There are some suggestions that the Lord of the Rings is meant to take place in our own distant past, or rather in a fictionalized version of our past.

But see this question and its answers, for example. As this answer says, Tolkien himself said that Middle Earth is not our world at a different era, but instead is "at a different stage of imagination.

So what would Middle Earth look like in the equivalent of the 21st century? Would any of the Hobbits, Elves, and Dwarves survive? Would archaeologists be exploring the ruins of Minas Tirith, or digging up Hobbit bones? How would a modern Middle Earth differ from our own world?

(Perhaps Dungeons & Dragons would be played by historical reenactors rather than by fantasy fans.)

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    I like this, so I won't vote to close. But it is, I think, completely subjective so I think it will close fairly quickly. – Reinstate Monica - Goodbye SE Jan 18 '12 at 11:53
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    While from a totally different mythology, have a look at ShadowRun -- since this was downvoted as an answer, it is now a comment. Meh. – Sardathrion - against SE abuse Jan 18 '12 at 13:52
  • @Sardathrion I'd upvote that. – AncientSwordRage Jan 18 '12 at 14:43
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    I'm sorry, but I've had to vote to close - Real Questions have answers, and this can only be answered through pure speculation. We don't even know how long before a '21st century' Middle Earth was. – Jeff Jan 18 '12 at 15:20
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    Read the closing chapters of "The Last Ring-Bearer". – DVK-on-Ahch-To Jan 18 '12 at 15:43

Since the magic is leaving the world at the beginning of the Age of Man, the future will look increasingly like the standard Earth one, driven by the iron boot of dialectic Historical materialism. Except for all the weird things thrown into paleontological record by things like dragon bones and archaeological one by things like palantirs and mithril.

So there will be a lot more conspiracy theories about past uber-advanced civilizations on mythical sinking islands.

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This answer is based on all official information released by Tolkien about the Lord of the Rings timeline as it relates to the 21st century with gaps filled in by speculation:

By this time in history, electronics were in virtually everything from clothing to garbage cans to make them move, talk and/or make electronic noises.

Flying cars, once they were invented and perfected, had become so common that drivers no longer needed roads except perhaps for short journeys. Skyways dominated the skies of central California (The Shire) and eventually the entire world. Cultural influences from other countries, were more often seen in food and clothing.

Life was lived at a quicker pace than before, in evidence by the speed that people walked down the street, the time it took to cook dinner, and the swiftness of court trials.

Many sequels to the movie Jaws were produced, with the latest movie "Jaws 19" being filmed in holographic 3D.

Another notable book, Grays Sports Almanac, was published which covered many sports from 1950 to 2000, including football, baseball, hockey, horse racing, boxing, slamball, golf, tennis, track, polo, bowling, surfing, sailing, auto racing, rugby, soccer, ping pong, darts, swimming, diving, ice skating, racquetball, rodeo, and more. Gray's had been making almanacs since 1923.

At this point in history Hobbits, Elves, Dwarves, Orks, Ents, and other creatures were nowhere to be seen as they'd moved to Canada following the destruction of the One Ring.

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    Whaddayahave against Canada? – DVK-on-Ahch-To Jan 24 '12 at 18:11

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