Learning from Dystopian Fiction

Things I’ve learned from reading the popular genre of dystopian fiction:

  • Honey doesn’t spoil.
  • Food and medicine shortages are likely.
  • Dried milk powder also lasts forever – or for a really long time.
  • Goats are worth their weight in gold.
  • Rain barrels – or a Rain Containment System – can be lifesaving.
  • A wood burning fireplace or stove is priceless.
  • Generators only have value while fuel is available.
  • Communication may be precious – or impossible.
  • Day lily bulbs may be edible (does anyone know if this is true?)
  • Chickens are more than pets.
  • Barter keeps the pantry stocked.
  • Feminine supplies can be trade bait.
  • Electricity and running water may be luxuries.
  • Friendship and trust continue to be worth more than money.

I’ve noticed that no matter what the cause or the premise of the disaster, hunger becomes the focus. Whether the moon is knocked out of orbit or a pandemic plague spreads or a war changes everything, survivors will worry about feeding themselves and their families. Rationing food, stashing food packages, even stealing food becomes a main thread in almost every apocalyptic novel or series I’ve read. There is the short term goal: get everything you can into the house and lock it up or hide it well. Then there is the long term goal: plant a garden. Raise chickens or goats. Preserve everything possible. As plots evolve, the characters move from short term to long term survival tactics.

You might notice I haven’t mentioned anything about government, local or otherwise. With communication sporadic or down completely, any form of government would be more difficult to maintain. But that’s more than a blog post; it’s a whole book!

Readers, have you read any dystopian fiction lately? What was it? What did you think?

3 thoughts on “Learning from Dystopian Fiction

  1. What have you been reading???
    I read a TON of this when designing the sci fi reading component for English 12 last year–Unwind, Feed, The Maze Runner, The Fifth Wave, Legend and Delirium. Lots of good stuff out there in this genre.

  2. Every part of a day lily plant is edible. Just don’t confuse them with Easter lilies, which are most definitely NOT edible and in fact are poisonous. Luckily, the widespread feral day lily with its orange flowers are pretty distinctive.

    • Thanks! I am pretty darn certain my yard hosts the ever-popular orange day lily. Given the chance, these flowers would take over the world. Hm…that’s not such a bad thing.

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