1. jannert

    jannert Member Supporter Contributor

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    Setting for dystopian future?

    Discussion in 'Setting Development' started by jannert, Oct 25, 2017.

    Just got thinking the other day about dystopian future fiction, and wondered if any writer had ever considered using modern landfill sites as 'mines' for their future civilisations. These civilisation will live in primitive circumstances by today's standards, and will want raw materials for tools, etc. It seems to me that these sites (especially if you dig down deep enough to bypass most things thrown away during our the recyling era) must contain a lot of very valuable stuff. Mostly metal, of course—especially the kind that doesn't rust. But plastics as well. The kind that doesn't degrade. And even glass? Or baby diapers. Okay, that sounds pretty awful, but many years will have degraded the organic components and just left the fibres, which might be very usable.

    Of course methane gas and possible collapse of the sites would make them dangerous, but modern mines contain dangerous gases and collapse as well, and it doesn't keep mining from happening.

    It occurred to me that these sites might become valuable and perhaps a fountain of 'wealth' for whoever controls them. I have no intention of ever writing a dystopian novel, but I just wondered if this idea had legs, or if somebody else has already written this kind of setting.
     
  2. replicant

    replicant New Member

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    Bringing out my inner 90's kid here, but the Nickelodeon show Aaahh!!! Real Monsters featured a community of monsters who lived under a landfill— based on the real life, Fresh Kills Landfill. It is now under redesign to become a park. There's something to be said there I think, once the world's biggest landfill now being turned into a green, eco-friendly space to rival Central Park in size (some kinda real life, reverse dystopia happening right there).

    I've read my share of dystopian stuff but can't say I've come across this setting. I found an article actually where this kind of scavenging is, to an extent, already happening. Would be an interesting setting to explore, though!
     
  3. GingerCoffee

    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    I think that's a great idea @jannert. And they should mine (collect?) the methane, a hazard to collect but valuable.

    You might find these non-fiction books interesting:
    Across the Wire: Life and Hard Times on the Mexican Border

    I didn't know it was a trilogy, this is the book I'm familiar with: By the Lake of Sleeping Children: The Secret Life of the Mexican Border
     
    Last edited: Oct 27, 2017
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  4. Partridge

    Partridge Active Member

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    I can see us being forced to that in 100 years or so. Maybe it would be met with the same kinda of resistance as fracking? We will run out of raw materials eventually, and there's only so many times something can be recycled before it becomes useless (can you tell I'm in a relationship with a product designer?).
     
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  5. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributor Contributor

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    I think that the movie Cherry 2000 had a recycling thing, though it was never terribly clear what the deal was.
     
  6. jannert

    jannert Member Supporter Contributor

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    I read a book a couple of years ago that was set in India, in very similar circumstances. A whole subculture was being underpinned by garbage pickers, mostly children, who worked at the edge of a city (I think it was Calcutta) where rich people and tourists threw things away that were valuable to the pickers.

    In fact, I think I kind of got my idea then. They are only pickers, who go out every day to glean what's just been thrown away. However, when you think of the 'dumps' and 'tips' that exist all over the so-called civilised world, where things have been buried for years ...that would take more than just a few hungry kids to glean a living from them. You'd have to be able to dig, in a fairly organised manner.

    I remember going with my dad to the 'dump' near our home town in Michigan, back in the very early 50's, and being astounded at the size of the mountains of trash that were there and the massive flocks of seagulls that were sustained by what got thrown away. Every so often, a bulldozer would flatten the mountains and a new pit would get dug.

    Everything went to 'the dump' back then, and we had to take it there ourselves. There wasn't any 'garbage' truck in operation in my home town at that time. It was common—but not universal—to burn the burnable trash, but everything else had to be taken to 'the dump' in the trunk of the car. There was no recycling or even plastic bin bags back then. We kept our trash in trash cans, and these cans fit into the trunk of the car, although the trunk lid had to be tied down, as it didn't fully close over the cans.

    I imagine there is a great deal of value still underground in these places ...especially metal.
     
    Last edited: Oct 27, 2017
  7. mashers

    mashers Contributor Contributor Community Volunteer

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    Not quite the same thing, but you might want to read Sand (the follow-on from the Wool trilogy). In it,

    the silos have been buried in hundreds of metres of sand, and the people who live on the surface ‘dive’ down into the sand to reach the silos and loot them.
     
  8. Iain Aschendale

    Iain Aschendale Evangelizing Athorist Contributor

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    Not exactly dystopian, but in Green Mars, by Kim Stanley Robinson, Art Randolph gets his start with a company called "Dumpmines," which excavates old landfills for things that are in short supply on an Earth with a population of, IIRC, ~10 billion people. There was another one, maybe David Brin, where they were mining a landfill in California and discovered some very odd corpses, but I can't place the name of the story right now.
     
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  9. jannert

    jannert Member Supporter Contributor

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    Excellent. I'll give some of those books a read. As I said when I started the thread, I have no interest in writing that kind of story, but I do love reading them. And I think we might well be sitting on a 'mine' of very useful stuff that has been plowed under as 'garbage' in its day. Glad to see it's not a totally unfeasible idea, at least in the minds of sci-fi writers.
     
  10. Sir Douglas

    Sir Douglas Member

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    Or future archaeological sites?
     
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  11. The Dapper Hooligan

    The Dapper Hooligan Member Supporter Contributor

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    In Star Wars: Clone Wars, there was a planet like this where Darth Maul hid after his duel with Obi Wan.
     
  12. newjerseyrunner

    newjerseyrunner Contributor Contributor

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    There are a powerful group of people living in a junkyard in The Walking Dead.
     
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