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Literature / The Lord of Opium

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Released on September 3, 2013, The Lord of Opium is the sequel to Nancy Farmer's The House of the Scorpion and follows fourteen-year-old Matt's role as the new ruler of Opium. As clone of the deceased despot El Patron, Matt finds himself inheriting El Patron's empire, including its vast eejit army, but nonetheless finds himself powerless to put an end to the suffering he had witnessed. With external and internal enemies impeding his progress, Matt is unable to even smuggle Maria, his childhood love, back into Opium. Faced with opposition from rival drug cartels and his own doubt, Matt must confront these challenges and seek the means to revitalize the dying world around his nation.

Lord of Opium provides examples of:

  • Body Horror:
    • Glass Eye Dabengwa has clones to replace parts like all other drug lords, but has yellow Electronic Eyes, grayish skin and numerous mechanical internal parts. Not to mention the teeth of twenty-year-olds he has replaced every few years.
    • The DNA-activated scanners responsible for opening and closing the borders. If someone other than El Patron (or his clone) touches one, the proteins holding their cells together dissolve and they melt. El Bicho is used by Dr. Rivas to allow Glass Eye in, but only loses his hand.
  • Cruel to Be Kind: Matt destroys the Scorpion Star and the 300 people on it in order to free the eejits.
  • Expansion Pack World: The original book mentioned that there were other drug dealers that started Opium, it never hinted or mentioned the Dope Confederacy, other nations that serve up drugs to everyone but the US and Aztlán. A major change to the universe is how most of El Patron's workers were eejits, albeit high-functioning ones, which seems to contradict with remarks and statements made in the original book, that suggested only the farm laborers and a few others were the eeijts.
  • The Future: The events of this story are set in the 22nd century.
  • Future Society, Present Values: One of the nations for the Dope Confederacy exports marijuana. Seeing that the book came out in 2013, this is a strange assumption on the author's part that one of the nations would be selling marijuana, as many nations are now relaxing marijuana laws, and even outright legalizing the plant. Could be justified that it sells to a few holdout nations, or progress was reversed.
  • Gaia's Lament: By the events in The Lord of Opium, the entire world had suffered extensive ecological devastation.
  • I Cannot Self-Terminate: Some high-functioning eejits like Cienfuegos cannot commit suicide, due to their programming. They can be ordered to kill themselves however.
  • Istanbul (Not Constantinople): Mexico is now called Aztlán.
  • Last Fertile Region: Opium is apparently the only country left with an intact natural ecosystem.
  • Meaningful Rename: Cienfuegos insists Matt come up with an intimidating title befitting a drug lord. Eventually, depressed over Mirasol's death, Matt decides on Don Sombra, Lord Shadow.
  • Misplaced Wildlife: Feral zoo escapees such as lions have established themselves in Arizona.
  • Our Wormholes Are Different: Holoports are apparently wormhole generators, rather than simply displaying the other area to the viewers via a camera. While it is possible to cross the wormhole, whatever is in-between them is said to be freezing cold, and using a holoport to transmit objects is not recommended, and it will kill living beings unless they protect themselves, however, since time is said to be measured differently in a wormhole, it is unknown how long it takes for the person inside to travel.
  • Posthumous Character: El Patron. However, his influence on Matt exists as a small voice in the back of his head.
  • Punch-Clock Villain: Many, if not all of the high-functioning eejits seem unable to show physical affection and cannot harm their master, no matter how cruel he is. Glass Eye's Russian guards Samson and Boris in particular do their job keeping Matt and Listen in a holding room, but show kindness towards the little girl and indicate they wish they could kill Glass Eye.
  • Screw the Rules, I Make Them!: Matt thinks this from time to time, and uses it to legally propose to Maria, despite them both being 15.
  • Space Station: The Scorpion Star. Also used to control the eeijts in the Dope Confederacy.
  • United Nations Is a Superpower: Implied. The UN by the time of the book has the authority to launch airstrikes on sovereign nations, and its peacekeepers seem to be more outfitted for full-out combat than they are today.
  • Urban Segregation: New York City is said to have this, with what remains of the American wealthy living in the top levels, and the poor living on the bottom and on the streets.
  • Villainous Breakdown: Glass Eye Dabengwa, when Matt does not do as he wants.
  • Year Inside, Hour Outside: Possibly with anyone that goes through a holoport. Implied, but never confirmed, since Maria's memories got scrambled when she did it.
  • Young and in Charge: At the age of fourteen, Matt rules over an entire nation, but lacking any experience, finds it difficult to exercise his will.
  • You're Insane!: Matt thinks this about Dr. Rivas, but doesn't say it out loud.