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Encyclopedia > Dystopia

A dystopia (from the Greek δυσ- and τόπος, alternatively, cacotopia,[1] kakotopia or anti-utopia) is a fictional society that is the antithesis of utopia. A dystopic society is characterised by negative traits the author chooses to illustrate, such as poverty, dictatorship, violence, and/or pollution. Look up dystopia in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... Look up Antithesis in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... For other uses, see Utopia (disambiguation). ...


Some academic circles distinguish between anti-utopia and dystopia. As in George Orwell's 1984, and Yevgeny Zamyatin's "We", a dystopia does not pretend to be good, while an anti-utopia appears to be utopian or was intended to be so, but a fatal flaw or other factor has destroyed or twisted the intended utopian world or concept.[2] Eric Arthur Blair (25 June 1903 [1] [2] – 21 January 1950), better known by the pen name George Orwell, was an English author and journalist. ... This article is about the Orwell novel. ... Yevgeny Zamyatin by Boris Kustodiev (1923) Yevgeny Ivanovich Zamyatin (Евге́ний Ива́нович Замя́тин sometimes translated into English as Eugene Zamyatin) (February 1, 1884 – March 10, 1937) was a Russian author, most famous for his novel We, a story of dystopian future which influenced George Orwells Nineteen Eighty-Four and Aldous Huxleys Brave... We (Russian: )[1] is a dystopian novel by Yevgeny Zamyatin completed in 1921. ...

Contents

Origin of the word

The first known use of the term dystopia appeared in a speech before the British Parliament by Greg Webber and John Stuart Mill[3] in 1868. In that speech, Mill said, "It is, perhaps, too complimentary to call them Utopians, they ought rather to be called dys-topians, or caco-topians. What is commonly called Utopian is something too good to be practicable; but what they appear to favour is too bad to be practicable."[4] His knowledge of Greek suggests that he was referring to a bad place, rather than simply the opposite of Utopia. The Greek prefix "dys" ("δυσ-") signifies "ill", "bad" or "abnormal"; Greek "topos" ("τόπος") meaning "place"; and Greek "ou-" ("ου") meaning "not". Thus, Utopia means "nowhere", and is a pun on "Eutopia" meaning "happy place" - the prefix "eu" means "well," or "good." The Parliament of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is the supreme legislative institution in the United Kingdom and British overseas territories (it alone has parliamentary sovereignty). ... John Stuart Mill (20 May 1806 – 8 May 1873), British philosopher, political economist, civil servant and Member of Parliament, was an influential liberal thinker of the 19th century. ... Year 1868 (MDCCCLXVIII) was a leap year starting on Wednesday (link will display the full calendar) of the Gregorian Calendar (or a leap year starting on Monday of the 12-day slower Julian calendar). ... For other uses, see Utopia (disambiguation). ...


Common traits of a dystopian society

The only trait common to all dystopias is that they are negative and undesirable societies, but many commonalities are found across dystopian societies.


In general, dystopias are seen as visions of "dangerous and alienating future societies," often criticizing current trends in culture.[5]


It is a culture where the condition of life is "extremely bad," as from deprivation, oppression, or terror.[6]


Counter-utopia

Many dystopias, found in fictional and artistic works, can be described as a utopian society with at least one fatal flaw.[7] Whereas a utopian society is founded on perfectionism and fullfilment, a dystopian society’s dreams of improvement are overshadowed by stimulating fears of the “ugly consequences of present-day behavior”.[8]. Hamartia is a Greek word. ...


Society

Most dystopias impose severe social restrictions on the characters' lives.


This can take the form of social stratification, where social class is strictly defined and enforced, and social mobility is non-existent (see caste system). For example, the novel Brave New World's class system is prenatally designated in terms of Alphas, Betas, Gammas, Deltas, and Epsilons, who lack the very ability to advance. social stratification is the division of people of a particular society on the basis if occupation, income, power, prestige, authority, status, dignity, education, class, castle, gender, race and ethnicity In sociology, social stratification is the hierarchical arrangement of social classes, castes and strata within a society. ... Social class refers to the hierarchical distinctions between individuals or groups in societies or cultures. ... Social mobility is the degree to which, in a given society, an individuals social status can change throughout the course of their life (known as intragenerational mobility), or the degree to which that individuals offspring and subsequent generations move up and down the class system (intergenerational mobility). ... Caste systems are traditional, hereditary systems of social classification, that evolved due to the enormous diversity in India (where all three primary races met, not by forced slavery but by immigration). ... For other uses, see Brave New World (disambiguation). ...


