Poverty As A Form of Social Control

17 Apr

One of my favorite themes to explore in post-apocalyptic fiction is social collapse and social control. I’m specifically interested in how poverty is used as a form of social control in dystopian societies. I’ve given this some thought and I’ve come to believe that in any society that has a social hierarchy, you will have some form of poverty and that this lack of access to resources is often used as a form of social control. Below I explore a few of my thoughts on this matter.

Difference Stands OutWhen we think of poverty we think of starvation, homelessness, living in unsafe neighborhoods and lacking the essential resources of life. But poverty can also mean a lack of access to channels of power, lack of status and lack of recognition. Poverty takes many shapes in both real and fictional worlds. Poverty is also relative and therefore a state of mind. Think about it: Someone living in a rural village where no one has electricity may have a different idea of what poverty is, while someone living in the US would immediately consider themselves poor if they were no longer able to afford their electric bill. In that sense poverty is relative. Now taking this idea a little further, outside of the basics such as food, water, shelter and relative safety, everything else we “need” is in fact a manufactured need. The electricity we need is there because so many things in our lives depend on it—the ability to keep our food fresh, to plug in our computers which some of us use for work, to charge our phones which we use to communicate.   When these necessities (including the basics) are unaffordable or scarce we experience poverty. Social control rears its ugly head when those people in power use their control of resources bolster their own personal power and/or to force others to make choices they wouldn’t normally make. If you can control a human being’s access to food, water, and sense of safety you can exert serious power over his decisions.

In my futuristic, dystopian novel New Hope City, a small, southern city is in a state of collapse. Most citizens struggle to get the basics such as food, water and shelter, and most live with the constant fear of losing what little they have. And because both crime and corruption go unchecked, most citizens live with an unrelenting sense of terror and desperation. It’s under these circumstances that the main character, Sunni Brown, tries to eke out a life. But because of her desperate circumstances she’s become easy pickings for those in power. It’s her poverty that allows her to be exploited. In New Hope City, the people in power profit from the suffering of others, so they have no incentive to improve the city’s living conditions.

In my science fiction serial “After The Darkness” I explore several themes, but one of them is the use of social status as a form of social money_controlcontrol. In this post-apocalyptic future, people are separated into “levels” with the highest levels having the most access to resources and the lowest levels have virtually no access. The people in power use social status to control the will of the people. In the beginning of the serial, the main character, Nadia, is stripped of her higher status and made to live at the bottom of society. This punishment is a warning to others who would dare to question the choices of the people in control. It’s this type of social control that allows the city leaders unchecked power to do horrendous things in the name of keeping order or honoring the sacrifices of their ancestors. By threatening their citizens with poverty and the loss of status they can make them bend to their will.

While I don’t believe that poverty as a form of social control renders any human being completely helpless, I do believe it leaves them with limited and very difficult choices. I’m looking forward to exploring this theme further in my future post-apocalyptic and dystopian fiction.

SunHi Mistwalker writes fiction set in dystopic and post-apocalyptic worlds. Her new novel New Hope City, a dark coming-of-age story set in a post-apocalyptic America, follows the life of Sunni Brown, a teenage girl exploited by sex traffickers who tries to get a fresh start when she meets a disillusioned cop. She is also the author of the science fiction series After The Darkness. Please sign up for the mailing list for receive updates, freebies and special discounts. You can also follow SunHi on Twitter and Facebook.

After The Darkness: Beta Reader Feedback Positive So Far

16 Apr

The sixth episode of After The Darkness is still out with some beta readers, but so far I’m receiving positive feedback. Once the remaining beta readers respond by the 18th, the ebook should be available by the beginning of May. In other news, I’m working on the sequel to New Hope City and another new standalone scifi novel. I look forward to releasing these books this year.  Have a good holiday this weekend!

SunHi Mistwalker writes fiction set in dystopic and post-apocalyptic worlds. Her new novel New Hope City, a dark coming-of-age story set in a post-apocalyptic America, follows the life of Sunni Brown, a teenage girl exploited by sex traffickers who tries to get a fresh start when she meets a disillusioned cop. She is also the author of the science fiction series After The Darkness. Please sign up for the mailing list for receive updates, freebies and special discounts. You can also follow SunHi on Twitter and Facebook.

After The Darkness: Episode Six Finally Done

19 Mar

I am finally done with After The Darkness: Episode Six and it will be going out to Beta Readers by next Friday. Please signup for the mailing list to receive a notification of when this episode is published.

SunHi Mistwalker writes fiction set in dystopic and post-apocalyptic worlds. Her new novel New Hope City, a dark coming-of-age story set in a post-apocalyptic America, follows the life of Sunni Brown, a teenage girl exploited by sex traffickers who tries to get a fresh start when she meets a disillusioned cop. She is also the author of the science fiction series After The Darkness. Please sign up for the mailing list for receive updates, freebies and special discounts. You can also follow SunHi on Twitter and Facebook.

I’m Still Here – Just Busy

30 Jan

I just wanted to send an update to everyone about upcoming books. The 6th episode of “After The Darkness” is almost done. I’m currently working on the final pages and will be sending it to beta readers soon. I appreciate everyone’s enthusiasm and patience. The follow-up book for “New Hope City” is still in the works, I’m in the beginning stages with it. Please signup for the mailing list to find out when these books are available.

SunHi Mistwalker writes fiction set in dystopic and post-apocalyptic worlds. Her new novel New Hope City, a dark coming-of-age story set in a post-apocalyptic America, follows the life of Sunni Brown, a teenage girl exploited by sex traffickers who tries to get a fresh start when she meets a disillusioned cop. She is also the author of the science fiction series After The Darkness. Please sign up for the mailing list for receive updates, freebies and special discounts. You can also follow SunHi on Twitter and Facebook.

