Dystopias and Social Critiques discussion

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Favorite/Least Favorite thing about Dystopia

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message 1: by Morrigan (new)

Morrigan Marsion (themorrigan) | 2 comments I would just like to welcome all fellow Dystopia fans.

I may as well strike up a conversation about it. So Why do you like/dislike Dystopia Fiction?

For me, ever since I fell in love with Dystopias I see them in everything I watch and read. I know that dystopia are a seemingly dominant sci-fi theme even if the sci-fi is not classified as such, there is almost always elements of such a control.

I think I like a good Dystopia because of the overbearing figure that, whether knowingly or not, is bigger then the biggest picture that you can even imagine. That, plus, when people want to try to reform it their efforts are normally futile.


message 2: by Jonathan (new)

Jonathan (jprancestry) A dystopian world is one in which things are anything but good. Life is not pleasant in this kind of world. Things have gone wrong. It's interesting to me to come across so many creative, ingenious ideas used by writers to describe how the world came to be the way it is. Was there a medical experiment gone wrong? Was there a genetic mutation? Warfare? Extreme social paranoia due to fear of some 'external' force? Aliens took over the world? Someone went back in time and changed something in history? The wrong people are in power? This is what interests me most about dystopian novels, short stories, poems, and films and other visual art. Technology gone wrong. Villains in power. There is a seemingly infinite number of possibilities for how a world can go wrong. Just read the newspapers and magazines, particularly the headlines. Browse news stories and headlines on the web. Make a list of all the movies out there with a one- or two-sentence synopsis of the movie. The material is all around us.


message 3: by Stephen (new)

Stephen Graff (sgraffwriter) | 6 comments We're living in a dystopian world--with big government/big money seemingly stamping down resistance. Look at New York, where a showdown seems to be coming. Look at the general trends. The average American, for instance, is less and less able to make his/her voice heard. Writers don't have to use quite as much imagination to re-imagine their worlds and convert those words into books.


message 4: by Nadine (new)

Nadine | 5 comments What I love about dystopian literature is the way, things the author dislikes about today's society are put to the extreme. Like in "Fahrenheit 451", where the tendency to "stop reading" and be entertained/ flooded by TV is thought to the extreme in which books are being forbidden and burned.
There always seems to be some part of today's way of thinking and living that inspires the writers of dystopies to think it all the way, to make the readers think about how likely/unlikely that scenario is or if we are moving into the very same direction.
On another level I enjoy dystopies because our lives and our societies with all their flaws suddenly seem quite a paradise ;-).


message 5: by Michael (new)

Michael | 14 comments We tend to think of our own society warping toward a dystopian future, but think of the folks in Africa where dictators let warlords and bandits starve and displace hundreds of thousands to a life with little or no future. In my recent THE BLENDING TIME, I predicted some of the dystopia to come based on anti-corporation riots. It's amazing how the so-called status quo can change so quickly.


message 6: by Dana * (last edited Oct 17, 2011 08:50AM) (new)

Dana * (queenofegypt) @Jay, well said. That is how I perceive it also.
@Stephen, I would disagree that the average person is less able to have their voice heard. On the contrary, I think the average and really, any person, is better able to have their voice heard than ever. I'm excercising that right now. Now, those who don't have access to the internet superhighway are those that can't be heard as well, but they usually have advocates that can speak for them. It only takes one perso, in our 'long tail' communication structure, to make a message heard. The world is flat again.
@ Nadine, I agree also, I really enjoy the different viewpoints of one item, taken to an extreme, and the action it provokes, and the society that results. So often it is eugenics, and how does that reflect on how we loathe those who embraced eugenics, like Hitler? For instance, something that seems all good on the surface, like elimination of disease. But how is that applied? Who decides what disease is? Yes, lets eliminate cancer, but then do we eliminate obesity, or freckles or double jointedness?


message 7: by Jonathan (new)

