Community Week: Guest Post By A.J. Powers
I met A.J. Powers through twitter. After seeing his book a few times and interacting with him I decided to pick up a copy of As The Ash Fell. I was pleasantly surprised. The Post-Apocalyptic book was a simple, unpretentious book, but was full of some great thoughts and some powerful points. I actually caught myself tearing up at one point (and I'm not a book crier) My favorite thing about A.J. Power's writing was his choice to avoid using an anti-hero protagonist or to take a cynical approach to his world, despite the dark story. Often "good" men are written as nieve or weak, but the protagonist is As the Ash Fell is neither. It was a refreshing choice and really let me dig into the book.
I will be picking up more of Power's books for sure and I suggest that you do as well. A.J. Powers was nice enough to provide a blog post for Community Week. I love hosting talented authors on my blog and I'm delighted to share this post. If you want to find out more about A.J. Powers you can find him on his website, as well as on twitter. His books are available on Amazon. Enjoy this post about Dystopian books.
Why Do We Love Dystopian
As a writer, there are numerous reasons why I love writing Dystopians. For one, readers can’t seem to get enough of them. Despite a saturated market, and being up against a lot of talented authors, people still buy my books. Why? Because it’s fun to read the thousands of different ways people envision the apocalypse happening. And while there’s only so many ways to destroy the world, or to kill off mankind, each person sees the minute details of such an event differently. It constantly breathes new life into the genre that should have long since fizzled out.
But what makes us, as readers, so interested in the doomsday scenarios that we so often see in books and film? That’s a question that will vary from person to person, but I think there are a couple of common denominators that most people will think about when asked. And one of the big ones is:
Because it could happen.
No, I don’t believe the zombie apocalypse will ever be upon us. At least, not the way we see it. But a zombie apocalypse of a different kind could be possible. I explored this concept in my book, Human Element, which is in a world where smartphones and computers have been replaced by a webbing of microchips implanted in the brain, allowing the individual’s brain itself to act as a computer. And where there’s technology, there’s a hacker waiting to crack into it. And there have been dozens of headlines since releasing the book that have shown this technology is actually no longer speculative fiction. It’s happening.
Do I think that scenario will happen, either? Nope. Not likely, anyway. But life is sometimes stranger than fiction, so who knows what else could go wrong with such technology. The things that I am more inclined to believe will happen is a major natural disaster (such as earthquakes or super volcanoes, and even famine) or man-made destruction, such as nuclear detonations/EMPs, war, and financial collapse. These scenarios are only speculative in the sense that it hasn’t happened on a catastrophic scale just yet. But disaster could just be around the corner—we can never know.
As I asked before, why do we continue reading a genre that has a finite amount of ways to create (or, rather, destroy) a world? Because the story is not really about the world, but the characters in it. Yes, the world, and events that are changing the world, play a big factor into the story, but if we were just reading through a transcript of a series of events that unfolded, we’d toss the book in the trash. We keep reading because we want to go through what these characters go through. Struggle with them during their trials, and hope that they come out on top. And I think that right there is the biggest factor. Most dystopian books are grounded in just enough reality that we don’t have to stretch the imagination too far to put ourselves in the protagonist’s shoes. But is just far enough for it to still be fiction…
This is just one man’s opinion, though. Your mileage may vary.