Happy Thanksgiving! (Yeah, I know it’s kinda late)

29 Nov

Happy Thanksgiving!

I feel like it’s been a long time since I updated my blog, but I wanted wish everyone a Happy (belated) Thanksgiving. It has been two years since I started publishing my fiction and I’ll say one thing, I’ve got a lot to be thankful for.

The Gift of Life

I’ve just had another birthday and I’m extremely thankful for the gift of life. In the past few years I’ve lost my mom, my grandfather, and few other friends of friends who definitely left this place well before their time.  Every loss reminds me of just how fleeting life is and that tomorrow isn’t guaranteed. The funny thing about it is that as time passes and I mature, I’m finding myself less stressed, less anxious, and more content with life. I’m learning to enjoy the journey just as much as reaching my destination.

The Gift of Friends and Family

Love is a verb, and there’s nothing like feeling loved and loving towards others. I’m thankful for all those people surrounding me who care about me, pick  me up when I’m down, and remind me that I’m special to them. When it comes to loved ones, I consider myself amongst the lucky few who have people in their life willing to stick with them even in the most difficult times.

The Gift of Writing

You know the old cliché that we’re all given talents and it’s up to us to use them effectively? Well, that’s how I view writing. I consider myself blessed to have the passion and talent for writing and the good foresight to cultivate my skills.

The Gift of Readers

This indie publishing journey has been made amazing, not just by the act of independent publishing, but by all the readers who have bought my stories. I’m eternally grateful to you all. Thank you!

A Few Story Updates

For those of you waiting for After The Darkness: Episode 6 and the sequel to New Hope City, I’m still working on them.  I don’t have a publication date, but signup for my mailing list and I’ll let you know when they’re available.

SunHi Mistwalker writes fiction set in dystopic and post-apocalyptic worlds. Her new novel New Hope City, a dark coming-of-age story set in a post-apocalyptic America, follows the life of Sunni Brown, a teenage girl exploited by sex traffickers who tries to get a fresh start when she meets a disillusioned cop. She is also the author of the science fiction series After The Darkness. Please sign up for the mailing list for receive updates, freebies and special discounts. You can also follow SunHi on Twitter and Facebook.

Poverty Myths Explored

23 Oct

One of the themes I explore in my books is poverty. Most of my main characters are poor or live in a society that has a huge disparity between those with financial resources and those without. While browsing twitter I discovered this interesting article about poverty myths.  Here is a summary of the myths below:

  • Poverty is the fault of the individual, people only have themselves to blame
  • Children from poverty have the same opportunities as children who do not live in poverty
  • Getting a job is the key to avoiding poverty
  • There is no real link between poverty and health
  • We can’t afford to end poverty
  • Job creation and a strong economy will help poor people
  • People who are living in poverty are uneducated

I think the article is worth a read. The article provides its own rebuttal to these myths, but there’s something I want to discuss that often isn’t brought up in these conversations about poverty.  I want to first point out that the cause of poverty is complex. But I believe that one of the root causes of poverty is a disconnection from power bases.  For example, in my novel New Hope City, the protagonist is a poor teen born into poverty. Her poverty makes her a social outcast because some people equate poverty with criminality, lack of moral character and a host of other bad qualities. She can’t make friends with the “rich” kids because she is considered unworthy of friendship by both adults and youth.  A matter of fact, the only friends she can make are the people who are like her and who may be looking to exploit her for their personal gain. And her poverty makes her vulnerable to exploitation. She can be exploited by adults in her small town because she is invisible and considered unworthy of the full protection of the law. Her exploitation is ignored because it is assumed that she is a bad, inferior and less than. And some may assume that she caused her own troubles. And the irony is that because of her lack of social connections and her lack of life experience she does make decisions that deepen her own troubles. But this is how poverty works.  Youth  born into poverty are often cut off from the part of society that could help alleviate their condition. Many impoverished youth are raised by single parents who work several jobs to improve their financial conditions, but they can’t get ahead because they lack skills, social connections or they live in areas with terrible job prospects. Or maybe parents become so depressed and disheartened that they give up and fail to provide for their children.  These kids may even have parents who are themselves troubled emotionally, psychologically or have become burdened with legal troubles. It’s all of these things that can cause impoverished youth to have a stigma placed against them causing them to become isolated from power bases (jobs, resources, social connections) that could help them overcome poverty.

NewHopeCityFinal_thumbnail

SunHi Mistwalker writes fiction set in dystopic and post-apocalyptic worlds. Her new novel New Hope City, a dark coming-of-age story set in a post-apocalyptic America, follows the life of Sunni Brown, a teenage girl exploited by sex traffickers who tries to get a fresh start when she meets a disillusioned cop. She is also the author of the science fiction series After The Darkness. Please sign up for the mailing list for receive updates, freebies and special discounts. You can also follow SunHi on Twitter and Facebook.

Books Removed From Kobo

16 Oct

I don’t know if most of you are aware of this, but many indie published books have been summarily removed from Kobo, this includes all of my books. Kobo has not responded to my email regarding this matter. Please read these excellent articles for more in-depth explanation of what’s happening.

http://indiereader.com/2013/10/banning-books

http://selenakitt.com/blog/index.php/2013/10/15/porn-hunt-2013-gossip-boys-researching-porn-real-hard/

The gist of the issue is that there was some “moral outrage” against erotica books that some people considered obscene. All self-publishers got the axe. It seems that some authors’ titles are being restored, I have not been included in that group at the time of this post.

If you have a Kobo reader and want to purchase any of my books please visit Smashwords and do so there. I apologize for any inconvenience this is causing. And I’m hoping this is resolved soon.

If you are against censorship please sign this petition.

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