Friday, April 4, 2014

D is for Dystopian Fiction



Dystopian futures have often been depicted in science fiction.  George Orwell’s 1984, Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, and the more recent Hunger Games trilogy from Suzanne Collins are just a few well-known examples of a dystopian fiction.  Dystopian novels and films have long been a popular part of sci-fi.  As humans, we know that darkness looms within us, and human-built societal structures can either bring out the best or the worst in us.  Anything we as humans build, after all, are reflections of ourselves.  Those flawed systems benefit a select few at the expense of others.  Personal liberties are curtailed in a myriad of ways, whether it be through a restriction of speech, of personal belief, of political power, of personal relationships, etc.  In a dystopian society, poverty is often a fact of life, as those in power keep a majority of wealth for themselves.

Though I could perform an in-depth analysis of each kind of dystopian society portrayed in fiction, I would instead like to contemplate why people enjoy reading about them or seeing them depicted in film.  Often times we indulge in fantasy to escape the real world, but dystopian fiction is hardly the type of fiction that promotes escapism.  Perhaps reading about such a stark existence may help you to appreciate the things you have, but there’s something more to our love of these bleak scenarios.

Maybe we are intrigued by fictional dystopian societies because our world has its own history of them, and that kind of darkness that exists in our past intrigues us.  Perhaps we simply like the see the hero or heroine of the story stand up against incredible odds and triumph.  Who doesn’t like to see an underdog succeed, or at the very least, put up a brave fight until the bitter end?  Perhaps it gives us hope to see that, no matter how bad things get, the better nature of humanity still shines bright.

Which elements of various dystopian futures do you see in today’s society?  Why do you think dystopian stories captivate readers?  What would you count as a dystopian society, taking into account that said society is creating a comfortable existence for some?


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16 comments:

  1. I recently watch a documentary titled Hitler's Children, about the Hitler Youth movement. The Nazi Party took great pains to bring all of Germany's "eligible" children into the Hitler Youth and keep them so busy that they pulled them away from their parents' influence. Hitler understood that one of the key building blocks of a dystopian society us to subvert the younger generation.

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  3. I have a weak spot for dystopian universes. I love reading about them and watching them in films and tv. I think it's how human nature is portrayed and examined that really get's me into it and like you said, who doesn't like an underdog story. But it's also more than that, it's seeing the people live in a dystopian universe and sometimes not realizing they are in one.

    (not sure what happened with my last comment)

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  4. I am enjoying reading your AtoZ.. Heard of the term only today.. Interesting! Surprisingly many dystopian stories seem to have a common thread in visualizing a dark future where buildings, smoke, dirt and grey air are common.. Wonder how this influenced everyone

    GS at Moontime Tunes

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  5. I'm really enjoying your A to Z! And we're only 4 days in :)

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  6. As a purist, I'm rather annoyed at how these days, post-apocalyptic has come to mean dystopian. I think of a dystopia as Brave New World, 1984, or We, a utopia gone wrong, a society that looks so happy on the surface, where most people think they're happy, and only a few oddballs dare to question the order. A lot of the so-called dystopias I've seen lately don't meet that definition at all.

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  7. Surveillance is big one these days.

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  8. I'm not sure why I like reading dystopian - maybe just because it's different. In each dystopian novel, the world is completely different. It's like reading about an entirely different place, rather than the world we know.

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  9. I think I like Dystopia because it allows us to embody what we see is wrong with society and enhance it, thus bringing awareness to the injustices of every day life most people overlook or accept.

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  10. I tend to gravitate more to the dystopians because, if you look at history, they tend to emulate real life.

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  11. Thinking about dystopian fiction (which I love), it IS dark, as you say, and it's society gone wrong as Crystal says, all twisted and warped. It embodies the worst of our fears it seems, and maybe that's one of the reasons I like it. It challenges us to face those fears. But mostly, I like a setting that's different from my world, which is also why I like historical fiction. Shells–Tales–Sails

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  12. I adore dystopian. It is one of my favorite genres. I don't QUITE write in it, though I love 'near apocalypse'--how that horrid future begins... publishing one now, serially. I can see eventually adding dystopian to my writing list... once I've ended civilized society enough times I probably ought to go forward, eh? But I will love reading them forever.

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  13. My love of Dystopian I believe is the love of escaping to a different world while at the same time is a reflection of our current society. A way of seeing a possible outcome to the way things are, or a retelling of past evens... showing that history repeats itself.

    http://www.chrisvotey.com/writing/blog/category/a-to-z-challenge/

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  14. Oooh, my favorite D so far. I love Dystopian stories!

    Random Musings from the KristenHead — D is for 'Defiance' (and Dogs)

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