Posts Tagged With: dystopian

Ready for Steampunk Fantasy?

There has been a parade of mind-numbingly similar dystopian films out of Hollywood. Here’s one from Russia that would give them a run for their money. Abigail takes the typical dystopian scenario and infuses it with fantasy and a bit of steampunk. Not sure why they filmed this in English only to dub using different English, but impressive film nonetheless. Especially with a budget a tiny fraction of the typical, over-priced, dull fest we’re used to.


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A Time to Rise

Nadine Brandes‘ third book in her dystopian Out of Time series, A Time to Rise is only days from release. If you haven’t been following the tale of Parvin Blackwater, read my reviews of book 1 and book 2. Sorry to see the series conclude, but can’t wait to see how it does end. Available for pre-order now.

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Kat Bloodmayne is Tainted

Kat Bloodmayne has a secret. She has the power within her to use nature as a weapon. Problem is that she doesn’t know where the power came from or how to control it all that well. People around her are getting hurt, and worse now that she is being hunted for her power.

Hunted by someone she knows well, protected by a man who may not be on her side and running in a world where the darkness is far more sinister than she she could have imagined.

This is Morgan L. Busse‘s new book Tainted. Set in a dystopian steampunk world — think Victorian with airships where science and the old world clash and converge.

Also think fantasy with a bit of Frankenstein simmering in the background.

I was very impressed with Morgan’s new page turner. There have many repetitive attempts at dystopia in book and film, and many failures or not-quite-there steampunk attempts. Morgan doesn’t succumb to these pitfalls and creates an original story in a well-realized world. I could see this story playing out on the big screen and Morgan has certainly established herself as a storyteller to pay attention to.

And Kat Bloodmayne is not a heroine to be trifled with.

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A Time to Speak

Even though some of my favorite books are old-school dystopian — A Brave New World, 1984, Fahrenheit 451 — I haven’t picked up many of the new wave of books in this genre. One exception has been Nadine BrandesOut of Time series. I reviewed book one, A Time to Die here. Book two, A Time to Speak continues chronicling the life of Parvin Blackwater.

Parvin lives in a future where the world was devastated by disaster. All she knows of civilization is walled in from the rest of the world and run by an oppressive government. The rulers control the population through Clocks. Each person knows when their life will end as their Clock counts down. Parvin was only months away from the end and her life hasn’t amounted to much. In book one, we saw how she began to change that, facing perils she never could have imagined. The true nature of the world she lived in also began to reveal itself.

I don’t want to give too much about this book and reveal the ending of the first for those who haven’t read it. I will say, Parvin has not quit on changing the fate of her people even though events have become much worse. With the Council packing people up and shipping them off to an unknown fate — which reminded me of 1930s Germany — Parvin struggles with being anyone’s leader. People are also dying before their Clocks expire. Her journey will take her to distant parts of the globe and force her to decide if she will lead, and speak, regardless of the risk to herself.

Brandes continues a well-realized, character-centric story with Parvin. Not that the other characters aren’t important or without depth, but Parvin drives this tale. You want to see what happens to her next, her choices and her changes. While her dystopian world will be familiar to genre fans, and Parvin follows that reluctant hero path, it’s her journey that sets her apart from the others. Stories like this are one reason why people write and read:

To remind us to evaluate our own journey on this world.


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Time Is Running Out

“People are allowing themselves to place time above life.” Parvin Blackwater should know, her Clock is counting down to her last day. She’s always known when the end would be, but she won’t let it define her. “I want…to be remembered.” This is the core of Nadine Brandes‘ novel A Time to Die, a refreshingly original entry into the crowded dystopian genre.

The world has been shattered by a global disaster and the nation is divided. A wall divides the East and the West. There are cities outside the wall, but desolate areas where people have regressed to primitive cultures. Parvin and her family are at the bottom of society inside the Wall. The elites who rule the society that rose from the ashes control the population through Clocks. Each person knows when the end will be as their Clock counts down (somewhat reminiscent of the film In Time). Eighteen-year-old Parvin is only months away from the end and her life hasn’t amounted to much. She is determined to change that in what time she has left.

We have a typical dystopian background, but instead of that overwhelming the story, Nadine Brandes focuses in on Parvin’s journey. It’s not an easy one, with some moments that will take you aback. There’s more depth in this character’s pilgrimage than in similar books. Not the simple “rise against the oppressors” story, Parvin must learn who she is and what she believes if she is to learn her place in the world. Told perfectly in the first person, we get to see her struggle with belief, with God, doubt and with what she encounters outside the Wall. Yes, like the female protagonists in those other books, Parvin is challenged beyond anything a normal person would face. Here, though, it isn’t all that obvious where this will lead. Maybe she will challenge the oppressors, indirectly or directly, but she’s certainly not taken the well-worn route of her contemporaries (in other novels, that is).

By approaching the dystopian tale from a different path, and themes of time, finding one’s place in the Story and of belief, Brandes has begun a captivating epic.


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Burroughs’ Dystopian Earth

Edgar Rice Burroughs is best known for his pulp-sci-fi Barsoom series (John Carter of Mars) and Tarzan. His swashbuckling heroes and their over-the-top adventures influenced countless authors and movies ever since. He’s not known for dystopian tales like those so popular today. Yet, before Orwell and Huxley, he wrote one, a lesser known book, The Moon Men.

A sequel to The Moon Maid, it takes a decidedly different tone than that volume. Maid is the typical Burroughs adventure: Hero finds himself in perilous situations, always perseveres and rescues the girl in the end. In Men, Flash forward a few centuries after these events, and we find Earth invaded and conquered.

Earth, after its own wars, had created “peace” by disarming all. The world’s militaries also all abandoned. A world lulled into a false Eden, ripe for someone to take advantage of it. What follows is a subjugated population who worships in secret, books are rare and people are stolen by those aligned with the invaders. Fall out of line and face death and being fed to the alien race. But Julian has had enough.

Burroughs, writing in the 1920s, had seen the destructive Great War and writes of the follies of war in the first book, but also of the futility of pretending evil is conquered and peace can be forced. He then shows how tyranny can begin to falter because of one man. The master of pulp fiction showed that this genre could give us as much to think about as any “literary” work.

And any worthwhile book should entertain and make us think.


Categories: Books, Fiction, Writing | Tags: , , , , | 4 Comments

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