Technology does not necessarily advance in Tech Levels
. Instead, the present of an Alternate Timeline
may be more advanced than our world in some areas, and yet have the same or less knowledge in other fields. After all if you have no good metal
, it may be an impassable barrier, or a good reason to learn more about ceramics, and if Aliens Never Invented the Wheel
, for that matter), this doesn't mean they sat on their behinds and couldn't think of anything good. Steam punk
, Punk Punk, and other form of the punk literature and media (not to be confused with the music style known as punk) are well known for this trope although it appears in all forms of sci fi to some extent.
May include Zeppelins from Another World
. If done in an incoherent way, it becomes Schizo Tech
. Sometimes indirectly caused by Zeerust
, as a Sci-Fi
book set in the future becomes a film set in what looks more like an alternate present.
Anime and Manga
- One Piece uses this frequently, having things such as advanced medicine, but no steam powered ships or computers. Instead of phones or televisions living creatures called Telesnails are used to broadcast signals. There are also cola-powered cyborgs and seashells called dials which can store and expel just about anything.
- Naruto has computers, but no cars or guns. Instead jutsu are used. Movie theatres and convenience stores exist though. One area where the Naruto world seems particularly underdeveloped is in transportation since most places are walked or sailed to.
- The internal combustion engine seems to exist, as modern construction equipment has been seen. It's just that people don't seem to use it for transportation.
- Steam Boy features this trope. It takes place in an alternate 19th century where, as the title suggests, steam is the main source of power instead of coal, nuclear, etc. One example of an alternate technology is the steam ball. The father of the protagonist makes steam powered weapons such as the monowheel and is considered this universe's version of Darth Vader.
- In Trinity Blood, airships armed with rayguns are standard equipment for most countries' militaries, but infrared - homing missiles? Software that allows you to write computer programs yourself? That's lost technology from before the apocalypse!
- Similarly, in Last Exile, antigravity generators are common, yet in other respects the setting is almost entirely steampunk, as seen here.
- It's a relatively minor change, but Princess Mononoke has the Tatara clan develop an alternate form of musket apparently based on Chinese cannon long before firearms were ever actually used in Japan.
- In In Time, mankind has had genetic engineering with clinical immortality for over a century, but doesn't seem to have invented the cellphone or the internet yet. Almost all technology is like a few decades before the film was made. (In other words, almost all technology is like when the book the film was based on was written.)
- The film Wild Wild West could be considered an alternate techline and has steam punk technologies such as the steam powered spider mech and non steam punk technologies like the metal collars and saw gun.
- The Mysterious Geographic Explorations of Jasper Morello has an alternate techline, featuring, among other things, steam-powered dirigibles.
- The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen take place in an alternate 1900 where humanity has already created tanks and assault rifles, zeppelins are common and people can become invisible.
- The Prestige has different technology in its universe due to Tesla actually creating devices like a teleportation machine. Or rather, what most people think is a teleportation machine due to the way Angier uses it in his magic act - only he and Tesla know that it's actually a duplication machine.
- A non-alternate-reality example in Iron Sky. The Moon Nazis have advanced in the areas of space travel (anti-gravity), weapons technology (cannons capable of blowing up sizable chunks of a planet), and nuclear fusion (why else would they stockpile Helium-3?). However, their computer technology has stalled at 1940s levels. This is actually a major plot point in that their most powerful computer (the size of a room) can't operate their flagship... but a smartphone can.
- If you count "Somewhere In the 20th Century" as implying an Alternate Universe, Brazil. Their tech is Zeerusty in a Played for Laughs way, for example, there are computers but the monitors are so tiny they must be enlarged with a magnifying glass, ducts are omnipresent, telephones which have to be switched manually, and the "answering machine" telling the characters the office is closed may or may not be some poor guy doing nightshifts reading off a script ("this has not been a recording!"). Of course, it barely works.
