Linda Rondeau’s dystopian novel, America II will soon be released by Trestle Press, http://www.trestlepresspublishing.com/. She recently posted an article, “What is Dystopian Literature?” which I found particularly interesting, because I recently published a dystopian novel, The Portal, http://www.amazon.com/The-Portal-eboo…
Linda and I have different views of Dystopia, but that’s what makes the discussion interesting. Here’s what Linda had to say.
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When I set out to write the America II trilogy, I wasn’t thinking in terms of a genre, especially not a genre within a genre. Sci-fi-speculative-futuristic-political-thriller-dystopian and all those labels were something I hadn’t anticipated. I merely entertained the idea: If societal trends that exist today continue full speed ahead, what would the world look like in 2073?Then someone reviewed my book and called it dystopian. Someone else said it reminded them a little of Hunger Games, a book I hadn’t even read. I’ve heard other writers refer to their book in the same manner. So I did some research, and sure enough, America II falls within the definition of Dystopian Literature, although, it really is vastly different than Hunger Games, though it does contain some of the elements commonly seen in Dystopian books.With the onset of the wildly popular The Hunger Games, dystopian literature is now the fastest growing preference in young adult fiction. Some experts argue the reason is because today’s young people are disaffected with today’s culture. They see little hope on the horizon.Such was the climate of George Orwell’s 1984, written in 1948, a poignant story of a totalitarian government, a few years following the end of World War II. People were frightened of the growth of communism as well as the advent of the Atomic bomb. Hysteria and fear were rampant. World War II vets, returning from their service, could not get jobs.C.S. Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia, written post World War II, also explores this loss of hope in the world as it is an allegory of the fall of mankind. Narnia was once Utopia (The Garden of Eden) but became Dystopia, ruled by an evil Snow Queen.

With a stagnant economy, housing crunch, and wide unemployment, not just in America but world-wide, I wonder if we have not grown into another aura of paranoia regarding our future. Hence, the resurgent popularity of Dystopian topics.

Dystopia is derived from the Ancient Greek and means a bad place. By definition, Dystopia is the opposite of Utopia which is a derivative of the Greek word meaning place and sounds like the English homophone (eutopia) which is derived from the Greek to mean good or well. In combination then, Utopia, has come to mean a good place. Utopia is often thought of as Heaven on earth, paradise today, where the world lives in peace and no one dies of hunger. Where there is no such thing as crime. In the classic, The Time Machine, a scientist creeps into the future to see if the world can cure its ills. He stumbles upon a seeming Utopia until he realizes human beings are being raised as food for underground monsters.

According to Wikipedia, Dystopian literature has these in common: idea of a society, generally of a speculative future, characterized by negative, anti-utopian elements, varying from environmental to political and social issues.

Most Dystopian themes will characterize society as oppressive or totalitarian. While the world seems dark and unappealing to the reader, the minor characters or society sees nothing wrong with the way things are. There is generally a character or characters that is dissatisfied and wants things to change. Therein is the conflict, the character pitted against society, like Don Quixote, flailing his sword at windmills.

Other classic dystopian literature includes: Brave New World, Fahrenheit 451, and The Iron Heel. Unlike most Dystopian themes, and more like Chronicles of Narnia, America II: The Reformation offers hope for an improved society. It also reminds the reader of God’s continued interest and involvement in the affairs of His creation.

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