I haven’t seen nor read The Hunger Games–haven’t seen it because I haven’t read it, and it’s going to be tough to get it from the library until the movie furor dies down, so I don’t expect to do either for awhile. However, I gather it’s about a government that compels young people to fight each other to the death, even if they have no personal animus and might even respect and care for each other.

This does not sound like fiction to me. It sounds like real life. It sounds like war.

Well, that’s why I read scifi: to hold up a mirror to our world and maybe notice something there that hadn’t seemed as clear before. As Ursula LeGuin wrote (in her excellent introduction to the 1976 edition of her even more excellent novel, The Left Hand of Darkness), “Science fiction is not predictive; it is descriptive.” If the Hunger Games trilogy suggests to the teenagers for whom it’s written that their government also threatens to conscript them into a fight they don’t want engage in and can’t win, no wonder it is so popular. I hope it gives them, and the rest of us, some ideas about how to change the situation.

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