Parallel draft: Overpopulation Crisis ray guns, the jet packs, and the spaceships. But you need a way of making things seem more 'real', more grounded in reality. How? Up the population by a couple of billions, that's how. The human population is currently at seven and a half billion, and the population has been growing at an increasing rate throughout the last century, but this growth is projected to peter out around between the 9th to the 13th billion barring outside influence as third-world developing countries go through The four stages of demographic transition. It is unlikely that anything short of colonising space or small scale Apocalypse How will really shake the population again. Despite the above, the concept of 'there will be more people in the future' is one that seems self-evident to many readers, and thus the number of people will often vary depending on how far in the future it is. In 20 Minutes into the Future settings, it's often between ten and twenty billion; if it's a few hundred years, expect tens or even hundreds of billions; if thousands, it's often trillions, maybe even quadrillions. How such a large population came to be or is sustained, is rarely addressed, though there's sometimes an in-show justification (often involving colonising other planets and simply needing more people to populate them so a modern society could function). It's popular in Space Operas with their sprawling Space Filling Empires. This trope can easily collide with Science Marches On and Society Marches On, since figures which match this trope in older fiction can these days be not just plausible, but reality. Make Room! Make Room! has seven billion people on Earthnote , while Isaac Asimov's short story "The Winnowing" has humanity starving at sixnote . Often overlaps with Overpopulation Crisis when the enormous population size begins to cause problems.
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Film — Live-Action
- In The Fifth Element, the President of Earth mentions "some 100 billion of my fellow citizens", although these might not all be on Earth.
- Star Wars: Plays with the usual connotations of the trope in that the Star Wars setting as a whole takes place "A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away." Yet this is easy to mistake for taking place in the future with sci-fi tech and City Planets. One such is Coruscant, the capital of the Galactic Republic and later the Galactic Empire, has a population topping a trillion all by itself according to a reference book published prior to The Force Awakens' release.
- Soylent Green (and the Harry Harrison novel that inspired it, Make Room! Make Room!) have a 21st-century New York City populated by 35-40 million people. If that growth is representative of the rest of the planet, that means around 35 billion people live on Earth.
- The Millennial Project: Colonizing The Galaxy in Eight Easy Steps considers the intellectual consequences of living in a society where there are "5 billion billion people". While there would be many problems, such a society could invest vast intellectual resources solving those problems.
- Isaac Asimov
- In Foundation, there are 25 million inhabited planets in the galaxy, and while the total population is said to be quadrillions of people, no exact numbers given. While this means the setting as a whole qualifies, the average inhabited planet doesn't: even if we take "quadrillions" of people to mean "100 quadrillions", this gives each planet a population of 4 billion.
- The planet Trantor is the capital of the Galactic Empire. In Foundation and Empire, the population of administrators alone on the planet is said to be 400 billion. In later stories, Asimov realized how impossible that was and lowered the figure to a more reasonable (?) 40 billion. He also said that its population was fed by the combined output of 20 farm planets.
- "The Last Question" mentions "a trillion, trillion, trillion" people, spread all over the universe.
- The short story "2430 A.D." is about shutting down the last remnants of the last zoo, so that Earth can finally have its perfect, stable society... no animals, no plants except for edible plankton, and as many humans as the planet can support - fifteen trillion.
- Aeon 14: The colony ship GSS Intrepid around which the story revolves has a population/crew of millions all on its own, and individual space stations with populations in the hundreds of billions are described: a 9th millennium 1600-kilometer space station with 150 billion residents is seen as only mildly impressive by protagonist Tanis Richards.
- Robert Silverberg's novel The World Inside is set on Earth in the year 2381, when the population of the planet has reached 75 billion people. Population growth has skyrocketed due to a quasi-religious belief in human reproduction as the highest possible good. Most of the action occurs in a massive three-kilometer high city-tower called Urban Monad (Urbmon) 116. Most of humanity lives in these mammoth thousand-floor skyscrapers arranged in "constellations", where the shadow of one building does not fall upon another. The population is supported by the conversion of all of the Earth's habitable land area not taken up by Urbmons to agriculture.
- Discussed in Stand on Zanzibar (written in 1968, set in 2010). With the world population reaching seven billionnote , society is definitely beginning to feel the stress of the huge population, but, as pointed out in the comment that gave the book its name, you could still fit them all, standing shoulder to shoulder, on the island of Zanzibar.
- In The Starchild Trilogy by Frederik Pohl and Jack Williamson, the population of Earth has reached the thirteen billion mark.
- Warhammer 40,000: Hive cities often reach the tens of billions in population, the vast majority of which are impoverished scavengers feeding on the refuse of the upper atmospheric spires where the nobility lives. Exacerbating this problem is the fact that many hives are the only inhabitable locations on a planet (usually a Death World), and thus have to import gargantuan quantities of food from off world just to meet the bare minimum requirements of most of its population (and since space travel is about as safe as sailing before the invention of the compass, famines are still rampant...). Hive cities are among the Imperial Guard's (which numbers in the trillions) and Space Marines' (most Chapters have at least a thousand warriors, not counting support staff) best recruiting grounds, both in terms of quantity and quality, and press-ganging vast amounts of criminal gangs is one of the more efficient ways of population control.
- EV Nova: All the Auroran capital worlds have populations in the high tens of billions (Heraan approaches 90 billion residents) stuck in large Arcologies.
- In StarCraft, Earth's population is around 23 billion by 2301.
- In Galactic Civilizations a planet's population is limited only by the number and quality of farms can be built on it. Earth has a potential population of 50 billion. Colony Ships and troop transports transfer population in units of a million, and the basic ships can carry 500 of those units.
- Played with in Orion's Arm. The population of "baseline" (not substantially genetically modified) humans falls from 15 billion to 2 billion between 2400 and 2900 A.D., and are considered an Endangered Species in the very far future (c. 10,000 - 20,000 A.D.). However, in that same far future, our genetically modified descendants number in the hundreds of thousands of billions.
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