I have to admit, though — I wasn’t totally surprised by what some might see as a child-terrorizing image.
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I read a lot. And ever since the 2008 release of “The Hunger Games,” the first book in the best-selling sci-fi trilogy by Suzanne Collins, the rumors have been floating around: Denver is quite possibly home base for — cue Beethoven’s Fifth — the forces of evil.
Seem impossible? Consider this: The novel, set in a post-apocalyptic, starvation-plagued North America, describes the decadent futuristic capital of the totalitarian dictatorship of Panem as “built in a place once called the Rockies.” Suspicious, no?
The Capitol, as this city is called, is ringed by 12 poverty-stricken districts that it exploits for its own well-being. Two teenagers from each district — known as “tributes” — are brought to the Capitol annually and forced to fight to the death in a horrific reality TV show called the Hunger Games. Although the novel never pinpoints the Capitol’s precise location, it has set the Internet buzzing with fan speculation — from detailed maps of Panem to message board discussions — that today’s Denver area is the future haunt of nasty President Snow and his corrupt, hedonistic minions.
Of course, this isn’t the image that Visit Denver usually strives to promote.
But now there are about 25 million copies of the three “Hunger Games” books in print in the United States, and the new movie starring Jennifer Lawrence could be 2012’s biggest blockbuster. Surely it’s never been more vital to discover whether the Colorado capital holds the template for our dystopian future.
Is Denver the Capitol in “The Hunger Games”?
Armed with only a well-thumbed copy of the novel and 16-year-old heroine Katniss Everdeen’s never-say-die attitude, I searched for clues during a mid-March visit to the Mile-High City.
My downtown hotel, the towering, glass-laden Hyatt Regency Denver, could be the future Training Center for Hunger Games tributes, those chosen as arena fighters in the dreaded “reaping.” A front-door sign read: “Activities within this Hyatt Hotel are subject to surveillance and video recording.” Clearly I’d come to the right place.
Exploring my 37th-floor room, I recalled Katniss’s words: “My quarters are larger than our entire house back home. They are plush . . . but also have so many automatic gadgets that I’m sure I won’t have time to press all the buttons.” The luxurious 1,308-square-foot Bristlecone Suite boasted three flat-screen TVs (one embedded in the master bathroom mirror) and a computer with a monstrous monitor, plus a stainless steel refrigerator and microwave in the marble-countered kitchenette.