the Russian Mob, and much of the country is state-owned once again. You are a hit-man knocking back oily potato vodka in an oasis once known as Boris Yeltsin's dacha on the Black Sea coast. Each quarter, you submit your chit for a limited quantity of books from the national library, to keep your cover as a freelance writer intact. Your selection this year is from November 2006. You are amazed at how little Russia has changed. But before you can start writing your article for the local party circular on the Inexorable Forward Momentum of the Russian Peoples, there's knock on the door...
SE ASIA 2106:
The Great Forest Fires of 2100 have passed, and the lungs of the Earth's eastern hemisphere (the great forests of Indonesia, Myanmar, and Laos) have only partially regrown. Everyone you know buys oxygen in small bottles like they used to buy water. You are a trained naturalist downing monastic beers in an oasis once known as East Timor. Each quarter, you are allowed to ship in a small quantity of revolutionary digital books, paper having been banned in the wake of the fires. Your quota this year has been taken up by a couple of memstiks containing environmental data from November 2006. You're trying and find out what kinds of things the government should be regrowing in the forests. Alas, in 2006 we were obsessed with the things that trees become after millions of years underground, rather than the living, green growing kinds.
The AIDS Wars of 2020- are still in progress, but in the war's wake, the world's rich have started buying holiday homes. You are a former child soldier sniffing brown-brown in an oasis once known as Sun City. You retire to your squalid hotel room and find a mouldering magazine under your bed; a newspaper from November 2006. You are dismayed to discover the roots of the now widespread belief that AIDS can be cured with a dose of carrot juice and virgin-raping, although the order of application of these two panaceas is sometimes debated nowadays.
The threat from Global Warming has mostly passed -- at least for continental Europe. The UK went underwater years ago, but nobody misses it. All that really happened "on the continent" is that the weather got better. The government of the United States of Europe are celebrating 50 years of union with a big fucking party. Much of the world's intelligentsia are staying away in protest, including you. You are a FreeMind injecting the thought-enhancing drug known as "Gold" in an oasis once known as the country of New Zealand. Each quarter, you get a shipment of books and periodicals from "back home". This time, you've ordered a bunch of dusty old tomes from November 2006. Included in the pile of books are some old, yellowing printouts from a website called "Everything 2". There's a moment of pleasant, movie irony as you allow yourself to look back at some -- what did they call them? -- ah, yes, "noder" who is looking forward, right now, at you.
Part of SciFiQuest 2106
Yeah, hi. This is the author speaking. It's pretty clear that a good percentage of the people who have read this simply don't understand it. At all. So in an effort at "clearing things up" I'm willing to answer a few questions.
1. What's it about? Well, it's not about "things that I think might happen". It's not "sly backhanders at current societal mores". There are no radical ideas here, at all, except perhaps one. This is about the foolishness of any sort of prediction. Arthur C. Clarke gets satellites right, and so we forget all the spectacular misses and hail sci-fi for its predictive qualities?! That's just silly. This is more Choose Your Own Adventure than The Future: By Me. Which of these seems likely to you? Which offends? Now that's the point.
2. Why so many crass jokes? Just a spoonfull of sugar makes the medicine go down. Etc.
3. Well, why didn't you just say that? I'm sorry if what you're after is a Reader's Digest abridged novel, because what this actually is, is a short story. Yes, I know it's in the daylog section. Sorry, I don't think e2 will be around in 100 years, so I don't think this will be "in the way". Yes, I'm a bit of a constant disappointment like that. Mea culpa.