‘After the reaping, everyone is supposed to celebrate. And a lot of people do, out of relief that their children have been spared for another year. But at least two families will pull their shutters, lock their doors, and try to figure out how they will survive the painful weeks to come.’ – The Hunger Games

In the landscapes of young adult fiction, the world is often a dark, troubled place. Series such as ‘The Hunger Games, ‘Divergent’ and ‘The Maze Runner’ show us alternate visions of our societies where war, climate change and civil unrest has given way to scorched vistas, meta-humans and the ultimate expression of cruel, gladiatorial reality TV.

But are they always flights of fancy, or warped and enhanced reflections of the lives some young adults are already living? We don’t have to look far to see societies torn down by conflict or shattered by climate change, with people eking out lives amongst the devastation. 500 years after Thomas More’s ‘Utopia’ set the template for the idea of a perfect world, our panel will look at that idea’s antithesis as it lives in YA literature. Those volunteering as tribute include fantasy novelist David Barnett; Tajinder Singh Hayer, completing a PhD on post-apocalyptic themes; and Roger Christofides, author of ‘Shakespeare and the Apocalypse’.


About The Authors

David Barnett

David Barnett is an author and journalist based in West Yorkshire. His latest novel is Calling Major Tom, published by Trapeze. He writes mainly for the UK national press on books, culture and general topics, and is published regularly in the Guardian, Independent, and several magazines and online platforms.


Tajinder Singh Hayer

Tajinder Singh Hayer was born and raised in Bradford. He is a scriptwriter and has worked with Freedom Studios, Ragged Edge Production, the BBC (Radio 3 and 4) and the Asian Network. He currently lectures in Creative Writing at Lancaster University where his research clusters around writing for the stage, radio, film and television. He is interested in British Asian subject matter and the genres of sci-fi, fantasy and horror (with a particular interest in the post-apocalyptic subgenre). Much of his work is informed by living in Bradford, a city which still haunts his writing.

About The Academic

Roger Christofides

R.M. Christofides is a Shakespeare scholar with interests in Cyprus and the Middle East. He is the author of ‘Shakespeare and the Apocalypse’ and ‘Othello’s Secret: The Cyprus Problem’. He is currently writing a book on ethnic communities in London’s West End.