On Dystopia

Let’s get into the fictional world a bit, okay? Okay.

So, dystopian fiction! So popular lately. The Hunger Games. Divergent. What have you. What’s all that stuff about?

Well, I’m here to tell you.

Just let me push my glasses up my nose, here. Have to get the right pretentious feel of the geek who knows so much more than everyone else, you know?

There. That’s better.

Anyway, my roommate absolutely loathes anything dystopian. I have a hard time understanding that. Sure, I’m not into the recent fad, but there are some really great dystopian stories out there. Anthem is one of my favorite examples. Harrison Bergeron. I love the way they make me think! So, this all lead me to write her a little mini-essay about dystopias, which I will shell out for you all, here.

Before you get any farther, no, I’m not talking about the new ones. They are not relevant to my rambling. I try to avoid them.

Once upon a time, in a Utah town not all that far away, Mac was in high school, and had the opportunity to specifically study fantasy and science fiction. For credit.

Oh, it was a magical time! Filled with some of the worst, and best, books she had ever read.

But that’s not the point. I digress. Again.

See, dystopia is an attempt to moderate the extremists. You know, those people with all their fancy ideas for how the world could be better. If we were all equal! If we all shared, and the government ran everything! If we didn’t let emotion control us! If we could all be pretty! If we could stop crimes before they happen by analyzing someone’s psyche!

The point of a dystopian story is to say, “Yes, but. . .” and take that utopia these people have imagined, and point out the flaws. Show people the awful truth behind the pretty lies.

Now, dystopias are downright depressing, usually. But they do make you think (or me, at least). It makes me open my eyes a little more to the world around me, and realize that things aren’t as bad as they could be. Not by a long shot!

I’d provide you guys with a list of my favorite dystopian books/movies/what have you, but I’m not a very good judge. That stuff and depression don’t really mix well together, sometimes. I tried, and I could only come up with three off the top of my head. I haven’t even read most of the greats. So I will duck my head back down, and shut up now.

Thanks for reading. You guys rock.

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For the Love of Character!

Just finished an amazing book: Warchild by Karin Lowachee—a science fiction novel. Most genre fiction of my admittedly limited experience focuses on the world. They wow you with ships and space travel, magic and unicorns, princesses and dragons and orcs and ogres and weird new aliens and different planets, Earth as it will be or once was, and so on. The characters themselves are bland—just like a thousand other characters out there. You know little about them besides their names and generally what they look like, and you forget about them as soon as the book’s over.

BORING.

I can’t muddle my way through books like that, which is why I’ve had to stay away from the fantasy/sci-fi sections of the book store lately. But I’m always on the lookout for something to restore my faith in genre fiction. Warchild has been one of those. It’s not perfect, but I’d say the main character is just as strong and interesting and dynamic as the main character in some hoity toity literary novel.

(Note: It’s not a gay romance novel. Goodreads users have listed it as LGBT and m/m romance. It’s not, though the other books in the series might head that way. The main character in this one’s asexual.)

O, genre fiction! O, refuge of my childhood! Where did the character development go? What happened to personal challenges being overcome? Heck, what happened to the people, and why am I surrounded by cardboard cutouts? It’s all about flashy toys, now.  Or, if the characters are passably human, how It Got Worse and Darker and Edgier.

And that’s why I stick to the fiction and literature shelves. But still, I keep hoping. Searching the vast stacks of books at every bookstore and library far and wide, just hoping I’ll find something special that will restore my faith in genre fiction.