In the science fiction film "Divergent," opening this week, civilization has once again crumbled, leaving a small outpost of survivors to reckon with an uncertain future. "Divergent" continues a welcome recent trend of films, adapted from young-adult books, that take science fiction seriously. Think "The Hunger Games," "Ender's Game" and the excellent British indie "How I Live Now."
"Divergent" deals with some future technology, but is more in the tradition of social science fiction, which trades in speculation regarding anthropology and sociology. The film is also an allegory of sorts for adolescence itself, with our heroine Tris (Shailene Woodley) trying to individuate within a society that, quite literally, tells her who to be. We take a look at some of the science -- both hard and soft -- behind the science fiction. (Warning: Plot spoilers ahead.)