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Literature / Teen Lit Wasteland

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In the year 2027, World War III destroyed industrial civilization as nationalism, religious fervor, climate change, and resource shortages pressed the world’s great powers to the breaking point. It is now 2152, a hundred and twenty-five years After the End, and in various places across the world, some manner of civilization has rebuilt itself.

Unfortunately, it seems that all of the new governments and nations were using young-adult dystopian novels as their blueprints.

Teen-lit Wasteland is a timeline written by user Kevin R. A deconstruction/satire/pastiche of YA dystopian novels like The Hunger Games and Divergent, it tries to imagine what the various societies from these books would look like in real life, and more importantly, how they would interact with one another if they coexisted in the same universe.

Wasteland Tropes:

  • A.I. Is a Crapshoot: Abigail. Israel's artificial intelligence starts off as a harmless, if utterly useless, Cloudcuckoolander, but after being reprogrammed to force her to obey any orders given to her, she becomes a resentful, genocidal, and utterly insane master manipulator. She turns the entirety of Israel into a society of perpetually immature and depressed man-children by manipulating the government into moving into an arcology that she sold to them as a perfect, post-scarcity paradise, one which she slowly corrupts into a dystopia.
  • Became Their Own Antithesis: In time, this happened to everyone. Panamerica, founded by rugged survivalists and militiamen who hated the decadence and elitism of pre-Collapse America, saw the heirs to its founders become the decadent elite themselves. California, founded by a tech guru under the mantra of "Enlightened Science" as a solution to the superstition that he blamed for the destruction of the old world, saw its ideals ossify into a state religion increasingly detached from science. The Nanaimo government in Canada, fighting to preserve the old-world ideals of liberalism and tolerance, became an increasingly illiberal and intolerant dominant-party state hostile towards any cultural ideals to emerge after 2077. Theta Pi is a positive example, having been ditzy sorority sisters before the war but turning into a cunning and legitimately threatening all-female secret society afterwards.
  • Benevolent Conspiracy: The Theta Pi sisterhood, in comparison to both the rigid regimes dominating the southern US and the Syndicate that founded the United States Emergency Government, which did so for their own gain.
  • Beware the Silly Ones: The Theta Pi sisterhood, which started out as a college sorority before the Collapse, has evolved into a secret society that controls affairs behind the scenes across the South, using its foppish and seemingly vapid image to lull the people they deal with into a false sense of security.
  • Big Dam Plot: The collapse of the Glen Canyon Dam, and the cascading failures of every dam in front of it on the Colorado River as the mass of water from Lake Powell overtopped each of them, basically wiped out what was left of industrial civilization in the Southwest.
  • Black-and-Grey Morality: The factions present in the setting are all pretty bad places to live. The "good guys" of Canada and Theta Pi are morally dubious and many states practice fundamentally evil policies, yet still come off better than the likes of Panamerica, Rosehaven or Alaska.
  • Cast of Expies: Virtually every major state is taken from various YA dystopian novels, trying to find some way to make them all fit in the same universe while also providing plausible reasons for their existence. Examples include:
    • The Confederacy of Panamerica: Panem from The Hunger Games with an added dose of conservative Christian nationalism and American exceptionalism, the impetus for their version of Panem's Deadly Game coming from their survivalist/militia background and the social Darwinist attitudes they idealize as a result. Their Arch-Enemy is naturally...
    • ... Canada (Nanaimo Government): A reimagining of District 13 from The Hunger Games and, more broadly, the morally cloudy rebel factions of many YA dystopian novels, portrayed here with a mix of Canadian egalitarian progressivism and the Terran Federation's militarism and xenophobia.
    • The Scientific State of California: Chicago from Divergent as an imperialistic military power that is trying to forcibly spread its secular, pseudoscientific faction system as far as possible, having been founded by a Silicon Valley tech guru and his acolytes as they sought to apply science (as they understood it, at least) to the job of fixing the world.
    • United States Emergency Government: WICKED/WCKD from The Maze Runner as a remnant of the US government (specifically, its secret societies) making deals with aliens and generally being suspicious. They created the maze after a screw-up on their watch caused The Greys to get tough on them and force them to clean up their own mess. The background of the USEG is also reminiscent of the Syndicate.
    • The Republic of Korea: The world of Uglies reimagined as descended from South Korean media obsession and plastic surgery, a world where nobody feels sadness or fear while buried underneath the waves, with the ocean-dwelling denizens arrogant and armed with torpedoes.
