Because an original work of American fiction earned $730 million at the box office.
Tag Archives: The Hunger Games
Most mainstream speculative sci-fi follows a handful of basic storylines, roughly speaking, the efforts of Good Guys to prevent, survive, overthrow or reverse social orders or apocalyptic events, typically caused by Bad Guys. America’s latest favorite, The Hunger Games, is first about surviving and overthrowing. The Matrix trilogy is about overthrow and reverse. The Terminator franchise has explored all of these areas with varying degrees of success.
In literature, George Orwell’s 1984 is, on its surface, about overthrowing. Cormac McCarthy’s The Road is about surviving. Margaret Atwood has a well-deserved reputation as a master of the form, and while her works are typically a cut above the rest, they still fall into the usual categories. Her best known book The Handmaid’s Tale is, in its unique way, about surviving and overthrowing. More recently, she has written a trilogy of speculative sci-fi about the collapse of a near future dystopia. The first two entries fit into the broad categories of prevention and survival. But the final book, MaddAddam, is an exception — to the trilogy and the sci-fi mainstream. Continue reading
Climate change? Apparently so.
In “So Hot Right Now: Has Climate Change Created A New Literary Genre?” NPR Books explores the growing genre of “cli-fi”:
Over the past decade, more and more writers have begun to set their novels and short stories in worlds, not unlike our own, where the Earth’s systems are noticeably off-kilter. The genre has come to be called climate fiction — “cli-fi,” for short.
NPR starts the discussion with Nathaniel Rich’s Odds Against Tomorrow, which people are talking about because it seems to have predicted the effects of Hurricane Sandy. Unfortunately, Exhibit B for “cli-fi” is Michael Crichton’s State of Fear, which is a bad example because — much as I still love Jurassic Park and even The Lost World — it’s garbage. Continue reading
One copy each of
“The Hunger Games” and “Catching Fire” are now in my possession. They could be yours, if the odds are in your favor. My thoughts on each below.
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Read if you liked The Running Man and Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret.
Yours if you want it.
IN A PREVIOUS ERA, a popular young adult character was assured that “Life is a game,” to which he replied: “Game, my ass. Some game. If you get on the side where all the hot-shots are, then it’s a game, all right – I’ll admit that. But if you get on the other side, where there aren’t any hot-shots, then what’s a game about it? Nothing. No game.” Given the chance, Katniss Everdeen, the sixteen year-old heroine of “The Hunger Games,” might have identified with Holden Caulfield’s thinking, though in a considerably more literal way. As it is, there is no indication that any copies of “The Catcher in the Rye” exist in her district of Panem, “the country that rose up out of the ashes of a place that was once called North America.” Panem is your standard dystopia: distant future; post-war society; impoverished districts held under the thumb of a shiny, sophisticated and paranoid government. Suzanne Collins, however, adds some interesting tweaks, most notably (for me anyway) that instead of a bleak post-nuclear landscape, Panem is a grim post-climate change world where instability and scarcity have led to massive bloodshed.
Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
It’s a deep burn, so deep.
“CATCHING FIRE” IS A CLASSIC second entry in the sci-fi, fight-the-power-trilogy tradition. Whereas in the first round people must begin to resist and reluctant, unlikely heroes must come into their roles, the second must show the battle essentially started, with sides chosen and things at their most grim. The full might and cruelty of the bad guys must be demonstrated and the good guys must realize and be daunted by how hard it is to chew what they have bitten off. In the model of “The Empire Strikes Back,” the middle entry is usually also the best of the three.
“Catching Fire” meets most, if not all of these criteria.