All posts by Ellen Zwartkruis

Reading Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi has made me more aware of the environmental issues that are facing our society today. Ship Breaker is set in a post-apocalyptic future where human civilization is in decline due to ecological reasons. Sea levels have risen by huge amounts due to the melting of the polar ice caps leaving New Orleans under water. Huge storms, known as city killers, became worse every year destroying everything that the ship breaker’s had.

After reading about the consequences that could potentially occur and what a possible society could look like, I decided to do some more research on the topic. What I found was very alarming and made me more aware of the environmental consequences of global warming. The arctic ice is already melting at alarming rates, declining by 13.3 percent per decade. The global temperature is also on the rise, with the ten warmest years on record have occurred since 1998, with last year (2016) being the warmest on record. Both the melting ice and the increase in temperature expanding the sea water, have led to the constant rising of the sea level with a rate of change of 3.4mm per year. These numbers will not be on the decline anytime soon, due to the executed and anticipated changes of the Trump administration.

On March 13, 2017 the first preliminary budget was released which confirmed speculation and outlines deep cuts to U.S. science and environmental agencies. These include EPA, NOAA, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The money will then go to increase defense spending by $54 billion. Without an adequate amount of money, there is little that these agencies can do to help the environment. Only two days later, the EPA administrator and the U.S. Secretary of Transportation announced that they will reconsider era emission requirements for vehicles with model years between 2022 and 2025. This will only keep increasing the amount of air pollution and not helping decrease the effects of global warming. These are only some examples of what the Trump administration has already done and who knows what he will do in the future.

Ship Breaker made me think of the consequences of global warming and made me realize that it is imperative that we take actions to keep this from happening. From now on, I will be more conscious of the way I am polluting the world and always try to be and to encourage others to be more environmentally friendly.

Works Cited

Bacigalupi, Paolo. Ship Breaker. London, Atom, 2011.

Throughout my research, I encountered several interesting sources that I found to be credible and useful for my research paper on technological advances. After listening to all the conference presentations, I noticed that several other people talked about the different applications of technology in dystopian literature. After going through my sources, I feel that the article “From Utopia to Dystopia: Technology, Society and What We Can Do About It” might be useful to those who discussed the uses of technology and its consequences in YA dystopias.

The article was written by Alejandro Garcia De La Garza and discusses the progression of technological advancement from the second half of the twentieth century to now. It was first assumed that technological advances would continue to improve living conditions without any problems, but Garza argues that these advances also brought security challenges. The dream of technology curing disease and ending poverty is not being accomplished. Instead, technology is advancing way too quickly for society to keep up with controlling and understanding it. The article also provides examples of how certain innovations that were meant to enhance our lives, actually intensify the problems modern society faces.

Garza is providing valuable information that can be used in an argument that even though technology can achieve great things, one has to be careful when it is advancing too fast for society to keep up. Using real world examples of how technology is affecting our society in a negative way is building Garza’s ethos and can therefore be taken as a valuable source. The author has an MA in conflict, security and development and is therefore knowledgeable about the topic that he was writing about. This article was a great source for my research project and for some of your projects because it shows how our society is affected by technological advances and how that can lead to a potential dystopia.

Works Cited

Garza, Alejandro Garcia De La. “From Utopia to Dystopia: Technology, Society and What We Can Do About It.” OpenSecurity, 20 Dec. 2013.

After having read several dystopian novels, I noticed that in most of them there is a prominent presence of advanced technology. The types of technology and its usage varied slightly from novel to novel, but they mostly seemed to be technology that is similar to what exists now or could be feasible in the near future. ­Technology is very powerful. It can be used to improve people’s lives and provide safety for a society. Some examples include elevators, cars, medicine, and security cameras. However, if taken too far, which is the case in dystopian novels, it is usually used for surveillance, control, and oppression.

When writing literature, authors often reflect their personal situation or society into their writing. They can criticize or explain any number of topics, including but not limited to government, society, race, technology, and human behavior. In dystopian literature, writers often focus on future societies, explaining the destruction of the current society and government. Are the authors criticizing our scientific improvements and technological advancements? How are dystopian novels portraying the future of our society? Can scientific development be taken too far? These are questions that I am asking myself and I would like to research more about.

