Tag Archives: poverty

5 Signs That Your City Is Becoming A Post-Apocalyptic Hell Zone

31 Jul

As much as most of us won’t admit it, the financial and social well-being of America is on the decline in many cities. That’s why you must immediately recognize the signs that the little cute dystopia you call home may be turning into a real life post-apocalyptic hell zone.

Sign #1 – You have two bachelor’s degrees, one master’s degree, an IQ of 200 and you’re a card carrying member of Mensa and you still can’t find a job. Even most dystopias need to hire someone to pull the torture lever when interrogating members of the resistance. So, if you can’t find work, you’re probably living in a post-apocalyptic hell zone.

Sign #2 – You’re the only living soul in a 20 mile radius and you don’t live in rural America. If you find that all your neighbors have moved away and left their houses to rot and become infested with rats and vicious criminals, then your city has definitely moved from a sweet dystopia filled with romance and good feelings to a full out apocalyptic nightmare.

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Sign #3 – You’ve gone to great lengths to make your home appear to be filled with an extended family of 30, plus a vicious dog when in reality it’s just you, your elderly mom and a three-legged mutt named Tiger. If you find yourself working overtime to give the appearance that someone is home by running lights, TV’s, radios, and random sounds streamed from your laptop because you fear that someone will strip your home right down to the frame while you’re on the street collecting scrap metal, then you probably live in a post-apocalyptic city.

Sign #4 – You’re dodging bullets on your way to the mailbox. If you’re always looking over your shoulder for fear that someone is following you, or if you’re wearing a bulletproof vest anytime you go to the bank, then your city is probably a post-apocalyptic hell hole.

Sign #5 – Even the postman won’t deliver your mail. The American postal system promises to deliver mail rain or shine, even in the event of a nuclear holocaust. So, if your postman hasn’t shown up to deliver your mail in years, you’re definitely trapped in a post-apocalyptic city.

Post-apocalyptic cities like the one in my novel New Hope City don’t get that way overnight. They get there over a long period of time. It’s like a cancer eating away at the fabric of the society, day by day. If you’re smart you’ll recognize the signs and get out while you still can. Do you live in a post-apocalyptic city? If so, share your experiences and/or photos, if you dare.

SunHi Mistwalker writes fiction set in dystopian 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 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.

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.

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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.