Dystopic landscapes all around us

Abandoned places litter many a dystopic landscape.  An old amusement park in Uglies. The ships in Ship Breaker. A casino, McD’s, and a Starbucks in Eleventh Plague.  The future isn’t necessarily going to be all shiny and new.  And you only need to look around our world to see what a dystopic / apocalyptic future might look like.  I’m not talking about ancient ruins of pyramids or Greek temples but rather modern ruins, places abandoned, decaying, and eerily vacant in the midst of civilization.

Take Detroit (or Cleveland).  Detroit has lost 25% of its population since the 2000 census, leaving parts of the city abandoned.

Packard plant interior
Police station

These photos are from Yves Marchand & Romain Meffre's RUINS OF DETROIT, which is both a book and an exhibit.  Check out the rest of the images. There are so many.

Other collections of modern ruins:
  • The Accidental Sea. A short video tour of the abandoned towns around California's Salton Sea. (btw, the film is by Ransom Riggs, author of Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children.)
  • 9 Ghost Towns of the Recession.  Victims of the burst housing bubble.
  • Ghosts of Shopping Past. Abandoned shopping malls and big box stores. Oh my.
  • I09's Modern Ruins column.  Great pix and videos of abandoned amusement parks, ghost towns, off ramps to nowhere, etc.
  • Abandon in Place:  A photo exhibit of abandoned space program structures. (btw, Abandon in Place is a real NASA term. It's stenciled on structures that are no longer maintained. We also used to joke that certain civil servants had that stamped on their behinds.)
I could go on (particularly about space stuff) but I'm beginning to depress myself. ;)

My point is that our world has plenty of modern ruins so don't forget them when you write about the future.  And, those modern ruins could also inspire your own dystopic landscapes.

What "inspiring" modern landscapes have you seen or heard about?


Lenore Appelhans said...

The towns around Salton Sea are almost entirely disintegrated. We went there last year and you almost couldn't tell they used to be there.

I was in Armenia a few years ago and there were abandoned ruins everywhere. In some areas, 90% of the population left. You could definitely film a post-apoc movie there.

B.E. Sanderson said...

Detroit's been slowly disintegrating for years. I haven't been there in a decade, but I can imagine how much worse it's gotten in that time. Yeah, it's depressing.

Catherine Stine said...

I saw that Packard plant and it REALLY inspired me. I love, love, love old creepy warehouses.

Carol Riggs said...

VERY interesting! Thanks for the ideas and linkies; this is thought-provoking. :)

Unknown said...

I've thought about how historical events could make good dystopias. I was reading a novel about the Acadians being forced out of Canada during the 18th century and getting dystopian vibes from it. Definitely odd, but it's interesting to think that the same aspects of society that would make it dystopian have occurred in real life.

JennaQuentin said...

I've been picturing my city of Bordeaux with abandoned trams...great idea to search out dystopian scenes! I'll have a look around town...

Josin L. McQuein said...

The pictures of what's left after Six Flags New Orleans was abandoned for Katrina are both stunning and just enough other-worldy creepy to deserve a role in a dystopia.

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