Created By: Dalillama on November 27, 2013 Last Edited By: Dalillama on December 1, 2013
Nuked

Cell Phone Free Future

Cyber Punk or far future settings with no or very few cellphones

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Trope
A subcategory of Technology Marches On, this describes high-tech, futuristic settings where cellular phones (or equivalent portable communicators) are either nonexistent or very rare. Communication is via pay phones (often videophones) to make calls and pay terminals or cybercafes to access the Net. The phone booths or kiosks often combine these functions.

Examples

Film
  • Blade Runner takes place in the year 2019. It has pay Video Phones in public but no one has a cell phone.
  • The Fifth Element also has pay Video Phones (one of which Zorg uses to dispose of a minion), and audio/video pickups on literal bugs, but no cell phones in sight.

Literature
  • Larry Niven's Known Space stories include teleportation booths and flashlight lasers, but communication is by wall installed videophones.
  • S. Andrew Swann's Moreau Series features video phones, wallet computers, and an internet, but there is no wireless connectivity until the last book. In Specters of the Dawn, a barfight leaves a thug seriously injured. His friend runs down the street to a phone booth to call an ambulance.
  • Similarly, William Gibson's Sprawl Trilogy features, among other things, an AI based in a space station, which is limited to contacting people by ringing payphones as they pass by.
  • In the 2060 Oxford protrayed in Connie Willis' Blackout there are only landline phones. There is no explanation given, and the book was published in 2010.
Community Feedback Replies: 14
  • November 27, 2013
    gallium
    This is Zeerust
  • November 27, 2013
    Dalillama
    It is a sub sub trope of Zeerust, via Technology Marches On, yes. But videophones and flying cars are considered separate subtropes, for instance.
  • November 27, 2013
    gallium
    Video phones and flying cars are tropes because they are deliberately used as "this is the future!" signifiers. The absence of cell phones in a time setting where one would expect people to have cell phones is Zeerust.
  • November 27, 2013
    zarpaulus
    • Shadowrun has been adapting to real life technological advances with each edition, the first edition didn't have cell phones for instance but the current fourth edition has everyone using what amount to smartphones with Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality attachments.
  • November 28, 2013
    Arivne
    Created an Examples section, Namespaced and italicized work names, divided examples by media.

    Each of the OP examples is a Zero Context Example.
  • November 29, 2013
    zarpaulus
  • November 30, 2013
    Dalillama
    Added some context to the examples, along with the suggestion of the Sprawl Trilogy. Removed the tabletop games, as checking GURPS Cyberpunk again reveals that it's not an example. I may have been thinking of GURPS Cyberworld, but I can't find my copy of that right now and I haven't got a copy of Cyperpunk 2020 anymore to verify that one.
  • November 30, 2013
    zarpaulus
    You might need to work on your formatting a little.
  • November 30, 2013
    Dalillama
    I'm used to checking that in preview.
  • November 30, 2013
    DracMonster
    I was thinking this was People Sit On Chairs at first, like trying make a trope out of medieval literature that didn't include predictions of moon landings or ipads. But then I realized Star Trek had personal communicators back in the 60s, so I guess not predicting some sort of cellphone equivalent was actually a bit short-sighted.

    I would specifically make exempt any works that have an equivalent device, even if its not actually a phone per-se.

  • November 30, 2013
    zarpaulus
    Hey, does anyone have a first or second edition Shadowrun rulebook? I know that it was first published in 1989 and that my third edition rulebook has cellphones, while fifth edition has Comm Links that are essentially smartphones with the capabilities of desktops.
  • November 30, 2013
    Dalillama
    My copy of Shadowrun second edition has portable phones in 'walkie-talkie', wrist, and earbud models.
  • November 30, 2013
    Arivne
    Film
  • December 1, 2013
    SKJAM
    • In the 2060 Oxford protrayed in Connie Willis' Blackout There are only landline phones. There is no explanation given, and the book was published in 2010.
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