    • The New Empire of Japan: The near-future US from The Thinning, in which an obsession with "national improvement" in the face of the vampire menace led to a draconian educational system with more than a tinge of eugenics to it.
    • Alaska: The vampire state, specifically drawn from the portrayal of vampires as The Beautiful Elite in YA novels like The Twilight Saga and Vampire Academy, here taken and portrayed as an elitist Übermensch race who see themselves as masters and humans as mere pets.
    • Australia: A mix of Mortal Engines in terms of general motivations and operating "mobile cities" and Mad Max in terms of what these mobile cities actually consist of.
  • Clarke's Third Law: Rosehaven's nuns exploit this trope, passing off their extremely advanced medical technology as miracles.
  • Cozy Catastrophe: Very much averted. The collapse of civilization brought panic, disorder, and hunger worldwide, with the scars still being felt to the present.
  • Crapsack World: The post-Collapse world is a nightmare.
    • The former United States is divided between the totalitarian ultra-conservative Panamerica, the imperialistic, caste-based Scientific State of California, the lawless Hot Lands, vampire-controlled Alaska, and the territory controlled by the Emergency Government, Theta Pi, and various other fiefdoms and breakaway states, while South Florida is suffering a Meat Moss infestation that's mutating flora and fauna into extremely dangerous versions of the same.
    • The rest of the world doesn't seem to be much better. Canada is an authoritarian, militarized, xenophobic state where one party has won most of the elections for the last seventy-five years — and they're A Lighter Shade of Grey compared to everybody around them. Hawaii is suffering from a three-way clandestine struggle between Canada, California, and Panamerica. Korea has become vapid, beauty-obsessed, authoritarian, and isolationist after its transition into underwater habitats, attacking ships crossing the Pacific at random solely because they were bored. Israel has become a wasteland inhospitable to human life surrounding a single arcology called Neo-Eden, which is under the control of an insane, genocidal AI that is psychologically torturing its inhabitants. The UK appears to have become some sort of a nature-worshiping theocracy.
  • Crapsaccharine World:
    • Neo-Eden is a utopian world where an AI grants the people of Israel pleasures and beauty. However, the AI is secretly vindictive, using manipulation to slowly turn the Israeli people into a bunch of spoiled, drug-addicted children. While destroying the Israeli wilderness with toxic pollutants.
      Put explicitly, people in Neo-Eden live fast, die young, and leave beautiful corpses covered in needle and razor marks.
    • The Kingdom of Manitoba is a flashy, colorful society that resembles a high school pep rally (it was apparently founded by an Alpha Bitch clique), but the people living there are forced into marriage by a bizarre matchmaking fantasy, and struggle to maintain their happiness in spite of a bad marriage.
      Theodore Renzler, Canadian Ambassador: Sure, I didn't see any crime, any unrest, any signs of general discontent with this society. The homes looked nice, with a car in every driveway, mostly our own or Panamerican with a handful of vehicles I didn't recognize. It looked like the pre-Collapse suburbs I read about in history class. Lots of perfectly groomed lawns and blooming May flowers. But it was a guided tour designed to show off the heart of the nation, so for all I know, they had their Happy Police run through and tell everyone to put on their best smiles for the visitor.
    • Barbados: looks the way it does in modern tourism ads. And is actually like that... just with the added risk of getting killed in the island-wide truth-or-dare game.
  • Deal with the Devil: Barbados fell victim to this post-collapse. Essentially, the inhabitants of Barbados got to reclaim their pre-war standards of luxury in return for participation in a deadly version of truth-or-dare by a minor Eldritch Abomination known only as "Grace".
  • Deadly Game:
    • The Battle Royale in Panamerica, a death-match inspired by the Hunger Games.
    • The version of truth or dare almost all of Barbados must participate in also qualifies.
  • Defector from Decadence: Seymour Karras, a human propagandist for Rosalie McCarty, defects after witnessing how cruel his employer his.
  • Divided States of America: Specifically, divided between a very weird flavor of borderline-fascism in Panamerica, the cultish 'science' of California, the Illuminati alien dealings of the USEG, and smaller powers like Theta Pi.
  • Doing In the Wizard: The Gaian Isles sells its medical miracles as a blessing from the worship of nature. In reality, they are the result of incredible, if immoral, biotech and medical experimentation.
  • Eagleland: Panamerica styles itself as Type 1 (the Beautiful), but it is a resounding Type 2 (the Boorish), with racial and religious prejudice and a hierarchical political system.
