It would seem I have a knack for finding books about the world and society generations after the end of the world, dystopian societies in all shapes and forms. They create an apocalyptic societal construction after the primary breakout and panic and demonstrate newly created societies (though sometimes with advanced technologies). Often these new societies represent the authors beliefs on the basic nature of humanity. They side with either Locke or Hobbes on the classic debate and demonstrate a newly created society in the ashes of the old one, a phoenix if you will, that roots itself in our primal natures.
HISTORICAL BACKGROUND! The debate on our primal background can be traced essentially to two main english philosophers, Thomas Hobbes and John Locke. Other theories and varieties differ from their two theories but in essence its one or the other. Hobbes believes that in our base nature is are crude and brutish, man without structure would be in chaos, one for himself sort of an affair, and it is only with regimented controlled society by a strong Leviathan government that this nature is limited. Locke, however, disagreed. He believed that in our base nature humanity is peaceful, prosperous, equal, and we naturally create societies to protect our rights further and advance ourselves. Jean-Jacques Rousseau adds on to this by coining the term social contract.
IN ESSENCE: Hobbes believes we are inherently bad and need to be controlled, Locke believes we’re inherently good.
There are three books I’m going to be talking about in the next few weeks that follow this theme. The first is The Maze Runner series by James Dashner (my primary focus for now). The second is Wool by Hugh Howey (I’ve only just begun however, so I will only really get into it in a few weeks when I finish). The third, and final, is the Matched series by Alli Condie (though I read it about a year ago and I’ve yet to finish the series, I will touch on it a bit). Each of these books take a slightly different take on the concept of dystopian societies and each brings many moral questions.
THE MAZE RUNNER
A solar flare knocked out all technology on Earth, as a method of population and crowd control until power could be back online the military (presumably of the US) released a toxin. It however had adverse effects and began to cause the population to go crazy “Past the Gone”, this virus came to be known as the Flare. Decades later power has been restored but the virus cannot be controlled. The remainder of Earth’s resources were given to a group called WICKED (World In Catastrophe: Killzone Experiment Department) to find a cure. But where is the limit drawn?
The novels, Maze Runner, Scorch Trials, and Death Cure follow the main character, Thomas, as he and other groups of Immunes are put through trials to test variables and how they affect the genome, to discover the immunity gene and find the cure. The Maze Runner will be the focus for now as the group, a bunch of boys, and ultimately one sole girl, is put into a Maze to survive with wild monsters and traps and death, also they have no memories. This takes an opposing view to the Lord of the Flies as this group of boys doesn’t fall into chaos but creates a society to survive. Another group, of all girls and one boy, creates a similar, and hinted at perhaps superior society than the boys. However, outside the Maze and the trials chaos rules as all of the Humanity is stripped from the majority of the population and people are left crazy. The Scorch Trials outlines society with human inhibitions repressed and the chaos that Hobbes’s view trully is. The Death Cure demonstrates a city in attempt to remain free of infection but how the corruption of higher officials ends up bringing the city to collapse because of the greed people have to better themselves.
Thus, Dashner plays off both the base nature of Locke and the society of chaos and corruption with Hobbes.
Further Information can be found on the Maze Runner Wiki: Click HERE, please note that I have not read the prequel Kill Order about the time before WICKED
Wool is a series of Novellas that I have only just begun (I’m on the second novella), I only own novellas 1-5 of the Silo series, which is the main series, but there is a 3 part prequel and a 9th final book.
As of yet I know that this is a society centuries after some catastrophic occurrence that cause the air to become acidic. The acidic air worsened until underground cities had to be build so that society could continue in modified non acidic air. Now to go outside is a death sentence within minutes the specialized hazmat suits will corrode and the breathing will become difficult one will either asphyxiate or burn to death.
Their history has been erased in some rebellion years past and the truth has been lost. Now society is extremely controlled and regimented simply to keep society running. Population control is very important due to limited space and resources. A lottery for the right to have a child is given only when someone dies. I’m not sure yet if the regiment is a Hobbesian commentary yet, or if it is simply to facilitate such constricted living conditions. There is a very large urge to get out, even though to do so would be death, it is sometimes suspected that this is a lie, though the first novella demonstrates that the air is in fact acidic. It is only the urge to strive for something more, something greater that forces people to that point. (I will discuss more on this later).
For more Information click HERE
This novel takes a very complex take on Hobbes’ perfect society. Once again we aren’t sure of the past, however, now the Society controls everything. There are outer borders where people don’t follow the regiment of the Society, but censorship eliminates any inclination towards that “freedom”. Their societies are very complex with very advanced technologies, and far from any chaos, it seems perfect. But that is if your definition of perfection is order, over happiness. People aren’t necessarily unhappy, they don’t know any different, but the regiment of the world makes you bring into question your values. Is it moral? Is it justified? True, there is no free will, but society runs perfectly, there’s no crime, no illness, no suffering, no pain.
Cassidy the main character of the series ends up questioning this as well, only she’s decided that it’s not justified. The books follow her journey to break out of the Society and bring free will to the people. Creativity, Choice, Love, Knowledge, Possibility, these are all things worth fighting for and worth having that the Society limits, if not complete annihilation.
Further information can be found on the Matched series wikia: click HERE
For the official website click HERE