Tips for scifi on avoiding zeerust

Zeerust is a term defined as concepts that looked futuristic when they were produced in fiction, but that to a modern audience seem old fashioned.

Some examples would be women not being allowed in positions of power, or the USA and Soviet Union still in a cold war in 2185.

My tip? Don’t ever give tech specs! R2D2 still seems futuristic because there aren’t droids wheeling around with his capabilities. But when Data from TNG is said to have an amazing memory capacity in terabytes, a capacity I could now purchase for a couple thousand dollars it dates the material.

My favourite example of this is the “3 megabytes of hot RAM” in Neuromancer.

For that matter, never say the year if you can possibly avoid it, or if you absolutely must give a year, put it well after the end of your expected readers’ lifespans, and preferably on a new calendar. We don’t have HAL yet, but that’s OK; maybe we will someday. But we certainly didn’t have HAL by 2001.

Why avoid it? Norman Spinrad’s Russian Spring postulates a future where the Soviet Union is the world’s biggest superpower, under a slightly reformed old-line communist government. It came out in 1991, just after the Soviet Union dissolved.

But it’s still a pretty good novel.

Isaac Asimov famously wrote a story where he predicted that Mt. Everest would never be climbed. It appeared in print six months after Hillary and Tenzing got to the top.

Petabytes. 800 quadrillion bits is 100 petabytes, which equals about 97,656 terabytes. And remember, it is not the memory size itself but the positrinic pathways that determine his computational abilities.

Besides, science fiction (like all literature) is about the time it was written, despite having the trappings of “the far-flung future world of 1967.” SF writers rarely intend to be prophets although that is part of the game.

Zeerust adds to the charm of the older stories, much as Dicken’s language fills out his novels.

You would think they had learned that. But Oblivion has a manned mission to Titan in just a few years. With suspended animation. And yet we barely have a space program so its not looking good.

If story is intentionally a “what if” or alternate future it is pretty much excluded from zeerust.

I’m not saying it doesn’t add to the charm, lets say tips <if> you want to avoid it as author/film makrer :slight_smile:

Don’t postulate almost unimaginable technological advances in the near future. No, we will not have time travel, interstellar flight or antigravity in thirty years; or fifty, or probably even a century from now.

Write for the audience you have now, not for the audience you might have in 30 years.

There’s no avoiding zeerust, because your material is going to be technologically dated as much by what you don’t include as by what you do. Look at how many older works are dated now because their authors didn’t imagine cell phones or the internet.

Technology will not go the way you portray - the things you show will not happen (at least not in the way you show them), things you don’t will.

Politics and society will laugh at your puny attempts to predict their flows.

Fashion…there’s a good chance fashion will straight up sabotage you if you get popular enough to influence trends, taking your ‘futuristic’ looks, and making them ‘current trends’ and thus quickly dated.

There is one way to avoid zeerust. Set your story in the present, don’t make any aesthetic changes. Change only what is the point of the story. Your story will still become dated, but it will become dated in the same way as any other contemporary story, rather than zeerusting out.

“It’s got a 28.8 bps modem!”

There is a certain charm to old movies like Phantom Planet that had a spaceship captain noting the year 1980 in the ships log.

Zeerust is a town in South Africa

I wonder how they went from that to Sci-fi tropes?

I think they wanted to make the world of the flashbacks and the ruins of earth recognizable, both for budget reasons and so as not to lose the audience.

I believe it was one of the definitions in The Meaning of Liff.

That’s what TV Tropes gives as the origin.

I will always love the moment in the Lensman book (one of the first ones - I forget) where the navigator whips out his slide rule to figure out the course to the next galaxy over.

Well, you could always rewrite your books from time to time like Jerrold Friedman.

Zeerust never sleeps.