Thursday, June 16, 2011

Turning everyday occurrences into scifi, fantasy, and horror

It’s a Monday morning. The alarm goes off. You wake up, make your way to the bathroom, glance at your bloodshot eyes in the mirror. You shuffle into the kitchen, start the coffee…

This is everyone’s Monday morning. And, not to be rude, but, it's boring.

As readers of scifi, horror, and fantasy fiction we don’t want to hear about our own yawn-inspiring routine. We want to escape, to jump into the life of someone else, where maybe the alarm isn’t really an alarm, the bathroom isn’t a bathroom, bloodshot eyes aren’t bloodshot eyes, coffee isn’t coffee…at least not the kind we’re used to. Or maybe the morning a character wakes up something big and risky is going to take place.

In The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, reality tv is taken to an extreme, when a gladiator-style program is broadcast to the country where children fight each other to the death. The children aren’t willing participants. They’re names are picked at random. If a child is chosen, that child knows, just like their families, that chances are, they won’t come home. At least, not alive.

The book begins with the day of the reaping, when two children from the main character’s district will be chosen for the hunger games. It’s a normal day for the character otherwise. She wakes up and knows she must hunt to provide for her family, just like she’d do on any other day. But she also knows she has to stand with the rest of the community and listen to the names that will be chosen for the games. Will it be her? Or her sister? Or someone she knows? Well…

In The Hunger Games, reality television we commonly watch when we plop down on the couch and turn on the tv at night is portrayed as the trashiest, most extreme kind of tv show imaginable. A child you know is bound to be on the sickening show you’re forced to watch, and they’re probably going to die.

It’s not another boring episode of the same old reality show we watch every Tuesday. This is intense, twisted, our culture regressing into the Dark Ages. In a world where we wonder where our society is headed, a book like The Hunger Games makes us stop and think. Maybe my Monday morning isn’t so bad and I shouldn’t take for granted my snoring husband, my fresh ground coffee, and the fact that I don’t have to run into the forest and kill a squirrel for breakfast. And the children won’t be unwilling participants in a deadly reality show. But in The Hunger Games we root for Collins’s main character. I couldn't stop turning the pages. We want her to win, to return to her family. We want her to find a way to fix her world and make a better future for children.

So what kind of amazing story can you dream up about a Monday morning?

1 comment:

jer said...

I just finished the trilogy - can't wait for the movie of the Hunger Games to come out next spring. Great review.