Human life has intrinsic value. “Thou shall not kill” transcends Judio-Christian principles and has its roots in every culture. The foundation of civilization, though, didn’t survive the apocalypse that led to Suzanne Collins’ Panem. In her bestselling series The Hunger Games, Panem law requires one boy and one girl from each of its twelve districts to compete in a televised battle to the death. All eyes watch as child kills child in this brilliant dystopia where the annual survivor rises to the ranks of hero.
While the term taboo is something we associate with aboriginal tribes, every society has its code of conduct. Pedofilia, incest, cannibalism, polygamy, and prostitution top the list in most Western cultures. Drug-enhanced athleticism is a modern addition.
Can you think of any criminal or frowned upon activity that, if reversed, might make an interesting story world?
- What if one’s skills as a thief determine his or her economic standing?
- What if kidnapping is a viable means of climbing the corporate ladder?
- What if voyeurism becomes the new reality entertainment?
- What if pandemic child abandonment results in feral packs of street children?
Any level of expected behavior can be turned on its flip-side. Ray Bradbury flipped convention in Fahrenheit 451, making books an illegal possession. Perhaps in your story world, it’s illegal to have children.