Jonathan (jprancestry) Through our media we may be painting a picture of the world that makes it seem to some people that we live in a 'dystopian' world, but I don't see it that way. In the cities and 'urban' parts of our world we live lifestyles that seem very different than what we live in the much more 'rural' areas throughout the world, and there are many parts of the world that can appear to be 'hells on earth' ('slums' in developing countries, environmental disaster areas, landfills, warzones...), but there are still many areas in the world that can hardly be described as 'dystopian'. I think of some of the places I've lived in Virginia, Michigan, Ohio, and Massachusetts, and I just don't get the feeling that I'm living in a world like that in '1984', 'Brave New World', 'Equilibrium', 'The Matrix', or 'Gattaca'. I think that writers can definitely take elements from our world and hype them up and exaggerate them to create a dystopian world of imagination very easily. I'm aware of the complaints that some people don't feel confident that their voices are being heard or that they have the means to make their voices heard. It is true that our institutions and our very own socio-economic power structure works in ways that makes this so. However, I don't see 'the resistance', 'the reactionaries', 'the activists', or 'the revolutionaries' offering alternative systems, and without an alternative system, then where exactly are we headed if we tear down our system? I love Bradbury's 'Fahrenheit 451' because it spoke to me about my own fears related to the role of television in our culture and society. Our communication, at times, seems to be becoming more and more dependent on technology related to the tv. Our entertainment channels are becoming more and more passive. In reaction, there seems to be movements towards being more active in our lives, but in developing countries there is less time for leisure, anyway, so it's not the same for everyone. I've been enjoying reading books since I was very young, and I hope to always be able to read books and magazines and newspapers. If it weren't for some discontent, however, there would be no good dystopian novels to read, so the point is that no world is a utopia. Quite literally.


message 8: by Jonathan (new)

Jonathan (jprancestry) I also really love tales that relate to eugenics and genetic screening and genetic mutation. The 'Rise of the Planet of the Apes' movie was an excellent story that was based on the fear that, in the name of science and technology, in the name of conquering diseases and other health problems, we may rely on short-term solutions to our problems, and in doing so, we may create worse problems for ourselves. In that film it was the goal to cure Alzheimer's Disease that created a vaccine that had certain side-effects on the primates the researchers used in their tests that created a whole chain of other effects. I love stories that have a certain 'science-gone-wrong' element to them, like 'I Am Legend', 'Underworld', 'Andromeda Strain', 'Resident Evil', and 'Wall-E', and all of these stories are told in film. I love reading books, and movies and film will never be an adequate replacement for reading, but film is an incredible storytelling medium for dystopia.


message 9: by Carisa (new)

Carisa Burns (carisaburns) | 1 comments I love the creativity of dystopia books; how the world came to be destroyed and what people do to survive and/or create a new world. I like to imagine what my place would be in that world and how I would react. I kind of like the idea of starting over, however that would be. So, I guess i like dystopia/post apocalyptica novels.


message 10: by Alison (new)

Alison Stewart (alisonds) | 4 comments I agree, Linda. Though dystopia is by definition bleak, I do believe a fair bit of it deals in redemption and hope. And despite the confronting disintegration of a familiar world, it can also be telling us that there is room for a compassionate society that values decency and integrity. That’s how I choose to read it, on the whole. Even Cormac McCarthy’s brilliant The Road offers hope in the character of the boy who, in the midst of horror retains his essential humanity.
I'm enjoying all these thoughtful take on this great genre (aka “the literature of ideas”). What comes through is that it is a highly political genre, prompting us to examine what we really want from our society.
Alison Stewart
Author of Days Like This (Penguin Australia 2011)


message 11: by Christina (new)

Christina (EricaJae) | 3 comments I love how creative the books are. Each backstory of why the world is the way it is is interesting to me. Dystopians aren't like every other book on the market. They're not sappy love stories or about trivial things like (shudders) prom. It's all or nothing for the characters in the genre. They're fighting for something much bigger than themselves and trying to fix the fractured world they live in. There's a glimmer of hope in every story and the protagonist has to go through the 9 circles of hell to reach it. They also warn us of what society could become if we cross too many lines...
xx


message 12: by Alison (new)

Alison Stewart (alisonds) | 4 comments So true, Christina!


message 13: by Sav (new)

Sav | 1 comments I enjoy reading dystopias because I feel they are warnings about what could go wrong in our society. To me, each dystopian novel represents a terrible future that will never happen because, with it being made tangible in a book, we have now been warned about said future. These books spread awareness. The more people that read them, the better.

I also like them because they make me feel better about today's society. We may have X, Y, and Z problems, but we're so lucky it ends there!


message 14: by Alison (new)

Alison Stewart (alisonds) | 4 comments I agree, Ryoko. Dystopian writing is cautionary by definition, making the genre highly political. To my way of thinking, it's being aware of society's negative tendencies - greed, excess individualism at the expense of others, exploitation, economic and social inequality - and then making choices about the kind of world we want.

And as you say, many of us (though not all) are still lucky to live in a world where we can choose and this reinforces the positives about our society.

The exciting part about dystopia is the "what if" - to imagine a harsher world and how we would cope.

Alison Stewart
Author of Days Like This

Days Like This by Alison Stewart


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