I’ve discovered that a fair number of the top young adult novels are dystopias. You know, on the surface everyone’s happy and well-adjusted, but the cost of these peaceful, happy societies is simple things like freedom and individuality. Usually, these worlds have grown up out of the ruins of our failures, and grown into well-functioning communities built on the judicious application of mind altering drugs, fear mongering, or strict punishment for any rule infractions.
And, while we’re not supposed to want to live in these horrible places where there are no books, or where everyone’s pretty, and all they have to worry about is parties and what to wear, I admit to being tempted by some of the good things they offer.
Take for example the food.
In all of these worlds, food is not only plentiful, it’s organic, and locally grown. No one is overweight. Even better, in the vast majority of the settings, the food is delivered magically by technology, or by people whose job it is to prepare and deliver the food. At any hour of the day, warm, flavorful food is just a simple request away. No one worries about affording groceries, paper vs. plastic, processed foods and chemicals verses fresh ingredients, and no one spends one brain cell on what to have for dinner. Sign me up.
Money is completely gone in these “backwards” societies. Since every member of the community gets fed, clothed and housed, money is irrelevant, which means no more Ponzi schemes, lotteries, taxes or fiscal cliffs.
Then, there’s the convention where the community assigns you your role. That’s right. They give you a job based upon your aptitudes and interests and the needs of the whole community. Awesome! No floundering around trying to figure out what you can do well enough to make a living, and yet doesn’t make you want to peel your own fingernails off. Plus, no job interviews or unemployment, and you are automatically making a meaningful and valuable contribution for the whole society. Sure, you might only get to live to middle age because the community rules “put you out to pasture” at a relatively young age, but, none of your years were spent worrying about retirement, making a difference, or getting a promotion.
And, don’t worry about picking a spouse. Nope. Your community’s got you covered. So long as you don’t have congenital defects, they’ll assign you a suitable mate. None of the inconvenience of dating, the pain of rejection, or lying on your online dating profile, they’ll hook you up with someone compatible. No one has to go through life without someone to help get the stuff off the top shelf, or kill the spiders, or take out the trash.
There’s no use thinking the perfect world is just a cataclysm away, or that it even exists. I’ll just be glad I’ve got books and freedom to take risks and worry about groceries.
Well, at least I’ve got books.
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