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.
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.
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