The Hunger Games… yeah, that doesn’t make much sense. But… Jennifer Lawrence!
Possibly the worst attempt at world-building (from a guy who was excellent at it in Hyperion) is the fictional future US developed by Dan Simmons for his novel Flashback. Pure and utter unbelievable tripe, Simmons postulates a future America wherein
[spoiler]In 25 years, because of the Obama administration passing huge entitlement programs that the government couldn’t afford (the possibility of cancelling these things never crossed anybody’s mind in this world, btw) the economy has completely collapsed, with the US in what the characters mockingly refer to as its 23rd year of jobless recovery. There’s about a 50% unemployment rate which has gone on for decades, people are living in cubicles built within abandoned shopping malls, etc. The entire US economy exists to pay the interest on the debt caused by the entitlement programs we were too stupid to cancel.
But the US doesn’t exist anymore, I don’t think… it’s a bit confusing. Hawaii broke off. Alaska seceded. Mexico suffered a civil war, causing 22 million Mexicans to head north into the US, overwhelming the federal government (this migration called the reconquista). Texas broke off from the US and somehow, without the assistance of the US army, resisted the migrations (and safely removed it from Simmons’ story, freeing him the pesky need to write about Texas). The Japanese have bought all the US debt and are now in sovereign control of the US, dividing the remainder of the country into 7 economic zones. However, the characters keep referring to the “United States” as it is some viable entity, so like I said, I’m a bit confused on this matter. Hopefully clarity is forthcoming).
The only thing the US is good for anymore is providing soldiers and military gear to the Japanese and Caliphate armies. Nevermind the fact that military might is a function of economic might, America just rents out its army and navy to the Japanese. Because making war is all we’re good at or something.
The top global power is the Islamic Caliphate (China burst apart in a spectacular economic bubble collapse and are no longer a superpower), who vies with India and Japan for global dominance. The United States is now a predominately Moslem country, with 9-11 being remembered as a national holiday as the first strike against the American Hegemony (this holiday being enacted no later than 2030 (19 years from now)). The worlds largest mosque now resides at Ground Zero.
But you see everybody is cool with this because 87% of the population is addicted to Flashback, where they spend most of their days reliving our favorite memories in a full tactile hallucinagenic (sp, but I’m too lazy to look it up) trip - so if I wanted to relive my first sexual experience (or my first good sexual experience), I would take flashback and relive the act.
So I’m reading this and I’m thinking WTF? 30 years? In 16 years, I’m to believe that the now-predominately Christian US will be Islamicized (is that a word) enough so that we will accept a 9-11 holiday celebrating the terrorists POV? I’m to think that 87% of the country gets addicted to Flashback? (It is stated that the drug itself isn’t addicting, it’s the reliving the best moments of our lives that is so addicting. I have a good life but I can not believe that it’s been so good that I want to spend the rest of my life reliving it). Japan is going to invade China using an “endless stream” of US troops? Really? In 30 years?
Just because we owe them money?
And that’s the problem with this world (if I understand it right, which I may not: this entire spoiler-pity-party may be completely off base) – it’s predicated on the assumption that the US government and people would never default on its debt, that whoever owns it (the Japanese, in this book) would be able to literally claim swaths of the country as economic and human collateral, where the people of the United States exist largely to service the debt, even to the point where we institute mandatory military service so we can serve as the shock troops in Japanese and Indian wars.
Also, he posits that in 16 years, all of the current population will be Islamicized enough to accept a 9-11 holiday in support of the terrorists viewpoint.
And that we’re fine with this and were fine with it up to the point where the novel begins (no mention of a US civil war, except for the secession of TX, AK, HI, and the reconquista) because everybody is addicted to Flashback. He makes it a point to mention that all Americans are flashing back to happier days (pre 9/11 or pre-collapse), but none of the characters (so far) have bothered to do so, all reliving days since the collapse.
All this in the next 16 years. And I won’t even go into the books’ Six Flags Under the Jews - you’ll just think I’m making shit up.
Yeah… it’s that bad.