Diverse World: Poverty & Class

Shoji here. Today I wanted to discuss a little bit about poverty and wealth as a topic in cyberpunk and science fiction, particularly dystopia. Class has long been a precursor for larger discussions on poverty and wealth as well as race. Natsuya Uesugi has done an awesome job of using class as a distinction in his grydscaen series and it runs central to the dichotomy between the citizens in the City with privilege and the non-citizens in the Echelons and the Zone starving with nothing and combating the ever present radiation exposure in grydscaen.

The microcosm of grydscaen Uesugi talks about is a far flung devastated world that could manifest if humanity is not careful. With the recent current events in the news and the craziness that abounds right now, grydscaen might be a reality far faster than we would want. But I digress. I wanted to talk about diversity and how that plays into literature and how people see the world.

Money and wealth has always been one of the determining factors about how someone will be able to succeed. Hard work can get you so far and luck but it is money that can bring you up from one status to another. Like rock stars and basketball players, you can throw money at it and rise people up from humble beginnings but you still cannot take the upbringing out of the person no matter how rich they are. With wealth being siphoned off from inner city schools by politicians to fund pet projects and lobbyists, those inner city kids are losing chances to have access to better education which can definitely change lives. Even with humble beginnings, education is the leveler of the playing field. Without access, those in the cities are not able to achieve some of the things in the suburbs.

Wealth is not the only determining factor. Even location can cause issues along with race. Even though this is an “unspoken” hit to a level playing field, people of colour are still not given the same advances and in some cases opportunities as others. And the stereotypes that are out there are harmful and fuel negativity. Not knowing something does not make it bad. The culture is different. We need to embrace our differences and learn and grow together for the common good.

Natsuya shows the stark reality of the rich and the poor in grydscaen a common subject in cyberpunk like grydscaen. Natsuya’s world is bleak but it shows hope in the stories of the characters like Rom the homeless youth. The diversity in Natsuya’s books is refreshing and the fact that there are LGBT characters represented and not just turned into a romance is nice to see. I applaud Natsuya for being true to the genre and also showcasing characters who are gay, trans and people of colour, as well as non binary and heterosexual, a true diverse cast.

With racism on the rise and hate groups spewing statements that only divide we are seeing rifts in society that are just growing. The poor are losing opportunities and the rich are growing richer and leaving others behind. The middle class is shrinking and young people are finding it harder to start their path and find careers. We need to support our youth, their education and assist them in finding their way. We can’t take those opportunities only for the wealthy. Diversity is necessary for a healthy world and with the changing tied we need to embrace the change.

  • Shoji