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End of the World As We Know It: What's the Draw of Dystopian Sci-Fi?

Grim sci-fi and speculative fiction tales are often rooted in scenarios of oppression, moral disintegration or even total social collapse — from the perpetual surveillance and menace of "Big Brother" in George Orwell's "1984," to the deadly state-sanctioned battles fought by desperate children in Suzanne Collins' "The Hunger Games" trilogy. But as bleak as these stories are, they have captivated readers and writers alike for decades. What drives authors to imagine these broken futures, and what might explain their enduring popularity? On Oct. 6, a panel of writers at New York Comic Con (NYCC) explored their own relationships with dystopian sci-fi, and what characters who navigate dire situations in futuristic but degraded environments under totalitarian control can tell us about our world today — and about ourselves. Some authors of dystopian sci-fi write to exorcise their own fears about how the future might go horribly wrong, panelist Lauren Oliver explained. But many also find that the genre allows them to address contemporary issues that might otherwise be too uncomfortable to confront, Oliver said. In her book "Ringer" (HarperCollins, 2017), Oliver uses a plot about cloning to highlight the topic of inequality, and to point out how some people in society are considered expendable — a grave problem that we face today, she told the audience at NYCC.

Read More: Live Science

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