Tag Archives: post-apocalypse

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.

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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.

Attention LibraryThing Winners

26 Aug

If you’re one of the lucky winners of my recent LibraryThing giveaway for episode #1 and you want to receive a complimentary copy of episode 2 – 5, please signup for the mailing list. This offer is valid until September 10, 2013. Thanks!

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How I Lost My Friend To Prostitution

9 Aug

ProstituteKaren was only 15 when she was seduced by a pimp, but she was one of my closest friends. I’ll never forget the scars on her face, and the black circles under her eyes, and the fear in her voice when she spoke of him. But I also remember how she needed him to need her and want her. She was lost without him. She was dead without him. And the irony was that he probably would have killed her if she dared leave him. When I wrote New Hope City, I often thought about my friend Karen. I wondered how she had fallen into the pimp’s snare.  And when I look back, I would say that she was much like Sunni, the main character in New Hope City, in that her descent into the hell of prostitution began in a place that’s supposed to be safe – home.

Parents Play Dumb

Some parents are just too busy to uhm…well, to parent. They’ve got their own lives. Or, maybe their life hasn’t turned out the way they wanted and they want their kid to make it a little easier. My friend Karen had a parent like that. She was an only child and her mom was a single parent, and of course they didn’t have much money. Her mom liked to keep boyfriends around, and if she was real nice to them they would leave a few dollars on the nightstand. That could pay the light bill or buy a bag of groceries, but it also made the boyfriends feel entitled to more than just Karen’s mom. They took liberties with Karen too, and her mom would just play dumb, like she didn’t see anything.

Pimps Seem Nice – By Comparison

I’m not too sure about when Karen first started having problems with her mom’s boyfriends, I just know that one Summer she just seemed different, quiet, somber, and maybe even a little angry. That’s when she met Juan, that’s what people called him, but I’m pretty sure that wasn’t his real name. Everyone in the neighborhood knew that he was no good. No one ever used the word pimp to describe him, but we all knew that’s what he was. When Karen’s mood first started to improve I thought that maybe things had gotten better at home, that she had been able to get the men to stop “messing with her” as she always described it, but when she told me that Juan had given her a pair of new (and expensive) sneakers I knew she was headed for trouble.  Juan’s string of gifts made my friend happy but they also made her stupid, well stupid for him. She started hanging out late. And then she stopped hanging out with me and her other friends. And from there things went downhill. Rumors spread that she was “fooling around” with grown men and that she had moved in with Juan. That was the last time I saw Karen. She didn’t even show up for school that Fall.

There Are No Angels

In the movies, prostituted teens are portrayed as innocent victims worthy of a savior. They’re usually kidnapped or somehow forced into “the life.”  But the reality of teen prostitution is a lot more murky.  Prostituted girls like my friend aren’t perfect. They’re flawed and damaged which makes them do things that flawed and damaged people do. These girls may seem like troubled kids, stealing, lying, fighting and engaging in promiscuous sex. And it’s these things that make people less likely to see them as worthy of saving.  Just like my old friend, they get lost. And just like my old friend, they may face an early and tragic end.  But when I wrote New Hope City I wanted to talk about a girl like Karen, someone who may be damaged and flawed but who is in fact worthy of a savior.

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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.

Published: After The Darkness – Episode 5

1 Jul

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The 5th episode in the After The Darkness series has been published on Amazon. ETA: Also available on Nook. It will be available at other retailers later this week.

Attention LibraryThing Winners

17 May

If you’re one of the lucky winners of my recent LibraryThing giveaway for episode #3 and #4 of “After The Darkness,” please note that you will receive a free Smashwords coupon to download your copy of the books (in the format of your choice) by Monday, May 20, 2013. Thanks for your patience! If you’re a winner of the giveaway and you want to receive a complimentary copy of episode 1 and 2, please signup for the mailing list. Thanks!

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