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Charlie Stross On Constructing A Working Near-Future

From Charlie’s Diary: Thoughts from the coal face:

“You were one year old when the Cold War ended. You were thirteen when the war on terror broke out, and eighteen or nineteen when Tony Blair was forced to resign as Prime Minister. You graduated university owing £35,000 in student loans, at a time when the price of entry into the housing market in the UK was over £150,000 (about 4-5 times annual income; the typical age of first time buyers was 35 and rising by more than 12 months per year). Unless you picked the right career (and a high-earning one at that) you can’t expect to ever own your own home unless your parents die and leave you one. On the other hand, you can reasonably expect to work until you’re 70-75, because the pension system is a broken mess. The one ray of hope was that your health and life expectancy are superior to any previous generation — you can reasonably expect to live to over a hundred years, if you manage to avoid succumbing to diseases of affluence…”

Published in people I know


  1. el_randall el_randall

    Sound like California to me.

  2. Steven Hutton Steven Hutton

    I was 4 when the cold war ended. The Berlin wall coming down is one of my first memories. This is my future. YIKES.

  3. el_randall, totally.
    All i could think was this sounds like my life here in Santa Clara, CA and i was 13 when the Cold War Ended.

  4. bob bob

    Sorry kids, but your generation is actually the first to experience a declining life expectancy (in the U.S., at least, that’s true across all income levels). Being the first generation to grow up eating corn syrup and hydrogenated fats on a regular basis seems to have permanently fucked your metabolisms. So you don’t even have that bright spot- you’re screwed completely.

  5. Citybeatnik Citybeatnik

    Yeah, that little cave off in the mountains where I can live my life as a hermit and train a squirrel army is sounding better and better…

  6. Ken Ken

    My dad sat me down in front of the tv when the Berlin Wall came down, and told me history was being made *right now*, in front of my very eyes.

    I don’t remember it.

  7. Jonathan Visminas Jonathan Visminas


    It should also be noted that we Americans pay the most for health care. I don’t recall the specfic numbers, but it may well have been twice the next highest country.


  8. Anon Anon

    Hmm. I was born in 1989. Since I plan on going into English…well, I’m pretty much fucked, eh?

  9. My first vivid memory is of the Challenger exploding. Wonder where that puts me. This is all Generation X forte. Culture accelerated beyond control, and we’re not even allowed to smoke anymore.

  10. The thing about massive events like Challenger exploding or the Berlin Wall coming down (other than that both of these things happened in my teens… you people are young) is that it’s all very easily turned into personal historical bookmarks. But every generation has these… the one before mine had the Moon landing. I’m sure I seem hopelessly young to someone else for only having been born during Nixon.

  11. Laramie Laramie

    bob/ Jonathan Visminas: someone has to pay the insurance/pharmaceutical companies. If it werent for the price of American healthcare, the pharmaceutical companies would have to rely on standard market economy and the vast amount of govenment aid to help them pay their CEOs the absurd amounts of money they need to rob us blind.

  12. MIR MIR

    but hey,

    We can still go out and blow 50 bucks/quid on mcdonalds and budweiser all around the world…

    That’s gotta count for something. plus we can shoot hippies cause it’s all their fault…

    Or. We can just stop living in over-populated shitholes that are too close to faultlines and flood waters…

  13. DensityDuck DensityDuck

    My first real memory of world events was the Reagan-Carter debate. I was four, and I asked my mother wat a “debate” was. She replied that Jimmy Carter would get up on stage and say that we shouldn’t build any more B-1 bombers. Then Ronald Reagan would get up on stage and say that we should build lots of B-1 bombers. I told her that she should vote for Ronald Reagan because B-1 bombers were really cool.

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