Prices March On
Prices in works set in the future become ridiculously-low due to real life inflation


(permanent link) added: 2012-05-17 13:26:08 sponsor: SharleeD (last reply: 2012-07-27 17:31:42)

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Barring drastic economic upheaval or hyperinflation, prices of goods and services tend to rise gradually over time. In works set in the future, their creators don't always take this phenomenon into account; even when they do, they often badly misjudge how much more expensive various commodities will be Twenty Minutes into the Future. Over time, Real Life prices increase until they exceed those in the work, eventually making the work's cost-figures seem ridiculously low and outdated.

Contrast Ridiculous Future Inflation, in which prices in the work become higher than in reality. Often a subtrope of Zeerust. Fictional Currency or We Will Spend Credits in the Future may be employed to avert this trope. Could be justified as Translation Convention applied to prices.

Examples:

  • In the Shadowrun Verse's original timeline, complied in 1989, the earthquake that destroys Manhattan is said to have caused 20 million dollars in damage. 2nd Edition increased this to 200 billion dollars, which still seems far too low in retrospect.

  • In 1989's The Barsoom Project, sequel to Dream Park, Harmony describes how Cowles Industries nearly went bankrupt after a couple of 90 million dollar films bombed and a failed theme park cost it 250 million over ten years. Cowles is that Verse's Expy of The Walt Disney Company, only much bigger, meaning it could easily cover such losses at today's prices. $90 million doesn't seem very high for a film budget now, and a quarter-billion is nowhere near enough for a theme park of the size Harmony implies.

  • Lampshaded in Austin Powers when Dr. Evil, still assuming 1960s prices, ransoms the world for "the sum... OF 1 MILLION DOLLARS", only to be laughed at by the world leaders.

  • Early on in the history of the Legion of Super Heroes, 30th-century teenager Chuck Taine pays fifty cents for a bottle of soda pop. Ironically, a reader wrote in to ask about the high price, and the editor explained about Ridiculous Future Inflation, never suspecting it was still an under-estimate.

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