Many years in the future, the whole world will be covered in sand. Entire cities will be buried beneath the dunes, leaving society to scrape out a lawless existence atop the shifting ground. This is the premise of "Sand," a dystopic sci-fi novel by emerging author Hugh Howey.
Howey is also known for his popular post-apocalyptic series "Wool," which he independently published through Amazon.com's Kindle Direct Publishing system to huge success.
He is a guest author at the Savannah Book Festival this year, and will speak about his novels at 1:30 p.m. Saturday at the Lutheran Church Fellowship in Wright Square.
Both "Wool" and "Sand" are dystopian novels. In "Wool," society has been forced to live in subterranean cities and views the outside world through censored screens controlled by a totalitarian regime.
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"Sand" is the opposite. "Sand" is the Wild West of the future, where society runs amok from a lack of rules and structure.
"I think these are the two extremes at which we find human suffering," Howey said.
In dystopian worlds, everything is unpleasant: the food, the environment and especially the government.
"You can probably chart dissatisfaction with government with the rise of dystopian literature," Howey said. "I think these books have always been popular, but we went through a very rough economic stage and our satisfaction with government is at an all-time low."
His novels join a long line of dystopian works currently saturating the entertainment market.
Suzanne Collins' "The Hunger Games" is the most notable, but others, like Justin Cronin's post-apocalyptic vampire novel "The Passage" and Stephanie Meyer's alien invasion novel "The Host," have garnered acclaim in the sci-fi genre.
Veronica Roth's breakout novel "Divergent," in which society is divided into personality types, is set to hit the big screen this year, as is a film adaptation of "The Giver," by Lois Lowry.
According to the book sharing site Goodreads, the rise in dystopian novels is usually an indicator of troubled times. Fear of communism and fascism in the 1930s though '60s generated Bradbury's "Fahrenheit 451" and Orwell's "1984." Today's dystopian hits are geared toward young adult readers, with possible inspirations from Sept. 11, 2001, the War on Terror and the vapidity of pop culture.
"Also, when something gets popular now, the effect is so magnified. If zombies do well, everyone bets on zombies until it's tapped out," Howey said. " 'The Hunger Games' comes out and does really well and (people) do as much dystopia as possible. Everyone is looking for that next home run and it magnifies what the current trend is in entertainment."
In other words, if you're sick of zombies, vampires and girls with long braids shooting arrows, well, too bad.
Follow Erin Shaw at twitter.com/IPBG_ErinShaw.