This week, the long awaited Hunger Games by Susanne Collins will grace the silver screen. A popular dystopia novel, Hunger Games is set in an all-too-possible future world. A combination of climate change and resource depletion result in a United States shattered into 12 districts ruled by a dictatorial and repressive regime.
In the world of Hunger Games children are required to be sent as tribute to fight in a Battle Royale to the death. Katnis, the main character finds herself in the unique position of deciding to take her sister’s place when she’s chosen to fight in the games (Yes, I know, but Hunger Games was published three years after Luthiel’s Song. So it appears the inspiration may be running the other way).
But what’s most uncanny about this amazing series is that it occurs in an, entirely possible, future world. The climate is hot, the coastlines receded, and resources are scarce and growing ever moreso. A greedy and insulated ruling city lords its power over its subject districts in a reinvented feudalism. The subjects of these outlying districts are pressed into slave labor even as they are slowly starved. Though unrealistic, the map below is a dark vision of a world ravaged by these ills:
In stark contrast to the hundreds of millions now living in the continental US, only hundreds of thousands remain. It is clearly a world that has suffered a devastating collapse brought on, at least in part, by an irresponsible and self-serving leadership.
What makes the story most compelling is Katnis’s struggles against a leadership that continuously preys on the people under its rule and against the corruption that seems to crop up each time a hand reaches out to grasp power. The books painted a well-rendered and deeply compelling story about a world that could be. I sincerely hope the movies live up to the spirit of the originating vision.