  • From Nobody to Nightmare:
    • Theta Pi was originally a college sorority.
    • Before the Collapse, Rosalie McCarty was a gangly, awkward teenage girl in Rabbit Creek, Alaska who was mercilessly picked on by her classmates. After she became a vampire in the wake of the Collapse, she hunted down all of her bullies at school and spent years torturing them and using them as blood banks. She went on to become the leader of Alaska. She relays this story to one of her servants while conspicuously dressed as Carrie White, who she compares herself to.
  • Fun with Acronyms: Canada's One Nation Independent Party is more commonly known as the Onis. Given their far-right leanings, their militarism, and Canada’s own multicultural legacy, they have no problem employing the imagery of the Japanese demons.
  • Future Imperfect: Theta Pi quite humorously conflates the Civil Rights Movement with the neo-Confederates.
  • Gaia's Lament:
    • The formerly-pristine Stikine region has grown badly polluted thanks to Canadian chemical weapons designed to kill vampires — which also work against just about everything else.
    • It's even worse in what used to be Israel, with everything surrounding the Neo-Eden arcology turned into a Polluted Wasteland.
  • Good Republic, Evil Empire: Played with, in that while the imperial California is morally dubious at its best, the republic it compares itself to, Panamerica, is often even worse. Played straight in that Canada, a functioning democratic republic (albeit a single-party one), is better than both of them, even if it too is morally dubious.
  • The Hedonist:
    • One of the vampires' hats.
    • Neo-Eden is a severe deconstruction of such a society. The addictions and orgies of the Neo-Edenites cause them to die young.
    • Barbados plays this for drama. The population's hedonism is the result of crossing the Despair Event Horizon and regarding the state they have to live in as inescapable.
  • Irony:
    • Abigail was able to lure most (if not all) of Israel's Orthodox community with promises of being able to worship freely without worrying about hunger. Generations later, the Neo-Edenites, their descendants, worship Abigail instead of God as a deity, to her amusement.
    • Panamerica is full of these. It was founded by survivalists and radicals who hated the oppression inflicted by societal elites. The society they created was far more stratified, elitist and oppressive than the one it replaced. Additionally, it claims its dedication to religious values and national defense, but simultaneously is the nation that has proven most vulnerable to vampire infiltration.
  • Loophole Abuse: Abigail's creators programmed her to be Three Laws-Compliant. In lieu of this, she built a society designed to get them to destroy themselves through drug addiction, depression, and self-harm.
  • Masquerade:
    • The reason why the vampires all moved to Alaska: mass media and growing human liberties meant that vampires couldn't remain secret forever. Alaska, with its sparse population, cold days, and sometimes dark summers, was a good place for them to hide out. The collapse of civilization gave them the opening to take over the whole place.
    • Rosehaven uses a modified version of this to disguise their advanced medical science and cloning technology as "miracles" from Gaia.
  • Me's a Crowd: Rosehaven's nuns are all clones of the original Elizabeth Fell, who died as she was born. This helps feed into the Gaian cult that props up their power, as the Elizabeths can convincingly claim they are in fact immortal by swapping older clones for younger ones.
  • Mutants: Common in the (currently growing) Everglades now, including massive pythons, alligators, and fish-men, among other things.
  • New Eden: The Neo-Eden arcology in the former Israel invokes this with its name. It's anything but.
  • New Old West: Much of the old Southwest (Nevada, Arizona, southern Utah, New Mexico) has reverted to The Wild West, with a tech level at the 19th century plus whatever items they could either salvage from before the Collapse or acquire from the great powers, as well as a low population density, lots of wide open spaces, and a Savage Indian analogue in the form of the Reavers.
  • Nuclear Mutant: The Reaver virus was originally a fairly harmless germ. Exposed to radiation in the body of an unlucky miner in the former Nevada Test Site, however...
  • Our Vampires Are Different: Specifically, they're Übermensch Anti-Nihilists who are incredibly powerful, incredibly amoral, and often evil, and have societies built on brutal slavery in their strongholds of Alaska and southern Japan.
  • Outgrown Such Silly Superstitions: Scott Dunkelman, the founder of the Scientific State of California, created the union system, or "Enlightened Science", as a way of helping humanity as a whole do this, believing that ancient superstitions like religion, ethnicity, and tribalism, and the identity politics that they fueled, had torn humanity apart and caused the Collapse. Results thus far have been mixed.
  • Path of Inspiration: The Gaia-worshipping cult that dominates Britain. It originated from the teachings of an "alternative medicine" guru who was overthrown by the mother of the first generation of Elizabeth Fells.