In my independent reading book, Delirium, by Lauren Oliver, love has been declared a dangerous disease by the government. A cure has been perfected and everyone has had the procedure by the time they turn eighteen. This medical advancement along with restrictions on the intranet, and the type of music and books allowed allows the government complete control over its citizens.

Other types of everyday technology such, as cameras, toll passes, computer bugs, that exist already, were said to be used in Little Brother to track peoples’ every move, in order to track down the terrorists, but instead it seemed like the whole society was just constantly being monitored. The use of cameras for surveillance was also the case in The Hunger Games. While in the arena, each tribute was being monitored through every move they made.

Works Cited

Collins, Suzanne. The Hunger Games. Scholastic Press, 2008.

Oliver, Lauren. Delirium. Harper, 2011.

In dystopias, many authors use propaganda in their societies to show how the citizens can be controlled. Propaganda plays a central role in keeping the ruling government or leader in power. It provides them with a way to keep the citizens in order and providing them with only the necessary information.

Suzanne Collins uses quite a lot of propaganda in the novel, The Hunger Games. One of the first occurrences is the short film shown at the beginning of the reaping. It is a speech by President Snow to remind the districts of the terrible war and the uprising, which then led to a new era which included peace. To protect the districts and to remind them that freedom has a cost, the Hunger Games are held annually. They glorify sending tributes to their deaths by stating that they are fighting for “honor, courage, and sacrifice.” The capitol also mentions that the single victor is promised riches which “serves as a reminder of our [the capitol’s] generosity and our forgiveness.”

In the film, Snow appeals to all the districts, even though they are all very different from each other. There are the poor districts such as District 12, who will relate to the beginning of the film when war and hardships are mentioned and that the Capitol provides food to the districts and without them, the poor would be even poorer. The districts where the Careers come from, will relate more to the second half of the film, when Snow mentions the fight for glory, and honor. They prepare for the games and even have volunteers to be tributes in the games.

Even though the history of Panem is described in the propaganda video, the Capitol makes sure not to provide the districts with too much information. A war is mentioned, however, the cause of the rebellion is not revealed. The Capitol picks and chooses what information to reveal to its citizens and also requires everyone to watch these broadcasted films, to ensure that everyone receives the information that they want the citizens to know and to remind them that they are in control and that the districts need the Capitol for protection and survival.

Works Cited:

Collins, Suzanne. The Hunger Games. Scholastic Press, 2008.

The definition of dystopia is quite complex and it is often confused with those of utopia, science fiction, horror, post-apocalypse, and several others. One online definition is “an imagined place or state in which everything is unpleasant or bad, typically a totalitarian or environmentally degraded one.” This is a very negative view of a place. Propaganda is used to control the citizens of the society and the citizens do not know what the world is like outside of their society. There is constant surveillance, and the citizens are to conform to uniform expectations where individuality is frowned upon.

While dystopias and utopias are complete opposite, the perspective taken on a society can change whether something is categorized as a dystopia or a utopia. A utopia is “an imaginary and indefinitely remote place; a place of ideal perfection especially in laws, government, and social conditions.” For the ruler or government in charge of the place, the society can seem like a perfect and ideal place, a utopia. The citizens, on the other hand can be poor, miserable, and living a harsh life and view their society as a dystopia.

Dystopias are often confused with other genres. One big misunderstanding is that dystopias and science fiction are often confused with one another. In many dystopian societies there is advanced scientific technology and they are usually set in the future so it is easily confused as being a work of science fiction. Even in my experience with the dystopias that I have read, including The Hunger Games, and The Divergent series, they all included some kind of science fiction aspect.

Dystopias are often combined with the YA genre, which creates a more relatable storyline, since it does not limit the audience to a certain age group. YA novels usually include a protagonist in their age range who experiences similar things that a young adult would, including first love, family relations, and competitions. Older people can also relate to these stories, since they were young at one point in their lives. YA dystopia makes the problems relatable to a large audience in an easy to read format for everyone to enjoy.

“Utopia.” Merriam-Webster, Merriam-Webster,
“Dystopia.” English Oxford Living Dictionaries, English Oxford Living Dictionaries,
“Dystopias: Definition and Characteristics.” ReadWriteThink. NCTE/IRA, 2006,