- Fringe has an alternate universe with Zeppelins and autopiloted helicopters, while pens are obsolete, but smallpox is still untreatable and has not been eradicated.
- To explain, medical technology in general is greatly ahead of 'our' timeline - gunshot wounds are treated as minor inconveniences - but diseases like smallpox have mutated and become incredibly virulent, so much so that epidemics seem to be a fact of life in the heart of the US. There's a throwaway news story about refugees from Texas affected by one such epidemic.
- Doctor Who travels to an alternate universe Earth where Zeppelins are common, Britain's technology is more advanced than than at home, and science has developed medallions with the power make the wearer cross universes. It's also a universe where the Cybermen, consisting of human brains placed in robotic bodies, were created on this Earth rather than on Mondas like in the main universe.
- A few Sliders episodes involve this. For example, one episode involves a world where antibiotics were never discovered. As such, the world lives in perpetual fear of germs and has developed the means to detect sick people just by passing through a metal detector-like device.
- Another episode has them land on a world with no aluminum (it's not even on the periodic chart, which either means there's a blank spot there, or another element), meaning no long-range air travel. Helicopters were never invented. However, at the end, it's revealed that the US government plans to "invent" long-range airplanes made of kevlar. Naturally, pirates don't want their golden age to end and try to hijack the shipments of the material.
- Real Humans and it's British remake Humans both take place in an alternate present in which all technology is the same, except robotics/A.I. has advanced to where androids (called "hubots" in the original and "synths" in the remake) are commonplace.
- A steam punk game known as Space 1889 takes place in an alternate universe where technology is different from ours. This is because Victorian theories that have been discredited in this universe work in the other universe, leading to a very different techline.
- While GURPS generally uses Technology Levels, some of the settings touch on the fact that divergent tech levels (TL('x'+'y'), where x is the technology level shared with our development, and y is how much farther they've advanced along some alternate line — TL(5+1) is usually Steam Punk, for example), while generally equivalent to the technology level indicated by the sum, tend to have at least somewhat different advantages and disadvantages.
- In the Civilization games, you can advance your tech trees in whatever order you prefer. Some technologies are dependent on each other, but many are not.
- All games in the series feature this. The most obvious examples are caravels and frigates, whose technology is independent of Gunpowder, and yet they are clearly shown using cannons.
- Civilization: Beyond Earth features a "tech web" instead of the typical "tech tree", which allows players to advance in any direction they wish. In fact, the game doesn't limit which main techs a player researches, but it can take a long time, if none of the connecting techs have been researched first. Additionally, researching branch techs requires first researching the main techs. In fact, the central game concept is the three primary research tendencies called "affinities": Purity (defense, terraforming), Supremacy (cybernetics, satellites), and Harmony (genetic engineering, taming local lifeforms). For example, the ultimate unit for a Purity-aligned faction is the LEV Destroyer, a hovering fortress that wouldn't look out of place in Warhammer 40,000; the ultimate Supremacy unit is a Humongous Mecha called ANGEL; the ultimate unit for Harmony is the Xeno Titan. Each affinity also has has a preferred strategic resource: floatstone for Purity, firaxite for Supremacy, and xenomass for Harmony.
- Fallout in spades: They have nuclear propulsion, Power Armor and lasers, but their computers are at the level of computers in the early 80s and they have yet to invent the transistor.
- Pokémon. They have hi-tech tools such as Poké Balls and artificial Mons (Magnemite, Voltorb, Porygon, Kling), but their transportation methods are terrible. The world has a few ships and trains (most of which are "Magnet Trains") and it's supposed to take place in Turn of the Millennium. Of course, this is the world where kids are allowed to have pets that can fly anywhere, travel through seas and work as their bodyguards against wild animals, they probably don't feel like needing too many vehicles.
- Mega Man (Classic) and its sequels take place in a world where intelligent humanoid robots, teleportation, energy weapons and matter replication all exist as early as 2001.