How did the world end?
When a book is set in a dystopian future on Earth, you know something terrible happened. But what happened? Some Sci Fi writers draw it out, feeding you the sad tale slowly piece by piece. Nora Roberts gives it to you straight from the get go.
The Prologue of Of Blood and Bone begins:
They said a virus ended the world.
And then it gets worse . . .
“And yet the innocent–the touch of a hand, a mother’s goodnight kiss–spread the Doom, bringing sudden, painful, ugly death to billions.
“Many who survived that first shocking strike died by their own hand or by another’s as the thorny vines of madness, grief, and fear strangled the world. Still others, unable to find shelter, food, clean water, medications, simply withered and died waiting for help and hope that never came.
“The spine of technology cracked, bringing the dark, the silence. Governments toppled from their perches of power.
“The Doom gave no quarter to democracy, to dictators, to parliaments or kingdoms. It fed on presidents and peasants with equal greed.”
And then Nora Roberts reveals that the world of her novel, which begins in Year Twelve after the Doom, contains both modern technology and “magicks.”
How does the new world work?
Once the world “ends” and a new world begins to rise, it can have elements of science fiction, fantasy or the paranormal. Or a combination.
In pure Sci Fi, the new world can contain technology that is futuristic to us but that existed before the downfall, new technology created after, or a mix of both. In the Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, the leaders in the Capital have flying cars, but they’ve forgotten how to build airplanes. In Ready Player One by Ernest Cline, the world is in bad shape but the technology continues to advance with ever improving virtual reality technology.
[Read my review of Ready Player One.]
Some authors use the apocalypse to clear the world of technology. In Ariel by Steven R. Boyett, one of my favorite novels, all technology just stops working and magic takes its place. After the Change, even something as simple as a bicycle just doesn’t work anymore.
Other authors mix technology and magic. Piers Anthony does this with alternate universes–one magical and one technological–in his Apprentice Adept series. Can you think of something more recent?
Plan your new world!
Imagine your own dystopian future for Earth. What will you include?
- Science and technology that does not yet exist?
- Magic, mystical powers, or strange abilities of the mind?
- Creatures only found in dreams or nightmares?
Please post your comments below.
I wrote what might be called an anti-dystopian trilogy. Aided by alien technology, a tech guru foresees the end of the world as we know it in the form of an EMP blast from the Sun. Given a ten-year head start, he gradually releases the alien tech into society so that, when the EMP finally occurs, very few people are adversely affected. In, fact, life becomes much better for everyone, thanks to the ACME Corporation and its line of affordable products.
As a fan of Arthur C. Clarke, I tend towards sufficiently advanced technology instead of using magic as a solution to our problems.
Thanks for your comment on my blog post “This is how the world ends …”
I’m glad you found the solutions for humanity in your anti-dystopian tale! That was clever of your tech guru to slow-release the technology so that people could slowly absorb it before the EMP blast. Some of us have trouble making leaps and bounds!
I agree on tech vs. magic. I love magic in stories. It can be a lot of fun! But it is not the solution for our problems. Clarke had a lot of great ideas. And I guess we’ll need a lot more great ideas to solve some of humanity’s problems.
I was actually going to make my series about this futuristic world where technology led to terrible wars and so it was decided it would be banished and everyone would go back to living in a more Renaissance like lifestyle.
I’m still working on weather some nations will defy this and somehow still use technology in some ways…it really is something big to consider.
This was my first time reading your blog and it’s a great post! Thanks for sharing! 🙂
Thanks for your comment and I’m glad you enjoyed the post!
I love the idea of a futuristic world that chooses en mass to scale back its technology. You might find some inspiration in historical groups that have abandoned technology, like the Amish and Mennonite communities. And I love, love, love the idea of cheaters. That would absolutely happen in any human society! I’m sure the bad guys will be cheaters. But I think it would be interesting if some of the good guys were cheaters, too! But you are the author and the creator of this world, so you should do whatever you love and whatever serves a great story.