I have just finished a short story, set in what is known as 20 Minutes into the Future - a time frame that's only a little into the future from our own. There is a change from modern times, but it is sociological rather than technological.
I opened with the element that's different, set it and the process that led to it within the first page, and thought that it would be enough. More specifically, I took a conflict that's ongoing right now, and explored what happens after one side "wins". However, while the existence of the conflict is known, its current status, as it turned out - less so.
First question I get from a beta reader: "When is this happening? I looked through Wikipedia, it doesn't seem to fit anything in the past decades."
How can I establish the setting as "tomorrow"? I suppose I can mention a year, but that would make the work dated the moment the year passes. I can mention some event that had clearly not happened, like the monarchy in Spain being voted out, but that feels forced, too big to just be a timestamp. What other options do I have?
To make things more difficult, the story is narrated in third-person limited, following very closely a protagonist who is 16 at the time of the story, with the "change" happening when he was 5. So I need to establish that his "reference point in the past" is in our future.