Thursday, April 7, 2011

What is Dystopia? Well, Let Me Tell You!

Ehem. According to the ever-so-knowledgeable wikipedia,

"A dystopia is an anti-utopia, often futuristic society that has degraded into a repressive and controlled state, often under the guise of being utopian. Dystopian literature has underlying cautionary tones, warning society that if we continue to live how we do, this will be the consequence. "

But that's not all. The other day, I saw Lucy V Morgan, authoress of the blog Literary Friction, questioning what dystopia is all about. Well, Lucy, here's some of the things that I love about dystopian fiction.

Dystopias are all about discovery and inner turmoil. They're as much about the fight to overcome a society as they are about the fight to figure out what the hell the main characters are looking for in life. All their lives, the MCs have been told how to live and what to do, and now they get to figure it out. Dystopias are often full of symbolism that relates back to the way we live, supplying readers with constant questions about their own world. You get to learn with the characters--what things do I need to rebel against and what can I never give up.

In addition, dystopias are often full of firsts, because the story takes place as the characters are learning the truth about their environment. You can see the world though the eyes of someone who's seeing it for the first time, (which is magnified x1000 when you add a YA aspect.)

Dystopias are all about extremes. All of the times you asked "I wonder how much of this I could handle before..." Dystopias will show you. This makes for some interesting characters, because they also tend to fall in the far most ends of the spectrum.

As has been made obvious by the recent boom in dystopian lit, there are infinite ways to spin dystopia. I love dystopian novels because of their raw sincerity. So tell me: what's your favorite thing about dystopian fiction?

<3 Gina Blechman


  1. Why do I love Dystopians? Because it takes some traumatic, wide-spread event (usually post-apocalyptic, but not necessarily) and speculates on what would happen to our earth, to humanity, to life as we know it. How long would it take humanity to turn on itself, and what kind of character, what kind of moral fiber does it take to rise above that? Now that is some crazy, rich character development!

  2. I like the pyschological aspect of dystopia best. Somebody once said to me, "to write a good character, you must know exactly what to take from them." That's what dystopia does. It provides outer conflict in one foul, twisted swoop. Throw anybody, anybody at all into dystopia and watch them get interesting :)