Why Dystopian? It’s a question I inevitably get asked every time the topic of the books and essays I pen, are discussed. My short answer is this: Do I get a choice? My long answer then ensues: It’s what makes us human.
The dystopian genre is a tidy reflection of the good, bad and the in-betweens of humanity in a difficult situation. The dystopian society is the stable society (albeit not one we fancy ourselves in) in which a fundamental freedom or sacrifice has occurred. A dystopian society is an avoidable one. It isn’t post-apocalyptic. Post-apocalyptic usually comes after the dystopian society, when the masses or the military have had enough and destroyed everything or the planet has simply fizzled out as H.G. Wells frames it. No. Dystopian is the human under the magnifying glass when there’s still a choice left to be made—will we kill, will we save, will we love, will we hate? Is there room for the family unit or is it every man, woman and child for themselves? The pertinent questions.
The dystopian society is the stable society (albeit not one we fancy ourselves in) in which a fundamental freedom or sacrifice has occurred. A dystopian society is an avoidable one.
It is these key elements that ignite the curiosity within myself and many others. The question of survival and how we as people go about obtaining and sustaining that survival. It’s a relevant question in a world full of war and destruction; is it any wonder we cling onto every episode of The Walking Dead (a post-apocalyptic show now deeply based in the dystopian sub genre—there’ll be a blog on this); or every movie of Divergent and The Hunger Games (a stable dystopian society moving into the apocalyptic arena)? We’re seeking to make sense of it all.
Once the dystopian society strips bare the threads of humanity, only then can we truly understand what it means to be alive.
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