U is for a Unique Series – @HiJayPosey Answers a Question on Dystopian Fiction
Last year I picked up a book called THREE and was trapped in a real dystopian genre bender. A bit of fantasy, a bit of horror, great sci-fi and all so well wrought I was entranced at the utter beauty even in the middle of the bleakness of this post-apocalyptic world. When I reached the end I was shocked and thrilled. A real dystopia. No HEA here, people. When Angry Robot contacted me about the second in the series I am pretty sure I made a lot of happy noises. Now that I have it to read as an ARC I am almost afraid to start. I contacted Jay and asked him if he could answer me why dystopian? I am a huge fan and it is very rare that you can find true dystopian fiction with all the classic conventions you expect and not some pretty foo-foo young adult coming of age story with girls in pretty dresses.
Why dystopian? What influenced you?
When people ask me how I’d describe the world of the Duskwalker series, I usually say I think of it as post-post-apocalyptic, which is a half joke, I guess. I’m still not sure whether it’s more post-apocalyptic or dystopian. It’s a world that has more or less accepted the reality of its new situation, but hasn’t yet been able to drag itself to a fully functional place. There’s been some recovery, it’s just very unevenly distributed. But however you define it, as I was trying to develop the world for the story I wanted to tell, there were three main reasons I decided on such a setting.
Firstly, it let me experiment with a sort of frontier outpost feeling set in the middle of a sprawling cityscape. There was something appealing to me about having these characters wandering around a world where they were constantly reminded of just how much had been lost. It introduced a certain texture to the story that hadn’t been there before, and I found it personally compelling. It also gave me room to rewrite the rules of our own world without having to completely create them from scratch, which helped me keep things grounded to some degree; people still needed to eat, and find water, and worry about cold and infections, even though there was a lot of advanced technology lying around.
Secondly, the setting gave me a wide range of obstacles and challenges I could put in front of the characters. It let me set the stakes as high as I wanted to, regardless of how mundane the situation would seem in the real world. Even the smallest things can suddenly become critical; dropping your only light source, for example, or having to decide whether or not now is the time to use that last bullet in your gun.
Third and finally, and connected to that previous idea, the setting intensified the moral choices of the characters. There’s a real dual-edge that gets introduced in a world where society has largely collapsed: on the one hand, characters have to face the fact that if they themselves don’t do the right thing in a particular situation, probably no one else is going to show up to do it for them; on the other hand, if they don’t do the right thing, it’s unlikely anyone else is going to notice or care. And what “the right thing” is gets to be even murkier anyway.
If you’re the primary leader and provider for a small community of people, is it right to put yourself at risk to rescue an individual in danger? In a world where there’s little to no social pressure or expectation for you to care for others, the fact that you would choose to do so suddenly reveals even more about your true nature.
With Morningside Fall, I wanted to explore some ideas about what it might mean when a city of survivors who had mostly figured out how to get by in a collapsed world was confronted by some major changes to their carefully-balanced lives. In a setting where the stakes are so high, characters have strong motivations (and justifications) for the choices they make, and I was able to play with some shades of grey that might have otherwise seemed more black-and-white.
When I was gearing up to write the Duskwalker series, I’d been thinking a lot about service and sacrifice. I’m a Senior Narrative Designer at Ubisoft/Red Storm Entertainment, a game development studio started by Tom Clancy, so I’ve had a lot of opportunity to sit down and talk with a number of combat veterans, and I know that’s had a huge impact on my life and my thinking. Military, law enforcement, firefighters, we have a lot of people in our society who quietly go out and literally risk their lives so that the rest of us can enjoy the peace and freedom that we have. Very few of them are ever thanked or genuinely appreciated for the sacrifices they make on our behalf. As strange as it may sound, those men and women were probably the greatest influence on shaping the kind of story I wanted to tell, and in turn, the kind of world I created to do so.
by Jay Posey
Published by Angry Robot, Limited
Genres: Apocalyptic & Post-Apocalyptic, Fiction, Science Fiction, Westerns
Source & Buy Links: NetGalley
Amazon • Barnes & Noble • Book Depository • • Goodreads •
The lone gunman Three is gone, and Wren is the new governor of the devastated settlement of Morningside, but there is turmoil in the city. When his life is put in danger, Wren is forced to flee Morningside until he and his retinue can determine who can be trusted.
They arrive at the border outpost, Ninestory, only to find it has been infested with Weir in greater numbers than anyone has ever seen. These lost, dangerous creatures are harbouring a terrible secret – one that will have consequences not just for Wren and his comrades, but for the future of what remains of the world.
The first in the series is THREE and it blew me away (as I mentioned). Check out my review HERE.
by Jay Posey
Genres: Apocalyptic & Post-Apocalyptic,Fiction, Science Fiction, Westerns
Amazon • Goodreads
The world has collapsed, and there are no heroes any more.
But when a lone gunman reluctantly accepts the mantel of protector to a young boy and his dying mother against the forces that pursue them, a hero may yet arise…