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.
- 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.
- 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.