Technology in Dystopian Novels

Dystopian novels have become very popular, and many are gaining popularity through their movie adaptations – just a simple Google search will bring up a slew of novels such as Divergent, Fahrenheit 451, The Hunger Games, and The Maze Runner. What I have noticed in all of these up and coming novels is the almost overbearing presence of advanced technology – and I wonder just how much this technology influences the dystopian themes of these novels.

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Amazon.

In Divergent, a novel by Veronica Roth that is a soon-to-be movie, the setting takes place in a post-apocalyptic Chicago with a rigid political system designed to keep the surviving population in check. This novel is riddled with advanced technologies, mostly centered around different serums developed to further police the factions of people. These serums range from a truth serum to a simulation serum that interacts directly with the individual’s thoughts and memories to create an alternate reality once they are injected.

In the classic novel Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury the technologies present also focus on a close interaction with the surviving population – this time it is an earpiece that is designed to manipulate the individual’s thoughts in such a way as to distract them from forming their own ideas.

In the very popular Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, the technology present is less dependent on the characters and more dependent on controlling the entire population as a whole. For example, the technology is found in the elitist social strata in the form of advanced weaponry, security features, and new luxurious innovations to make a high-end life even easier than it already is by furthering the socioeconomic gap.

And finally, the novel The Maze Runner by James Dashner has a similar technology as The Hunger Games – where the technology is not directly in contact as with the first two novels I mentioned, but is more present in the surrounding environment. In this novel, the technology is seen in the very setting of the characters – in the skyscraping and ever moving walls of the maze itself and the mysterious mechanical creatures that haunt the maze.

Of all of these novels I have mentioned, they are all dystopian and they all include advanced technology that is perceived in a negative light. I wonder if this negative view of technology in these novels is like a foreshadowing of what is to come – not in the sense that technology may someday be used to control us, but that whatever new forms of technology that may someday exist, they may be used as agents of corruption.

 

References

Amazon. (2014). Divergent (Divergent Series). Retrieved from http://www.amazon.com/Divergent-Veronica-Roth/dp/0062024035/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1391051336&sr=1-1&keywords=divergent

Amazon. (2014). Fahrenheit 451: A Novel. Retrieved from http://www.amazon.com/Fahrenheit-451-Novel-Ray-Bradbury/dp/1451673310/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1391051276&sr=1-1&keywords=fahrenheit+451

Amazon. (2014). The Hunger Games (Book 1). Retrieved from http://www.amazon.com/Hunger-Games-Book-1/dp/0439023521/ref=sr_1_3?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1391051215&sr=1-3&keywords=hunger+games

Amazon. (2014). The Maze Runner (Book 1). Retrieved from http://www.amazon.com/Maze-Runner-Book-1/dp/0385737955/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1391051076&sr=1-2&keywords=the+maze+runner

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6 thoughts on “Technology in Dystopian Novels

  1. I have also noticed the theme of advanced technology in dystopian novels. I often think of books like these when I see people milling around constantly on their phones and wonder how much of our lives will be controlled by them. Novels like these are a good warning for the risks technology can bring to society.

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  2. Its really interesting to see how people view the future, especially with regard to technology. While this is not a new concept (people have been scared of technology forever, right?) I think it does say a lot about our society and the consequences that technology could have if not monitored or controlled. The idea that technology has the capacity to lead to dystopia is pretty scary and there is legitimate truth behind it, which makes these novels so compelling.

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  3. I think these could definitely be attempts at foreshadowing. Though I find my self wondering if there any Utopian novels out there being over shadowed, simply because they are less fun to read. If there are It’d be interesting to compare the concepts of technology found in each. Unfortunately I don’t know of any obvious ones.

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  4. I think the fear of the unknown especially when it comes to technology we don’t understand, drives these common themes. The introduction of Big Brother in the novel 1984 shows that these fears have been around for a long time. In actuality we know that the events in the novel 1984 didn’t actually happen when the year 1984 came and pasted, but the fear is still alive today.

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  5. To be fair, when viewing the future, people either like to go utopian or dystopian. We’d like to think that our society will make great strides in some direction either way. And while I happen to have an embarrassing penchant for books like Divergent and The Hunger Games, I don’t necessarily see something like that becoming our future. Media can be very powerful and controlling, but there are always going to be people who are going to be stronger, willing for fight for what is right for society. I’d like to believe that in our future we’ll be able to better work with media instead of against it.

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  6. I think what you’re observing is something about the role of an artist that is often overlooked in daily life. Most artists, especially authors and poets, use their work at least to some extent, to respond to and critique their own social context. For this reason, it comes to me as no surprise that technology-immersed novels are so prevalent. Their popularity can likely be attributed to the fact that when something rings true to us, even in a vague and distant way, we connect to it. Even if these dystopian novels may take an extreme position, they speak truth to us in some way.

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