The thing about a well-developed setting is that in many ways it’s invisible: it’s hidden in a sentence that reveals a character’s flaw, it sits quietly beside an emotional truth, it’s the catalyst for a surprising behavior. Setting grounds us in a specific context so that we can believe and understand the narrative, but the writer doesn’t want us to stop and notice, to have to think: look, here we are.
You could argue that most successful elements of craft—not just setting—are also invisible, but stories set in the future, like Gina Frangello’s story “My Parasite,” published on The Rumpus on January 6 , run the risk of working too hard to show us how the time and place of the story is so different and removed from our present. When it comes to giving the reader a context when a story is set in a dystopian future, less is more. And Frangello? She nails it.