How to Write About the Near Future

One of my favorite writers, Charles Stross, writes science fiction that takes place in the near future. It's a weird, alternate future, but it still involves places and events that will be happening in the next one or two years. This is a strange challenge, because no one can predict the future, so whatever you write rapidly becomes outdated. He writes (much more eloquently than I can) about this challenge here: Dude You Broke the Future.

I too am writing a book that will take place around our current time. The quick synopsis of my book is:

Ordinary Indian-American man fighting severe depression and anxiety suddenly gets attached to a tiny dragon that mimics his every emotion. Also, everyone else has an animal like this too. People can now instantly tell how their friends and neighbors are feeling all the time. Lots of strangeness and hijinks and lowjinks ensue.

You may notice that nowhere in this description is coronavirus mentioned, or Trump, or Brexit. Those are huge, crazy things that have changed everything about our world. So what do I do with them?


1) Set the book in the immediate present, but in an alternate world where Trump and coronavirus never happened. I'd have to imagine what this alternate world would look like. Also, I think I would be incredibly jealous of everyone who got to live there. As an author, you want your characters to suffer, you don't want to be jealous of them. Right? It's not just me, right?

2) Set the book in the immediate present, but add the coronavirus and Trump and Brexit as a little bit of icing on top. No thank you. I have spent enough time thinking about these things in my current life. I do not need to add this to my fantasy.

3) Set the book in the near future. The coronavirus pandemic is happily resolved (I hope, please god, I hope!). I just need to predict the next few years of history somewhat accurately or look like a fool when people read my book in five years. Well, you're reading my blog, obviously I'm okay looking like a fool.

4) Set the book in the alternate recent past. Honestly, this sounds pretty appealing. I might just do this.

What do you guys think? Let me know in the comments.