Tuesday, 26 March 2013

The "Gone" Series and Modern History

From concentration camps in Gone to the nuclear option in Fear, the Gone series makes remarkable parallels to the key events of eighteenth- to twentieth-century history including but not limited to: pre-and-post-Revolutionary France, the Cold War and the World Wars. The early days of the Fallout Alley Youth Zone (FAYZ) show strong similarities to the French Revolution, coming to a close circle by the events of Fear. The nuclear option is an ever-present motif right from the beginning and will be used in reference to the Cuban Missiles Crisis.  To paraphrase Lang, “every story written now is the product of its time – everything that happened one hundred years ago is evident in a story written today.”

The Darkness can be taken as a substitute for a dictator such as Hitler or Stalin. The FAYZ can be seen as a form of concentration camp as it isolates children below the age of 15, comparable to Hitler’s treatment of various groups during the Second World War. When Sam is looked upon as a leader, it is a mirror of when the Allies were looked upon to bring the Axis Powers to justice. However, Calder claims that the British war effort of ‘equality of sacrifice’ was strong enough to unite and mobilise the nation in a British Levee en Masse. Sam is put upon to be the leader, the one to sort out everything, much like the Allies. By the end of Gone, it is evident that some characters will be prejudiced towards others and this will lead into situations comparable to some of the worst events in history.

With the exception of the Berlin Airlift, the events of Hunger can be used to demonstrate the modern implications of rationing and capitalism as experienced in the 20th Century on the modern generation or ‘the Golden Generation.’ Although Harold MacMillan claimed that the Fifties “never had it so good” it might be argued that the current, 21st-century world might be better than that of the 1950s. Although unemployment was at a record low in 1950 when compared to 2010, by the latter decade the populations of Britain and America experienced more civil liberties. The addition of currency by Albert Hillsborough also rules out the possibility of the FAYZ becoming a Communist regime – this may be due to the fact that the author is American, and some historians suggest that Americans are raised with an innate sense of caution toward the possibility of Communism, particularly those who grew up during the Cold War – which plays on “carrot and stick” psychology in Sam and Co.’s attempts to get kids to work.

By the end of Lies Astrid has taken on the role of social pariah, her only saving grace being her decision to finally create a code of conduct within the FAYZ; the preceding debate leading up to this is similar to that of the Norway Debate, which Paananen argues was an integral moment in the early days of the Second World War because it triggered Hitler’s invasion of Scandinavia.  In a similar vein, Sir William Beveridge delivered the Beveridge Report in 1942, although this was generally well-received and he was much admired for his recommendations in stark contrast to Astrid who did not experience such a reception. The historian Addison criticised Beveridge for his lack of economic pragmatism in excluding the elderly, of whom there were more and more in Britain with each succeeding year; this is a parallel one could draw with the Gone series due to the absence of adults. One could even go as far as to argue that Lies foreshadows the discovery of King Richard III’s skeleton insofar that Brittney’s power of regeneration kept the debate alive.

The events of Plague bear an obvious reminiscence to the Black Death experienced by Europe during from Middle Ages through to the eighteenth century, although the nature of waste disposal is starkly akin to the slum conditions of early C-20 Britain and America. It is also in Plague where we see the use of biological warfare by the Darkness; this is in the form of ‘greenies.’ It could be said that this is a physical realisation of the use of smallpox and anthrax by the Soviet government during the Cold War, but given that ‘greenies’ dismember their prey and behave in a similar manner to parasites, this is unlikely.

Finally, Fear is the ultimate in the democracy versus dictatorship debate which is reminiscent of pre-Revolutionary France. Caine Soren’s monarchical reign is similar to that of Louis XVI before the French Revolution of 1789, so it is not surprising when Penny exacts her revenge toward the end of the story with no one intervening to save him in a surprisingly similar manner to the Terror. Sam Temple, however, runs the closest possible regime to a democracy. One might even call it ‘Communism’ but for the fact that currency and democratic external trade (i.e. between Lake Tramonto and Perdido Beach) exists on this basis. The Levee en Masse is realised through the birth of the Gaiaphage as the kids unite to overthrow her, but fast forward 173 years into the future to 1962, and by the end of Fear the Cuban Missiles Crisis is evident as the FAYZ Wall is nuked to oblivion and the kids look out hopefully into the world they thought they would never know again.