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All of the main Fallout lore (1, 2, 3, and New Vegas) is 1950’s-esque. The nuclear war that destroyed the world did not occur until 2077. What caused the culture to stay static for that roughly 120-year period?

I know about the lack of transistors, but that doesn’t explain everything.

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  • Could it be that we are used to culture changing rapidly but in fact due to radio/tv and very improved transportation those of us born after ww2 experienced faster cultural change than previous generations? I believe (perhaps wrongly) that people in 1700 did not live much differently than people in 1600 but think how different your life is from someone's born in 1923. Just one example: no national hwy system in usa until 1950s.
    – releseabe
    Sep 27, 2023 at 2:55

3 Answers 3

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The Fallout universe is intended to be a purely fictional representation of what people in the 1950s thought the future was going to look like. As such, there's no "explanation" for why culture stayed that way other than that's how people in the 50's lived:

The Fallout world is much like Torg - physics and natural laws are not the same as in our universe, but are based instead on 50s sensibilities and pulp era comics - the Fallout universe is what people in the 50s believed the future would be (with a lot of nuclear warheads dropped on it).

(The Fallout Bible, Part 9.)

The Fallout setting was heavily influenced by a 1950's science fiction anthology called the Worlds of Tomorrow.

There were two major differences between the history of the "real world" and the Fallout universe, one of which you've already hit on:

  • In the Fallout universe, the transistor was never discovered, and
  • Atomic fusion, particularly portable atomic fusion, was perfected.

Pre-war Fallout is a vision of what would have happened without the miniaturization allowed by transistors, meaning most of the electronic advances of the 70s forward could not have happened. Would we have the same kind of music if there were no synthesizers, turntables, guitar effects pedals, CDs, iPods, etc? What would cars look like if everything running them was still big and mechnical? Fallout is Black Isle's attempt to guess what that might be.

Post-war Fallout is essentially what people during the "Red Scare" thought the world would be like if there was a nuclear war in the 1950s, it just didn't happen in-universe until 2077.

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  • Impressive answer. I get the whole retro-futurism thing, so I think what bothers me the most is the music. Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin were 50s stars, but the events of New Vegas are 2281, so I would think new music/other artists would exist.
    – user3235
    Feb 26, 2013 at 22:34
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    @user3235 I think there are hints or snippets of "later" cultural ideas but, in theory, none of that survived the war. If it helps, consider what would happen today if the only culture that survived a nuclear war was the stuff that hard-core survivalists liked :)
    – KutuluMike
    Feb 26, 2013 at 22:51
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    It's coldwarpunk!
    – Junuxx
    Feb 27, 2013 at 17:12
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    In one of the DLCs there's music made by raiders. Mar 7, 2017 at 17:22
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    Just a note - there are hints that the transistor has been invented just before the war, around 2023 (according to wiki) the famous chip that Mr House was planning to use was transistor based.
    – Yasskier
    Nov 30, 2017 at 20:34
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if it helps to justify things, i can probably assume that somewhere along the line the culture was deliberately stagnated as part of various possible social experiments done by the government during wartime and continued on into the vaults. i dont think any of the vaults were equipped for handling more creative minds. after all, there was only one single vault dedicated to holding the most talented wartime musicians and artists who were then promptly subjugated to brainwashing experiments while the rest of the other vaults were only outfitted with basic essentials and whatever was needed for each respective social experiments.

and then after exiting the vaults, and giving credit to the hypocritical brotherhood of steel, almost every postwar society is going to be some form of cult or tribe based off what the survivors of the vaults were conditioned to, and lacking ways to express creativity due to reasons, either immediately degenerate into tribals and cultists or attempt to imitate and appropriate whatever they immediately find on the surface.

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It stayed the same for 120 years because the explosion destroyed almost everything and the radiation caused most thing not to work. when the people of the commonwealth learned this they tried to make more advanced tech as to try and make life better but they had to use thing that were so old that they were basically broken from age and do it with little or no electricity they didn't get very far seaming how the only got weapons and armor done. and even then they found some parts that weren't destroyed and used that to speed up some of their work.

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    Is this headcanon? Or do you have a source that supports this?
    – amflare
    Jan 31, 2020 at 18:20
  • yes I have a source called the game Jan 31, 2020 at 18:24
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    Then supply references from the game - quotes, examples, etc.
    – T.J.L.
    Jan 31, 2020 at 18:42
  • there are now quotes but if you play the games ( at least the 4 and 3 ) you can find a ton of efidence Jan 31, 2020 at 20:06
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    I'm afraid that's not how Stack Exchange works - if you post an answer, it's your responsibility to provide enough evidence to back it up. People shouldn't have to play hundreds of hours of Fallout just to verify whether your answer is correct or not.
    – F1Krazy
    Jan 31, 2020 at 22:02

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