Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish in June 2010.
June 7: Ten Reasons I Love Dystopian Fiction
(In no particular order)
- Dystopian fiction often takes an idea from sociology and stretches it to the limit. Once upon a time I was a sociology major. It’s interesting to connect the dots, to see how the ideas that have been talked about in my classes play out in a fictional world.
- The setting is familiar and new at the same time. There are usually bits and pieces of the modern world, places and things we’d recognize. The authors like to surprise the readers with the ruins of the modern world.
- There is so much variety. Like any other genre it has it’s troupes (super teenagers,) but I love how there are also so many different ways that the world could fall into chaos, and then be rebuilt.
- Allegory. Most dystopian fiction serves as an allegory usually exaggerating an excess of society. Such as live TV shows being taken to the extreme in books like the Running Man and the Hunger Games. Even if it’s not an intentional allegory, most of it can be read as one. How could you not read a downfall and rebuilding of society as an allegory? Even unintentionally there are sure to be political or cultural undertones.
- It plays with the idea of authority. It is easy for us to view authority the way its portrayed in dystopian stories. In most dystopian stories the leaders are corrupt, oppressive, they keep secrets, and do or allow terrible things. Corporate or military powers that have gone out of control. Political leaders who lie to us, and manipulate us, etc.
- Hero’s who rise up against this authority.
- Philosophy lessons. My philosophy professor hated making any connection between fiction and philosophy. But for many the ideas of philosophy are too hard to reach, too abstract. Fiction often borrows from philosophy and in dystopian fiction it is particularly strong. For example, I can think of a dozen stories that use Plato’s cave.
- Lies we accept. Many people live with the feeling that we are being lied to, that the truth is just below to surface. Dystopian fiction preys on that fear, and in return is cathartic too. (This also ties in with the philosophy lessons.)
- Coming of age. I enjoy the coming of age sub-genre. Which is probably why I’ve made reading the Newbery books a goal. These days dystopian fiction is pretty much all coming of age tales (goodbye to the days of 1984 and Fahrenheit 451.) What’s really interesting about the dystopian version is that it’s always a coming of age in a time of extreme adversity, and usually the main character who comes of age makes decisions that ultimately change their society.
- It’s a guilty pleasure.