Forward is primarily set in a metropolitan area of southern Ontario, in the year 2167 CE. In Canada, as in the vast majority of nations worldwide, human rights have expanded and been strengthened, and crises such as poverty are all but eliminated. It is a basic legal requirement that people have the necessities of a reasonably comfortable and healthy life, regardless of their origin, occupation, or history - to deny someone food, shelter, Internet access or medical attention because they have no money would be considered as unthinkably monstrous as denying them freedom of religion or a fair trial.

Several locations within the solar system have human colonies on them - most notably, Mars, which is the major origin point of most technological innovation and popular culture. Several robotic probes have been sent to nearby stars, but faster-than-light travel has not yet been invented, and no aliens have been discovered.

Because of medical technologies developed on Mars, it is now possible to "3D print" organs and body parts using someone's own genetic material, even if those body parts aren't coded for in the genes themselves (i.e., "naturally" purple hair). This technology is commonly used not only for repair of damage, but also for cosmetic reasons - as such, people have unprecedented control over their own appearance and biology, and factors such as skin colour and sexual characteristics are largely a matter of personal preference. Some say this technology has now functionally granted human beings immortality, but, because it has only been widely available for a few decades, the full implications of this fact have not yet been processed by society at large.

Autonomous AI, robots, and drones are common throughout the world, and have replaced the need for most human labour. If you can envision a random high school dropout doing a job after a two week training course, then that job is already being done by a machine or computer program, and it would be both economically impractical and insulting to attempt to hire a human being to do the job instead. Humans can still do these things for pleasure - driving a car or stitching a garment or flipping a pancake or planting a garden - but no one in their right mind would hire them to do it for minimum wage for forty hours a week, for the same reason that you wouldn't hire someone to run down to the reservoir to fetch you a bucket of tap water.

Different strategies have been employed in different places to deal with this economic fact. In Ontario, every human being - regardless of whether they already have a job or not - receives basic income, an amount recalculated in real time to be enough to live on in relative comfort. The funding for this program is derived from sales taxes, asset taxes, and considerable investment in various financial markets.

(If this setup conflicts with your understanding of macroeconomics, please consider that the economy is an invention like any other, and most science fiction settings necessarily involve technologies that have not yet been invented. If you find yourself accepting the existence of 3D printed arms and humanoid robots but not an economy that provides for people, consider that perhaps your objection is less based on the ineffable truisms of economic science and more based on an emotional, tribal connection to a partisan political stance.)

The main character of Forward is Lee Caldavera.

Lee lives alone, and spends most of their time watching episodes of Martian cartoons and rating them out of five stars. They have no job, and necessities like food and clothing are delivered to their apartment and prepared by various devices that Lee either rents or owns. Like most people who have been given everything they say they want, Lee is miserable.

One of the things Lee owns is a copy of Therapro Psyhealth v146.0.0.25, which they typically refer to as "Doc". Doc functions as Lee's therapist, and attempts to alleviate their misery, despite not possessing any authority or ability to compel Lee to do anything Lee doesn't want to do.

Zoa is an autonomous nonspecified service provider, essentially a mechanical day labourer. It is owned by the DemeGeek corporation, but the DemeGeek corporation does not directly control the device - they merely collect whatever income Zoa can legally generate, and, in return, provide the service of acting as Zoa's owner.

It should be noted that while AI is an acronym for Artificial Intelligence, it is generally not spelled with periods after the letters, for simplicity's sake.

More information about the world of Forward will be provided as it is revealed in the comic itself, either on this page, or to Patreon subscribers.