How do the writers of Riddley Walker and A Clockwork Orange present the future in their novels?

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How do the writers of Riddley Walker  and A Clockwork Orange present the future in their novels?

Both Riddley Walker and A Clockwork Orange present a future where humanity is on the brink of destruction. Violence and death are common occurrences in both novels and the governments, rather than try to help their citizens, merely control them while covertly trying to gain more and more power.

In Riddley Walker humanity has gone through a cultural devolution. It has regressed from a time when they had “boats in the ayr” to a second Iron Age. Man has returned to its hunter-gatherer roots. However this does not simply mean that they hunt live animals. Iron is a highly sought after resource and so finding and salvaging old pieces of iron is a common event in Riddley Walker’s future.  This all happened due to the “1 Big 1”; a nuclear world war which was initiated by Mr. Clevver, the Big Man of Inland.

The Nuclear Holocaust written about by Russell Hoban stems from the period in which it was written. Riddley was written in 1982 and if we presume the past mentioned in The Eusa Story to be from roughly that year then we are, in the words of Riddley, living in a time where we “had evere thing clever”.

If that is the case then we can see The Eusa Story as partly an allegory of the cold war, part  speculative vision of its outcome.  Looking back, the notion of a nuclear war actually occurring may seem a somewhat farfetched concept, however to people at the early 80s there was a real fear of nuclear annihilation.

As a result of the nuclear war the so-called “Bad Tyms” occurs. A time where civilisation collapsed, nothing would grow and humanity was practically wiped out. As a result man had to adapt, which is why we see humanity having regressed: it would not have survived trying to sustain a modern civilisation at the end of a nuclear war. Parts 19 and 20 of The Eusa Story paint a vivid picture of what life was like.

 “Evere thing wuz blak & rottin ...Peapl din no if they wud be alyv 1 min tu the nex ... Cudn be shur uv nuthing din no wut was sayf tu eat or drink ... it was nuthing only Luck if enne 1 stayd alyv.”

The inclusion of the Eusa Story in Riddley serves not only as a way of setting the back story, but also showing the strange situation humanity finds itself in in this future. It is these vague recollections of an advanced past which give us a real feel of what the future is like in Riddley: A vague notion that life must have been better at some point coupled with a pre-historic mentality towards life and a devolved language.

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In A Clockwork Orange, however, humanity has gone through a natural progression, with ideals of community cohesion replaced almost entirely by the concept of individualism. As a result of this dog-eat-dog mentality the future in Clockwork has reached the point where this culture practically breeds lawlessness.

Indeed, in Clockwork lawlessness is rife, with violent gangs of youths roaming the street at night attacking innocent people, which has resulted in a police force who seem only marginally less dangerous than the criminals they are out to capture. The jails are full to bursting and the newly elected government won the ...

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