Stephanie Fox has prepared for io9 and interesting chart showing how science fiction futures changed over time.
She sampled over 250 random works of science fiction – books, comics, but also movies and TV series, all created between 1880 and 2010. Then the data was divided into works set in the near future (0-50 years from the time the work came out), middle future (51-500 years) and far future (501+ years).
There are a few moments in history when all futures are almost equally represented, notably in the 1920s and the 1960s. Those are both periods of liberalization in the United States, when social roles were changing rapidly and the economy was booming. Perhaps these eras of rapid change turned people’s eyes to both the near and far future. Interestingly, both eras were followed by periods of economic downturn that led to opposite effects: In the 1930s, we saw a spike in far future stories (indeed, the most of any era in our data); and in the 1970s we saw a spike in near future stories.
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