In Search of Dystopia

Dystopian novels project the fears and faults of their own time, exaggerated and through metaphors, into the future. An author’s imagination adds to the mix, presenting a message through the narrative of new, frightening technology, politics, society or distant worlds. Such stories share a platform with satire, shining a light upon failures, dressing them up discretely and popularising the notion via the grotesque. An additional kudos comes to the author whose warnings turn out to be prophetic, when reality comes to mirror what began as fiction. Ironically, perhaps a truly successful dystopian novel has its warnings heeded, the future taking a different, positive path, the writer forgotten and consigned to the rubbish heap of false prophets. Our contemporary world appears to offer a plentiful harvest of the fruits of despair: climate change, pandemics, Big Brother technology and international terrorism, to name but a few. The fruit that falls into your lap, however, doesn’t have to be the one with which you create your dystopian adventure. Where’s the fun in telling people what they already know or in addressing an issue too close to reality? How can you satire the politician who already personifies all things satirical? Orwell’s 1984 had an impact because in 1948 he recognised the political will existed to control all aspects of a citizen’s life but not yet the technical means. So he created a future world where the tools and conditions made it possible, sending a warning about what others could not see. While today’s climate is conducive in fermenting a mood for dystopian stories, the everyday items and issues from our lives hold an equally fertile terrain for themes to build meaningful adventures. For example,  TV is awash with gambling adverts, options to bet on the minutiae of a sports event, while game apps urge our children to risk their pocket money… read more →