I just read an interesting article from io, 9 Scientific Breakthroughs That Killed Science Fiction Subgenres. An interesting survey that touches a range of interesting stuff, from the lack of Martian Civilization to the absence of any Mu Continent on Earth.
I admit, I never heard of polywater, but I remember the food pill. But this is the one that is most striking to me:
There used to be a a massive trope in science fiction about computers running out of memory. William Gibson’s Neuromancer has three megabytes of RAM being enough to kill for. Johnny Mnemonic has a character trading his own long-term memory for the ability to carry 80Gb-160Gb of data in his head. 320 causes seizures and headaches.
Now, that’s a massive sci-fi story right there for a low-tech part of the galaxy… like the Empty Quarter. Or, use Dune’s Mentats if you prefer breeding instead.