Monday, October 15, 2012

Why Every Dystopia Needs a Superhero

I came across a blog post this week entitled Five Great Superhero Dystopias. It's a great article--very fun--if you want to hop over and check it out, but it got me thinking about the intersection of superhero and dystopian stories.

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I've done posts on this topic before, such as how Batman is always up against a classic dystopia with Gotham City (see my Dark Knight Rises review) but in truth, most classic superhero stories are set in dystopias. Superman has to deal with a world where Kryptonite wreaks havoc. The X-men have both good and bad mutants running around. And let's not even get started on the Watchmen's world.

What about the reverse? Do all dystopias have a superhero? Well, perhaps not in the classical sense. Katniss is beyond awesome but she doesn't have superpowers like Wonder Woman or Mystique.

That said, most dystopian heroes or heroines DO have a special set of skills that allows them to overcome the world around them, and often take on the government or ruling body. Katniss was not only the only girl in her district that could have survived the Hunger Games, but the only girl in all the districts that could have. She used skills her father gave her, as well as her own good sense and intelligence to stay alive, which led to her taking on the Capital at large.

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I've also talked before about how all stories, by definition, are somewhat dystopian. It's an imperfect world in one sense or another, which is why there's a story to begin with.

So what's my point in all this?

To write a great dystopian MC (or perhaps a great MC period) make sure you tie their "superpowers" to how they're going to overcome the problem. The MC's "superpowers" don't have to be classical superpowers like Thor's or Spiderman's, nor do they have to be awesome gadgets like Batman's. Your MC's superpowers might just be a skill or knowledge set like Katniss, or an inborn power that needs to mature or garner confidence ("Use the force, Luke!)

Either way, make sure the MC is the ONLY person who can solve the problem or take on the dystopian element of your world. It makes the stakes higher, the tensions deeper, and the conclusion much more satisfying!

Happy world-building! :D

Loook for my New-Adult Dystopian Novel, Due out Winter 2012-13

In a world where collective hives are enslaving the population and individuals have been hunted to the verge of extinction, Maggie Harper, and independent 21st Century woman, must find the strength to preserve the freedom of the future, but without the aid of her memories.

After experiencing a traumatic time loss, Maggie is plagued by a barrage of images she can't explain. When she's attacked by a creep with a spider's web tattoo, she is saved by Marcus, a man she's never met, but somehow remembers. He tells her that both he and her creepy attacker are from a future in which individuals are being murdered by collectives, and Marcus is part of the rebellion. The collectives have acquired time travel and they plan to enslave the human race throughout all of history. The flashes Maggie has been seeing are echoes of lost memories, and the information buried deep within them is instrumental in defeating the collective hives.

In order to preserve the individuality of mankind, Maggie must try to re-discover stolen memories, re-kindle friendships she has no recollection of, and wade through her feelings for the mysterious Marcus, all while dodging the tattooed assassins the collectives keep sending her way.

If Maggie can't fill the holes in her memory and find the answers to stop the collectives, the world both in her time and in all ages past and future will be doomed to enslavement in the grey, mediocre collectives. As the danger swirls around her and the collectives close in, Maggie realizes she must make a choice: stand out or fade away...

*New Adult futuristic dystopian fantasy