<a href="http://www.antipope.org/charlie/blog-static/2012/01/world-building-404-the-unknown.html#more "> Charlie Stross, "World Building 404: The Unknown Unknowns"</a>
Great blog post from science fiction author Charlie Stross about building near-future worlds in SF stories. Stross discusses how authors should balance elements that are continuous and familiar from contemporary society ("known knowns"), elements that are predictable advances on current technologies and social structures ("known unknowns"), and "unknown unknowns," disruptive events or innovations that are as yet unforeseen.
This post could provide a starting point for thinking about guidelines or best practices for writing speculative near-term science fiction stories that are inspiring and radically innovative while still being relatable for their audiences. This would likely call for a balance of the familiar and the unfamiliar, as Stross argues. Stories based on a future that is completely alien probably will not have the effect of inspiring tangible research or enhancing public engagement with science.