Bioshock, Bioshock 2, Bioshock: Infinite and Bioshock: Rapture
It would be folly not to mention the underwater dystopia in the Bioshock video games and novel. Set at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean, Rapture is a place designed for the best minds in the world to create a city uncontaminated by the rest of the world. When the Hiroshima and Nagasaki nuclear bombings ended the Second World War, Andrew Ryan (the architect) believed that humanity would fall soon enough. Rapture became a shelter from nuclear fire. What's so interesting about Rapture is how it was built. It's powered by volcanic geothermal energy and there's even a forest grown inside to provide oxygen to it's population. Transport is handled by bathyspheres and reinforced tunnels that connect parts of the city to the next. Rapture is a dystopia after all, so how goes the downfall? A genetic arms race, that's what. Scientists under Andrew Ryan designed plasmids using a new source from sea slugs known as ADAM and with that, people could unleash swarms of bees, ignite people on fire, summon a winter storm and conduct an electric charge all from the power of their fingertips. A civil war broke out and most of the population became drugged up, intoxicated lunatics trying to survive under the sea. There's loads more to it than that, but if you read 'Bioshock: Rapture', you'll get everything. Rapture is still worth visiting in the video games even now.
2) USG Ishimura
Dead Space, Dead Space 2 and Dead Space: Downfall
More video games locations here, but the doomed gigantic deep-space mining ship in 'Dead Space' is one of the scariest places I've been too. After an alien infestation wipes out almost all of the crew, Isaac Clarke (the hero of the series) must dive into the horrors of the reanimated crew and fix the ship on his own. The aliens, the Necromorphs are the walking terror aboard the ship, aliens who used to be humans. Once infected, their bodies become twisted, broken and disembodied as they hunt down anyone left alive, and when you've got just one sprinting down the hallway, its blade-like arms thrashing and its jaw snapping, it's pretty hard not to get a bit freaked out. As you go about the Ishimura, you see all the clutter from the lived-in ship and plenty of audio logs lay forgotten on the floor for you to listen to. You get a sense of what life was like before and during the catastrophe and how many of of the crew suffered from insanity before the infection spread. It's even worse when you revisit the vessel in the second game where it's going through an intense and thorough clean-up and each part you see is faithfully redecorated from your original visit along with extra detail such as red tape and UV lighting so you can see all the blood. Religion lives on the vessel and that has a big part of the world itself. Unitologists, in a nut shell, believe that Necromorphs are the next stage in human evolution. They're a little nuts.
3) The World State
Brave New World
I've said it before, but 'Brave New World' is insane. No book for me matches this, not one. Welcome to the World State, a place where the globe is in eternal peace and has controlled population so no more than two billion people live. So, this means that goods are plentiful and everybody is happy. At birth, people are sent in categories to bring balance to the population. Natural birth doesn't exist and instead, people are created and placed in their social castes as Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta and Epsilon. You could look at this as a utopia, but I'm not so sure. People are conditioned to never enjoy solitude and one must always enjoy social activities to consume, consume and consume everything. Pleasure is everything in the World State. Bernard Marx, on the other hand, is miserable, he isn't like the rest of society and he yearns for the old ways. When he visits a Savage Reservation, he soaks up the old life despite being with a friend who finds the whole experience horrifying and desperately wants to take Soma, a hallucinogenic drug so she can go on 'holiday'. It's a story about how the things we love may be what kills us, and many always make comparisons to 'Nineteen-Eighty Four'. The two are often known as one of three giants of dystopian fiction, the third being 'Fahrenheit 451'. All of which are excellent.
Another game this, but I fear that this gem went under the gaming radar back in 2012. You could say it's steampunk, but I don't know steampunk well enough to say so. Anyway, what I can tell you is that the whaling town of Dunwall is loosely based off Victorian London. The main story is kind of bland, but the story of the city isn't. Dunwall is powered by whale oil, you know, whaling. I think whaling doesn't exist in most parts of the world now but it was a slaughter. In Dunwall, everything is powered by whales and the city is stricken by a Rat Plague caught from the unknown part of the world, Pandyssia. The city is collapsing, the City Watch have gutted rotten parts of the town and are trying to cleanse the plague but all is failing. Ultimately, it's up to you whether or not the city survives or dies from the plague. Assassins run the flooded districts, corrupt members of parliament call the shots and nobles try their best to have 'Great Gatesby' style parties to forget about the plague but nothing works. The game uses soft textures and deep colours to create its own art style and IGN used the best metaphor I can think of to describe it.
It's like an oil painting in motion- IGN
Songs of the Week:
- 'I Don't Want To Be Here Anymore' by Rise Against
- 'Intro' by The XX
- 'Stranger in a Strange Land' by Iron Maiden
- 'Lose You' by Pete Yorn
- 'Oh, My Sweet Carolina' by Ryan Adams
- 'Cusp of Eternity' by Opeth