At first, when California started winning its water lawsuits and shutting off cities, the displaced people just followed the water-right to California. It took a little while before the bureaucrats realized what was going on, but finally someone with a sharp pencil did the math and realized that taking in people along with their water didn't solve a water shortage.
Don't tell me about worth," Nita said. "My father commands fleets." "The wealthy measure everything with the weight of their money." Tool leaned close. "Sadna once risked herself and the rest of her crew to help me escape from an oil fire... Your father commands fleets. And thousands of half-men, I am sure. But would he risk himself to save a single one?
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Mahlia... understood Doctor Mahfouz and his blind rush into the village. He wasn't trying to change them. He wasn't trying to save anyone. He was just trying to not be part of the sickness. Mahlia had thought he was stupid for walking straight into death, but now, as she lay against the pillar, she saw it differently. She thought she'd been surviving. She thought that she'd been fighting for herself. But all she'd done was create more killing, and in the end it had all led to this moment, where they bargained with a demon ... not for their lives, but for their souls' (p. 403)
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The more I write stories for young people, and the more young readers I meet, the more I'm struck by how much kids long to see themselves in stories. To see their identities and perspectives-their avatars-on the page. Not as issues to be addressed or as icons for social commentary, but simply as people who get to do cool things in amazing worlds. Yes, all the 'issue' books are great and have a place in literature, but it's a different and wildly joyous gift to find yourself on the pages of an entertainment, experiencing the thrills and chills of a world more adventurous than our own. And when you see that as a writer, you quickly realize that you don't want to be the jerk who says to a young reader, 'Sorry, kid. You don't get to exist in story; you're too different.' You don't want to be part of our present dystopia that tells kids that if they just stopped being who they are they could have a story written about them, too. That's the role of the bad guy in the dystopian stories, right? Given a choice, I'd rather be the storyteller who says every kid can have a chance to star.
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Family. It was just a word... Could see its letters all strung together. But it was a symbol, too. And people thought they knew what it meant... It was a thing everyone had an opinion about-that it was all you had when you didn't have anything else, that family was there, that blood was thicker than water, whatever. But when Nailer thought about it, most of these words and ideas just seemed like good excuses for people to behave badly and get away with it. Family wasn't more reliable than marriages or friendships... maybe less... The blood bond was nothing. It was the people that mattered. If they covered your back, and you covered theirs, then maybe that was worth calling family.
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The Drowned Cities hadn't always been broken. People broke it. First they called people traitors and said they didn't belong. Said these people were good and those people were evil, and it kept going, because people always responded, and pretty soon the place was a roaring hell because no one took responsibility for what they did, and how it would drive others to respond.
It's still a load. If there was balance, the soldier boys would all be dead, and we'd be sitting pretty in the middle of the Drowned Cities, shipping marble and steel and copper and getting paid Red Chinese for every kilo. We'd be rich and they'd be dead, if there was such a thing as the Scavenge God, or his scales. And that goes double for the Deepwater priests. They're all full of it. Nothing balances out.
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Pain held no terror for him. Pain was, if not friend, then family, something he had grown up with in his cre¨che, learning to respect but never yield to. Pain was simply a message, telling him which limbs he could still use to slaughter his enemies, how far he could still run, and what his chances were in the next battle.
Mahlia... understood Doctor Mahfouz and his blind rush into the village. He wasn't trying to change them. He wasn't trying to save anyone. He was just trying to not be part of the sickness. Mahlia had thought he was stupid for walking straight into death, but now, as she lay against the pillar, she saw it differently. She thought she'd been surviving. She thought that she'd been fighting for herself. But all she'd done was create more killing, and in the end it had all led to this moment, where they bargained with a demon ... not for their lives, but for their souls
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All life produces waste. The act of living produces costs, hazards and disposal questions, and so the (Environment) Ministry has found itself in the center of all life, mitigating, guiding and policing the detritus of the average person along with investigating the infractions of the greedy and short-sighted, the ones who wish to make quick profits and trade on others' lives for it.
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Nothing so mystical. Human beings hunger for killing, that is all. It only takes a few politicians to stoke division, or a few demagogues encouraging hatred to set your kind upon one another. And then before you know it, you have a whole nation biting on its own tail, going round and round until there is nothing left but the snapping of teeth.
She'd survived the Drowned Cities because she wasn't anything like Mouse. When the bullets started flying and warlords started making examples of peacekeeper collaborators, Mahlia had kept her head down, instead of standing up like Mouse. She'd looked out for herself, first. And because of that, she'd survived.
When we talk about dystopias, especially in young adult fiction, a lot of them are essentially science fictional futures. They aren't necessarily tied to the traditional concept of dystopia. And so in that space, my impression is that kids love reading about weird, wild, adventurous places, and dystopia fits that bill.
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I don't put a very clear label on my work. If anything, I write science fiction - looking at a moment now, in the present, and then extrapolating outward to think about what the future might look like if this particular trend goes on, or if this particular trend is the most dominant. That's a science fictional tool.