Monday, July 1, 2013

Stand Out or Fade Away: Patriotism in a Dystopian World

So this is the week we will celebrate the birth of our country and the glory it has been since its inception. I come from a very patriotic family. My great-grandfathers on both sides fought on World War II and I have had lots of family in the military since then as well. So, in celebration, many of my posts this week will have a patriotic bent, and I may start out each one with a true story about the patriots in my family, or just a patriotic story in general.

For today, I'll just integrate the story into the dystopian post.

So you all know I write (and read!) dystopian, which has become a hot genre over the past few years. And why is that? I've written extensively why I think it is, but what it comes down to is that people want to be able to fight for their rights. Most of us aren't called upon in our day-to-day lives to do so, but we envision worlds where our basic rights are no more, and our characters must take on entire governments and make their world a better place.

What better time to have a discussion about dystopia than around the time of our country's birthday? One of my grandfathers was a forward artillery scout during World War II. That means that he went behind enemy lines to look for their weapons. That way, the American soldiers would have some idea where the enemy fire would be coming from. It was one of the most dangerous jobs in the military, but he did it and survived the war. In fact, he did this job at Normandy in the pre-dawn before D-Day. He survived it, and the storming of the beaches, and came home to work a trade, raise a family, and have a long life (he's still alive today and in his 90s). 

As I said, most of us aren't required to do such heroic things, but obviously we as a culture like to think about what we would do if put in a situation where we might have to. This is where dystopian literature comes from. What if our rights were gone, our world was in shambles, and the very essence of our identity--whether as an individual, a nation, or a race--was threatened? Would we take the easy route by fading into the background and going with the flow? Or would we do what so many heroes have done before us by standing up for what was right and distinguishing themselves from the fearful, compliant horde?

In my dystopian novel, Persistence of Vision, the attack does come physically, but it's more concentrated on mental aspects, emotions, and individuality. A tagline I often use to go with the story has to do with being forced to make a choice between being and individual or not being anyone at all: Stand out, or fade away...

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...
Amazon Link HERE

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So, if our world suddenly became dystopian, what would YOU choose?


  1. I think you're right that one reason we love dystopians so much is that the characters are always fighting for a better world and for freedom. This is a great post for the holiday week.

  2. You are very right about wanting to fight for a better world and freedom being so important to us. Even those of us who 'take it for granted' get that freedom is paramount because wanting to be free to make our own choices is ingrained in our systems. Maybe not so much in the generations now, I'm not sure? But in mine I know. I love this back-story in your family. He is a very brave man for sure. Thank you so much for sharing with us! Jaclyn @ JC's Book Haven.