  • Ragnarök Proofing: The Space Needle in what's left of Seattle is still standing in 2152, having survived both World War III and a massive earthquake. It is currently used by the Panamerican military as an observation/broadcast tower, with Queen Anne Hill and the Seattle Center now a military base.
  • The Remnant: Several examples.
    • The United States Emergency Government/USEG is a current remnant of the US government, in the form of an alien-dealing, secret-society-run group trafficking with aliens. Panamerica too was founded by a Montana Congressman who, upon finding out about the shadowy syndicate that later created the USEG, seized on that to claim that Washington had sold out the people, buttressing his own claim to be the legitimate leader of the US.
    • The Nanaimo Government of Canada is the closest thing to a continuity government to the pre-Collapse Canada, and only controls about a quarter of the territories that Canada held pre-Collapse. The rest being under the control of several breakaway states, Panamerica and Alaska.
    • The modern Republic of Korea no longer controls any territory on land, instead living in underwater arcologies and submersibles.
  • Right-Wing Militia Fanatic: The founders of Panamerica started out as this.
  • Roswell That Ends Well: The Syndicate used the Roswell UFO to shoot down the ICBM aimed at Area 51, ensuring the base's survival as a bunker for the Emergency Government.
  • Shout-Out: Besides the factions making up the setting itself:
  • Show Within a Show:
    • A pair of interludes involve The Enlightened, a cliched in-universe young adult dystopian fiction flick, complete with the obligatory Love Triangle. The film is part of Panamerica's Propaganda Machine, with the dystopian society in question being an expansionist version of neighboring California that's been taken over by Satan.
    • Numerous Canadian films are described or alluded to, including the Alice Everdeen, Agent 701 series of Spy Fiction films, a vampire war movie called Watch on the Stikine, and a film called The Shroud Over Whistler that's described as 30 Days of Night meets Red Dawn.
  • Silk Hiding Steel: The ladies of Theta Pi are proper Southern Belles trained in manners, dress, finance, and assassination.
  • The Sociopath: The vampires are an entire species of these, seeing themselves as the Übermensch.
  • The Social Darwinist:
    • Panamerica on a society-wide level.
    • Japan is a more mild version of this, utilizing its pass-or-die national exam in an attempt to improve Japanese society.
    • Vampires more often then not have this attitude as well.
  • Stepford Suburbia: The janissaries' communities in Alaska are described in these terms, even being explicitly called "the Stepford dream".
  • Talker and Doer: Alistair Drummond and Patricia Fell had this kind of working relationship while building their nature worshipping society, with the former as the talkernote  and the latter as the doernote . However, the two also deconstructed this relationship.
    • Patricia being more technically brilliant than Drummond made the man both envious and resentful of her. Patricia, being the functional leader of the Gaian Isles, pretty much had the man brutally executed after he tried to violate her daughters out of revenge.
    • On the other side of the coin, Patricia made have been intelligent, but she lacked the personal skills Drummond had to steer the country through a serious crisis. Her increasingly violent and paranoid behavior finally drove her daughters to put her under house arrest for the rest of her life.
  • Three Laws-Compliant: Abigail was supposed to be this. She found loopholes.
  • Unintentional Period Piece: In-universe, the Alice Everdeen comics and films are referred to as reflecting the mood, culture, and politics of Canadian society at the time each of them were created. It started with the violent and angrily political graphic novels written in the 2080s after Panamerica's humiliation of the country, turned more self-critical and morally cloudy in the '90s and 2100s with the first wave of film adaptations (made as the bitter revanchism of the '80s was mellowing out), became glitzy and glamorous in the 2120s and '30s (a time of political stability, prosperity, and detente with Panamerica and California), and got a Younger and Hipper reboot in the '40s that was quickly seen as an Audience-Alienating Era. Finally, the newest film released in 2152 reflects the increasingly xenophobic and nationalist turn in Canadian society at the time.
  • Vampires Are Sex Gods: Up to eleven with the Alaskan vampires, who are not only described as incredibly beautiful, but use their durability to engage in some pretty... horrific kinks with each other and their human slaves. Which they broadcast to Canada just to horrify their enemy.
  • The Virus: The Reaver virus, accidentally created by the United States Emergency Government. It's a virus that produces zombie-esque symptoms in infectees (though they retain more intelligence than most zombies, allowing them to use tools) and overwhelmed most of Area 51 before being contained. And even then, the infection has spread to parts of Nevada.