"The best-kept secret about history is that the past is the ultimate secondary world."
That quote is from a recent Spellbinders article by J. Anderson Coats, author of The Wicked and the Just.
The following is an excerpt along with a Dystopian/ History Quiz.
You can't get more dystopian than the rubber plantations in the Belgian Congo where they'd cut off people's hands and kidnap their families to ensure that quotas were met, or the transportation of petty criminals to a prison colony on the other side of the planet. These things are real, and they give fiction a run for its money every time.
Here's a little quiz: which of the following are plot summaries of recent YA novels, and which are actual historical events?
* The daughter of a gladiator must marry the fighter who kills her father and captures her dowry bracelet.
* When her wealthy husband dies, a teenage widow must climb on his funeral pyre with him and be burned alive, or else face recrimination, ostracism and destitution.
* During a seemingly unstoppable plague, a city closes its gates and forbids anyone to enter or leave, and any houses in which plague suffers already live are boarded up with the healthy and sick alike trapped inside.
* Girls who reach legal maturity are given a special tattoo that indicates their sexual availability to the entire society.
1 - Dystopian (Girl in the Arena by Lise Haines)
2 - Historical (pre-British India; the practice of sati)
3 - Historical (14th century Milan)
4 - Dystopian (XVI by Julia Carr)
To read the rest of the article and to find out more about J. Anderson Coats, visit Spellbinders.