Friday, July 19, 2013

Dystopian and Post-Apocalyptic Fiction: Life Goes On

It fascinates me when there's an idea in the air that seems to spring up simultaneously from different places. There are writing trends in pop culture, but that's not necessarily what I mean. I mean two people in different places feeling the same vibe from this moment in history who get inspired to write...


Or cowboy space opera.

Or fallen angels.

Or dystopia.

I guess with that last one it's easy to see where the inspiration comes in. A world in financial unease and geo-political unrest. Newspapers sensationalizing every awful thing. It's easy to see where dystopian ideas spring up. In fact, this isn't a modern phenomenon by any means. This genre is as old as oppression and as relevant as pain.

STUNG by Bethany Wiggins (highly recommend, by the way) sprang up from the vaccine craze of the last few decades combined with the mysterious dying off of honey bees.

THE HUNGER GAMES by Suzanne Collins sprang up from a world at war that is too entertained to realize it is at war.

ENDER'S GAME by OSC sprang up in 1985 inspired by zero population, genetic engineering, and the question of war-time military ethics.

1984 by George Orwell sprang up in the late 1940's in response to the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany.

MEMENTO NORA by Angie Smibert sprang up from uber consumerism and corporate culture.

WITHER by Lauren DeStefano sprang out of science's obsession with immortality.

PITY ISN'T AN OPTION by Jessica Brooks sprang out of economic depression and political disenfranchisement.

The overarching theme in most--not all--of these is that life goes on, however miserable things get, and that there is hope. 

Sometimes that hope resides in one person who holds the cure. Or in teaming up in the face of incredible odds. Or in sacrificing yourself for your family. Or faith in a higher power. 

Have you read something in this genre recently? What did you take away?


  1. Excellent post! I just finished Proxy by Alex London, a dystopian take on the whipping boy story. You're right, the most important message in these stories is that no matter how bad it gets, humanity adapts and survives, that there is always hope.

    1. Ooh, Proxy sounds very interesting! Thanks for the recommendation.

  2. I think the corollary to Suzanne's comment "no matter how bad it gets, humanity adapts and survives, that there is always hope" is that for a lot of these stories, humanity is both their own worst enemy and their best hope. A lot of dystopians have human-caused catastrophes (even if it's a natural event, a recurring theme seems to be people tinkering with things they shouldn't), but it's also human ingenuity or compassion that saves everyone.

    1. Great observation! I agree we are our own heroes and villains.

  3. Nice post! I must try out WITHER. Thanks for putting STUNG on there.


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