Role of books in dystopian and PA stories

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Role of books in dystopian and PA stories

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Jul 14, 2019, 5:38pm

I have noticed that in much of the dystopian/post-apocalyptic things I read books almost always play a role, sometimes a significant one. The classic is F-451 by Ray Bradbury. In some the main character(s) stumble across a long forgotten library that may have been protected from the elements and rediscover an endless supply of knowledge (Earth Abides by George Stewart). Others are not so lucky and only fragments remain. (Anthem by Ayn Rand) Sometimes a group will be trying to protect books from outside destructive forces. In some stories it is only the elites who have access to books - to protect others from dangerous ideas.

Anyone else notice this?

Edited: Jul 14, 2019, 7:28pm

Interesting observation! I am on to Book 2 in The Strain trilogy, The Fallen, and a rare book has just turned up. In recent read, The Farm, the protagonist is keeping a secret diary.

Now I will be in the alert for this!

Edited: Aug 11, 2019, 1:19pm

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Jul 14, 2019, 7:33pm

Similar theme in the movie "The Book of Eli".

Edited: Jul 14, 2019, 10:55pm

And again in the classic A Canticle For Leibowitz

Edited: Jul 19, 2019, 9:59pm

1984, grandaddy of dystopians, is full of references to newspapers and books, the content of which must be expunged or changed to suit current political expediency.

I suppose any first-person dystopian suggests a secret record/book is being kept, for ex., The Unit, Never Let Me Go, The Handmaid's Tale.

Jul 19, 2019, 8:31pm

>6 nohrt4me2: The touchstone for The Unit leads to a DVD about a group of special operations soldiers. Could the title be for something else?

Edited: Jul 19, 2019, 10:00pm

>7 LamSon: Thanks. Fixed. The Unit is by Swedish writer Ninni Holmqvist.

Jul 30, 2019, 9:39am

You reminded me of a scene in Lucifer's Hammer and I had to hunt it down. The Hamner-Brown Comet has struck earth and one of the characters, Dan Forrester, a genius engineer has little hopes of surviving the after-effects, as he has insulin dependent diabetes. But he quadruple zip-locks pertinent pieces of his library and stashes them in an abandoned septic tank for future retrieval. (starting at page 272) As he goes off searching for surviving community, he carries with him The Way Things Work Volume 2 as a negotiating point.

Aug 2, 2019, 2:37pm

>9 2wonderY: At least his insulin problem has an apocalyptic origin and not as a result of predatory big pharma or crappy insurance!

Aug 11, 2019, 9:33am

Sorry to come to this conversation so late. I think it is common because, well, how many other sources are there for information? Most of the books were written in or set in a pre or post-digital age, so finds are in paper form. I wonder if there are some out there where someone returns to the 90s and unearths a stockpile of 3 1/2 inch floppy disks, LOL. I suppose someone might unearth brains preserved for the purpose of preservation of knowledge (I thought I remembered Greg Bear's Heads preserving them for that reason, but my husband remembers it differently and his literary memory is better than mine.

Didn't Canticle only have a shopping list and circuit design? It's been ages since I read that. The juvenile trilogy, City of Ember had the kids finding an old library.

Aug 11, 2019, 7:01pm

> 11 I can see where you are coming from. If I remember correctly, in Summer of the Apocalypse the 'survivors' used some high tech gizmos to preserve knowledge. I always prefer hard copies to anything digital so I am biased toward that form of knowledge preservation when reading PA/dystopia stuff.

Aug 12, 2019, 10:10am

The librarians in Terminal Uprising … Dang! I don't want to give away plot points!

I recommend it though. But you have to read Terminal Alliance first.

I can give you the overarching situation. Humans become infected with a virus that makes them go feral. Another intergalactic species, the Krakau, works at reversing the effects of the virus and enlists rehabbed humans in their fight against the xenocidal Prodryan race. The human team at the center of the stories are janitors/maintenance people, not front line soldiers, unlike most other humans in the story. They are freakin' awesome … and funny!