Scifi Writers Have No Sense Of Scale
"A study shows that by 2025 American children will be too obese to ride hoverboards."
- Andrea Bennett at the end of this Onion
News Network short.
: Writing about the Future has always been about taking current trends and assuming they will continue for decades to extreme levels.
One of the current big problems in the United States (and the rest of the developed world) is the growing rate of obesity.
Thus, we have the Big Fat Future — assuming that this trend continues. The new dystopian
future doesn't have people starving to death. No, the average person in the future is too full of lard to move. They survive entirely on fattening processed foods
and move about using some sort of hover technology
. Such settings implicitly assume a degree of Modern Stasis
, as they rely on technological solutions to obesity neither advancing nor becoming more accessible with the passage of time.
This is usually played for either comedy (because fat people are still Acceptable Targets
) or Body Horror
, if not both.
The main character, naturally, has to be attractive
. So he will not be one of these future fat people. He'll be unusually thin for his era, or a robot or an alien or an AI or something.
Contrast with We Will Have Perfect Health in the Future
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Anime and Manga
- This happens in the second story arc of the Galaxy Express 999 manga. The new Big Bad basically conquers Earth by giving everyone all the food they can eat & turning everyone who wasn't cyborged in the first story arc into a hideously fat Gonk. The rest of the galaxy's human population, especially the women remain as impossibly waifish as they are in the rest of Leiji Matsumoto's work, though.
- This also happened a few times on the TV series; In the first instance Tetsuo visited a world where robots did all the work and humans had become obese blobs who become so fat they regularly burst out of their own homes. The primary crux of the plot is a woman who wants to escape the planet with her boyfriend (who is already one of the aforementioned blobs).
- The people of the République Venus from Battle Angel Alita: Last Order have developed into "Humpty-Dumpty" forms due to nanotechnology and limitless surgery.
- The Judge Dredd subculture of "Fatties", most prominently featured in the storyline "The League of Fatties" are over-eaters gone to extremes. The fatties would not have been able to reach the monstrous extremes they did without the supporting technology of the future setting. It should be noted that they aren't so much a result of the future's tech and more they're one of the more persistent mad crazes that sweep the city: the inhabitants of Mega-City One are so bored that seeing just how fat they could make themselves without dying just got started for the hell of it.
- MAD posited a Zeerust future where Western man, relying more and more on wheeled mobility, ends up round-bottomed with vestigial legs. The article may have been written around 1960, and was reprinted in the paperback Three Ring MAD.
- In fact there was a similar story printed in the very first issue in 1952, that traced how humankind became reliant on technology and unable to even use most of their muscles to the first moment a caveman invented the club so that he could club a woman over the head with it and kidnap her.
- Doctor Who Magazine: In "Welcome to Tickle Town", the Doctor and Clara arrive in the Tickle Town amusement park 300 hundred years in the future. Clara comments on the size of most the attendees, hoping that the entire human race doesn't evolve into size XXX-L. It turns out everyone is trapped in the park, unable to leave. "Lifers" are those who have given up hope, eat the munchies (laced with sedatives) and ride the rides all day, becoming obese blobs.
- WALL•E: Everyone on the Axiom lives in space, in low gravity, and spends all their time in hoverchairs eating fatty foods - like liquid pizza. As they also have extremely stubby limbs and digits and wear one-piece jumpsuits, the overall impression is a combination of obesity and infantilism. However, this is not an example of Sci-Fi Writers Have No Sense of Scale; as everything on the Axiom was planned by a Corrupt Corporate Executive, and this was a result of an absolutely carefree lifestyle gone on for too many centuries.
- In a video broadcast from before the Axiom was launched, humans are skinny and live-action. In the video, it's outright stated that spending long periods of time in space will result in bone mass loss. The implication is that centuries in space turned people into fat cartoon characters.
- Robert Rankin's The Witches Of Chiswick takes place in a utopian alternate present where everyone is fat. Except, of course, the main character.
- What's more, obesity is considered attractive, so said main character is looked down on by his peers as a freak. Even his parents think he should run off and join a freak show.
- In one of the timelines of The Green Futures of Tycho, the main character's brother is too obese to move, so he lives in a zero-gravity environment in space.
- Baron Vladimir Harkonnen from the Dune series is an individual example of this, albeit apparently on purpose: he could easily have his fatness corrected medically, he just likes showing off the evidence of his excesses. The prequels retcon this, explaining that his obesity is caused by a non-treatable disease that a Bene Gesserit caused him to contract while he was raping her. This was an Author's Saving Throw.
- In Dougal Dixon's Man After Man, some of the early descendents of humanity are the Hitek: humans so sickly and out of shape that they must spend their entire lives sealed into life-sustaining personal vehicles. This isn't due to poor lifestyle choices, so much as massive numbers of genetic flaws, accumulated over hundreds of years in which natural selection against hereditary illness was suppressed by medical intervention.
- Jack Vance's novella Abercrombie Station involves a zero-G space station where almost everyone is fat, and aesthetics favor it. The heroine, so to speak, who's from Earth, isn't fat (and actually a bit amused about being considered too skinny to be attractive). The main antagonist, a native of the station, isn't fat either. And he's bitter as all hell about it.
- Inverted in Rob Grant's Fat, which satirises the current obsession with obesity, rather than the obesity itself. The main characters are a man who is genetically predisposed to put on weight, in a culture that tells him this is his fault, and a woman who the same culture has made dangerously anorexic.
- Zigzagged in The Moon Maze Game, in which standards of beauty in 2085 have swung the other way, making plumpness desirable in women. Instead of being unhealthy, however, the ideal zaftig woman adheres to a "Fit/Fat" model, in which well-padded curves overlie toned muscles and a blood chemistry maintained at the peak of physiological health.
- In John Varley's The Golden Globe, most people are normal size, and surgery and medicine are advanced enough to keep them that way even if they overeat. But the narrator's uncle has chosen to join a colony who eat, and eat, and eat, and just get larger. He's essentially a human face on a pink whale-thingy, and spends most of his time swimming in a giant reservoir.
- Deconstructed in the Doctor Who Missing Adventures novel Last Man Running, with two colony planets, one fat with upper-class accents (called Twodies) and one thin with working-class accents (called Firsters). The two Twodie police encountered by the Doctor and Leela are casually prejudiced against them, taking from their weight that they are Firsters and viewing their upper-class accents and the Doctor's expensive clothes as tasteless Nouveau Riche pretension.
- Fallout: Nuka Break has the protagonist originating from Vault 10, a Vault that was backed by the sponsorship of the Nuka-Cola corporation and made to test the Eat-O-Matic Food Dispensers made for Vault cafeterias. Combined with a complete lack of exercise equipment installed, the inhabitants grew overweight, with obesity being the social norm. The protagonist, nicknamed "Twig", was the least overweight, and therefore the most picked on prior to leaving the Vault. As a result, he is addicted to Nuka-Cola and takes "fatty" as a compliment.