Friday, May 27, 2011

Guest Post: Post-Dystopian Writing by Lory Kaufman

Post-Dystopian Writing?!?!

The other week I was talking to a person who said she had really liked The Hunger Games trilogy and that she enjoyed all “dystopian” literature.

“What a coincidence,” I said. “I write “post-dystopian” novels.

“I’ve never heard of post-dystopian before,” she said, a look of interest gleaming in her eyes.

“It’s a phrase I made up to describe what I’m writing. In fact, the first book, The Lens and the Looker, is coming out March 16th, 2011.”

“Cool,” she said. “Oh, I think I saw it advertised on Goodreads in a give-away contest, but I didn’t get time to read what it was about, or what “post-dystopian” writing is.”

“Well, do you know what dystopian literature is?”

“Yes, they’re stories of what could happen if our world society falls apart,” she answered. “Sometimes it’s nuclear war, biological calamity, bacterial plagues, invasions from space, and the story is about how the characters survive the new order or disorder.”

“Excellent answer,” I said.

“And you write post-dystopian stories?” she pursued. “Like I said, I never heard of it and I’ve read almost everything called dystopian.”

“Really? What have your read lately?”

“Oh, besides The Hunger Games, I’ve read Unwind, The Giver, Feed, Uglies and The Adoration of Jeanna Fox.”

“Good choices,” I agree. “They are among the best. How did you get to like that sort of writing?”

“In high school they made us read books like Brave New World, 1984, The Crysalids . . . and what was that one about the kids stuck on the island, where they go feral?” she mused.

“Oh, Lord of the Flies,” I said, with some excitement. “That was my number one fave. In fact, I would say that book inspired me to be a writer.”

“Cool,” she answered. “So, post-dystopian is like post-modern?” she said with a questioning look.

“Exactly. In fact,” I went on, “I would say that people who like all the dystopian books you mentioned should like my post-dystopian stories.”

For some reason, I don’t know why, her eyebrows lowered and she looked a bit . . . miffed.

“So . . . how would you describe it?” she asked.

“Oh, well, like I said, the book is called The Lens and the Looker. It’s the first of a trilogy where three spoiled teens from the 24th century are kidnapped back to 14th century Verona, Italy.”

“Cool,” she said, “but what’s post – . . .”

“Now, the neat thing about this story is the kids are kidnapped from what are called History Camps.”

“History Camps? What are they, and why do the kids come from the 24th century? And what the heck is post -. . .”

“Great questions,” I said, jumping at the chance to practice my elevator pitch. “In the 24th century, humans, with the help of artificial intelligences, have finally created the perfect planetary society. And to make equally perfect citizens for this world, the elders create History Camps. These are full-sized recreations of cities from Earth’s distant pasts. Here teens live the way their ancestors did, dong the same dirty jobs and experiencing the same degradations. History Camps teach youths not to repeat the mistakes that almost caused the planet to die.” The young woman was looking at me intently.

“Ooookay,” she said, drawing the word out. I smiled and sped on.

“In this first book – I told you it was a trilogy, didn’t I – this first book is called The Lens and the Looker. This is where you get to know three teens, Hansum, who’s almost 17. He’s good looking and athletic. Then there’s Shamira. She’s 15, very sassy, and she’s an artistic genius. This is really is important to the story. And there’s Lincoln, the youngest. He’s 14, a smart-aleck, but kind of insecure under all the wise cracks.”

“Cool, but what’s post – . . .”

I put up a hand for silence and babbled.

“So, the three teens are sent to a History Camp that’s built like Verona in the early 14th century. Now, all the people who work there, they don’t just walk around in costume and talk about live in the past, they live it. And the teens that are sent there are given new names and expected to work and live like people away back. But these three disrupt things so badly that they expect, and hope, to be expelled and sent home.”

“Don’t tell me,” she said. “That’s not what happens.”

“Exactly!” I blurted and continued excitedly. “An eccentric time-traveling History Camp counselor from the 31st century comes and kidnaps them back to the real 14th century Verona and abandons them. Abandons them!” I repeated. “Now they have only two choices; adapt to the harsh, medieval ways or – die.” My elevator pitch finished, I crossed my arms and smirked.

“And . . .”

“And what?” I asked.

“Do they die? And for pity sake, what’s post -. . .”

“I can’t tell you if they die. That would be a spoiler. But I can tell you that, to try to survive, they introduce inventions from the future. And even among all the dangers that they run into, Hansum, he falls head over heels in love. Now really, I can’t tell you anymore.”

“Well, you gotta tell me one thing or I’ll stomp your toe!” she threatened.

“What?” I asked, taking a step backward.

“I’ve tried to ask you, like, five or six times. What’s post-dystopian writing?”

“Oh, well you should have asked . . .” She glared at me really hard. “Sorry. I got carried away. Well, the word dystopian, you already described it perfectly. Stories of people surviving the aftermath of the world going to Hell in a hand basket, excuse the cliché. But you see, I’m an optimistic person, so I’m writing novels of how the world successfully struggles to come out of the mess.”

“Oh, post, meaning after. It’s what happens after the dystopian times. Post-dystopian.”

“A natural progression I think. Post-dystopian stories are the exciting adventures of young people creating a world that will last tens of thousands of years.”

“Cool,” she said. “And it’s coming out March 16th?”

“Yep.” I answered.

“I’ll buy it.”

“Thanks. You can learn more, and order it, by going to the website, You can also “like” the History Camp Facebook page ( I hope you enjoy it.”


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