For those of you who don’t know I’ve been planning this special/feature of posts for the month of September all related to or about Dystopian fiction. There were two reasons why i decided to do this: 1) Is that I’m going back to school tomorrow and starting Year Ten, and my timetable is is soooooo full this year that I won’t be able to post as often. Though I’ll try for at least two posts every seven days. 2) It was just an idea I had that I thought would be really fun to get different people (authors, and bloggers) involved.
Even though this took a bit of planning and adjusting it was really fun and I just want to thank everyone who contributed and helped make this possible!
Welcome back, to another Dystopian Delights post, today I’ve have a post from Alex Woolf author of ‘Soul Shadows’ who’s thinking about the future!
The future of Dystopian Fiction is looking very rosy! by Alex Woolf
I seem to be watching a lot of dystopian television at the moment. I’m currently caught up in The Walking Dead and Stephen King’s Under the Dome and soon to start on Jericho. I’ve also read quite a bit of dystopia in recent years, including The Hunger Games, Gone and the marvelous Soterion Mission by my friend Stewart Ross. In fact I was reading dystopian fiction long before I’d even heard of this term. As a boy I gobbled up 1984, The Day of the Triffids, Fahrenheit 451, The Running Man, Brave New World and many others.
What was it about these books that gripped me, that grips all of us – because they’re among the most popular novels ever written? What they all have in common are, of course, exciting plots and strong characters we can identify with. But, more important than that, the best dystopian stories take ordinary people and place them in extraordinary situations. They are stories of survival against the odds, struggles between good and evil in the most brutal of settings. They imagine futures or even alternative presents in which the human species has taken a wrong turn, intolerance has won out, brute force holds sway, or else we’ve found ourselves confronted by something we simply can’t deal with, like a deadly plague or zombies or giant man-eating plants.
We all like to imagine what might happen to us if the world suddenly went to hell, and dystopian fiction gives us a safe place to indulge such speculations. If the power grid went down, mobiles stopped working, and the supermarkets ran out of food, if the streets became overrun with savage gangs, would we be among the survivors, hiding out in abandoned schools and factories? Would we be honorable and try and save as many people as we can? Or would we live and let everyone else die? Would we plan and strategise for the future, try to carve out something resembling civilization, or would we spend our remaining days eating, drinking and partying?
People have been obsessed with dystopian futures ever since John the Apostle wrote about his apocalyptic visions in the Book of Revelation, and probably since a long time before that, so it’s not an obsession of the modern age. Over the years, some have also imagined positive futures, utopias, but these have never been as popular. Personally, I think the future will be a mix of good and bad, a ‘dis-utopia’, if you like. I write about one such scenario in my sci-fi trilogy Chronosphere. In my future, life is slick and high-tech with hover-bikes and personal robots that wash and cook and clean for you, and time stores where you can buy yourself an extra year if you like. But there’s also a lot of bad stuff going on behind the scenes, with powerful people using the new time-warping technology to torture people and bend them to their will.
Dystopian fiction often envelopes the entire world, but it doesn’t necessarily have to. All the elements that make dystopian fiction so exciting can work just as well if the characters are trapped in a place that effectively becomes their world. The boys stuck on the uninhabited island in Lord of the Flies, for example. The same choices must be made by the characters: do we degenerate into animals fighting and killing each other to survive, or do we retain our humanity, our nobility?
There are so many possible stories that can be told on this theme, and with all the advances in technology there will always be new, imaginative and disturbing scenarios arising for the downfall of civilization (bio-engineering and nanotechnology to take just two). So, with the greatest possible irony, I’d say the future for dystopian fiction is looking very rosy indeed!
Thank You for that Alex! It was a very thought provoking post and I’m glad we all got a chance to read it! Alex has also offered a copy of his book Soul Shadows to be used in a giveaway which you can enter here: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/24109b2/
Bio – Alex Woolf has worked as a writer and editor for over 20 years and has published around 80 works of fiction and non-fiction, mainly for children and young adults. As well as the Chronosphere series, he’s also written Soul Shadows, a dystopian horror novel about shadows that come to life, published in 2013 by Curious Fox. He lives in Southgate, North London, with his wife and two children.