by Scott Westerfeld
Uglies Theme of Technology and Modernization
In Uglies, technology can tell us a lot about what a society values. For instance, the Smokies live a primitive existence (they can't even make their own dehydrated food), but they put the energy into having a library because they value knowledge and history, instead of, say, drunken parties where people jump off buildings for fun. Bo-ring. Meanwhile, the city has a surgery that can turn people into superhuman Specials—but it only gives that to a few people. (Everyone else gets drunk and jumps off buildings for fun.) That use of technology tells us something about how this city runs: with a couple of Special people on top and everyone else under them.
Questions About Technology and Modernization
- Does technology help people to find/create their identities in Tally's world? Does technology increase freedom or decrease it?
- What are the major technological differences between the different societies we hear about here (Tally's city, the Smoke, the Rusties)? Can we take one technology—like hoverboards—and see what that says about the society? (Why don't we have hoverboards?)
- Is technology presented as a good thing or a bad thing in this book? For instance, the helicopter—good or bad? Or does it depend on how that technology is used? How do you feel about people tricking or changing their technology, as when Shay fixes the hoverboard so it won't report on them?
- Which technology would you want to see in our current world, and how would that technology affect the way we live?
Chew on This
New technology in Uglies doesn't really change the important stuff: friendship, love, society, food.
In Uglies, new technology always fails and the best technology is the old stuff that's already been tested.