Over the last couple centuries, YA dystopias have evolved characteristically to be, more often than not, set in the future. In turn, dystopias must predict the development of technology, so that melds with the setting. One of the areas I would like to focus on is computers, and how they have played a role in YA dystopia. Its role in dystopias must have changed over time, and I would like to trace how they have changed based on our current growing dependence on them.
The Hunger Games includes many scenes of The Capitol using computer-like devices to manage the tributes.
– Screen used by The Capitol in The Hunger Games.
The tools at their disposal, combined with the integration of those systems, makes it clear that Collins saw the development of technology, and more specifically computers, trended towards this sort of integration. The trackers, health monitors, tributes’ geolocation, forest fire creators, and care package deliveries were all included in the screens The Capitol used during the games. In The 100, people on The Ark can be seen carrying personal devices, a sign that this more recent shift of device integration is widespread among modern sci-fi dystopias.
– Image of screen from The 100.
In Cory Doctorow’s Little Brother, cell phone and computer use is common throughout their society, though more removed from the far-reaching predictions of most science fictions. Diana Peterfreund’s For Darkness Shows the Stars shows a more repressive form of technological use: its outlaw. This “prediction” falls in line with many’s fear of technology, and its power in information distribution. This creates a more bleak vision of our future, where the ruling class can control a population by controlling its technology.
Though there is great variation in how modern YA dystopian authors foresee the future of computers and personal devices, I believe I can find some sort of trend or at the very least categorize it. Our fears of these new and mysterious personal devices are ingrained in our society, and we can examine and predict those fears through YA dystopia.