Another, often related form of restriction lies in the requirement of strict conformity among citizens, with a general assumption that dissent and individuality are bad. In the novel We by Yevgeny Zamyatin, people are permitted to live out of public view for only an hour a day. They are not only referred to by numbers instead of names, but are neither "citizens" nor "people", but "numbers." In the lower castes, in Brave New World, single embryos are "bokanovskified", so that they produce between eight and ninety-six identical twins, making the citizens as uniform as possible.[9] We (Russian: )[1] is a dystopian novel by Yevgeny Zamyatin completed in 1921. ... Yevgeny Zamyatin by Boris Kustodiev (1923) Yevgeny Ivanovich Zamyatin (Евге́ний Ива́нович Замя́тин sometimes translated into English as Eugene Zamyatin) (February 1, 1884 – March 10, 1937) was a Russian author, most famous for his novel We, a story of dystopian future which influenced George Orwells Nineteen Eighty-Four and Aldous Huxleys Brave...


Some dystopian works emphasize the pressure to conform in terms of the requirement to not excel. In these works, the society is ruthlessly egalitarian, in which ability and accomplishment, or even competence, are suppressed or stigmatized as forms of inequality, as in Kurt Vonnegut's "Harrison Bergeron". Similarly, in Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451, the dystopia represses the intellectuals with particular force, because most people are willing to accept it, and the resistance to it consists mostly of intellectuals.[10] Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. ... The references in this article would be clearer with a different and/or consistent style of citation, footnoting or external linking. ... Ray Douglas Bradbury (born August 22, 1920) is an American literary, fantasy, horror, science fiction, and mystery writer best known for The Martian Chronicles, a 1950 book which has been described both as a short story collection and a novel, and his 1953 dystopian novel Fahrenheit 451. ... This article is about the novel. ...


In a typical dystopia, there is a total absence of any social group besides the state, as in We, or such social groups being subdivisions of the state, under government control, for example, the Junior Anti-Sex League in 1984. This article is about the Orwell novel. ...


Among social groups, independent religions are notable by their absence. In Brave New World, the establishment of the state including lopping off the tops of all crosses (as symbols of Christianity) to make them "T"s, (as symbols of Henry Ford's Model T).[11] The state may stage, instead, a personality cult, with quasi-religious rituals about a central figure, usually a head of state or an oligarchy of some sort, such as Big Brother in 1984, or the Well-Doer of We. In explicitly theocratic dystopias, such as Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale, the religion is the state, and is enforced with the same vigor as any secular dystopia's rule; it does not provide social bonds outside the state. Adolf Hitler built a strong cult of personality, based on the Führerprinzip. ... For the comedy film of the same name, see Head of State (film). ... Forms of government Part of the Politics series Politics Portal This box:      Oligarchy (Greek , Oligarkhía) is a form of government where political power effectively rests with a small elite segment of society (whether distinguished by wealth, family or military powers). ... Margaret Eleanor Atwood, OC (born November 18, 1939) is a Canadian writer. ... The Handmaids Tale is a dystopian novel by Canadian author Margaret Atwood, first published by McClelland and Stewart in 1985. ...


Even more than religion, family is attacked by dystopian societies. In some societies, it has been completely eradicated, but clearly at great effort, and continuing efforts are deployed to keep it down, as in Brave New World, where children are reproduced artificially, where the concept of a "mother" or "father" is obscene. In others, the institution of the family exists but great efforts are deployed to keep it in service of the state, as in 1984, where children are organized to spy on their parents. In We, the escape of a pregnant woman from the United State is a revolt; the hostility of the state to motherhood is a particularly common trait.[12] For other uses, see Brave New World (disambiguation). ...


The dystopia often must contain human sexuality in order to prevent its disrupting society. The disruption often springs from the social bonds that sexual activity foments rather than sexual activity itself, as when Ayn Rand's Anthem features a hero and heroine whose revolt stems from a wish to form a human connection and express personal love.[13] Therefore, some dystopias are depicted as containing it through encouraging promiscuous sexuality and lack of ideals of romantic love, so that the characters do not impute importance to the activity.[14] In Brave New World, Lenina Crowne confesses to having sexual intercourse with only one man and is encouraged by her friend to be more promiscuous, and in We, "numbers" (people) are allowed sexual intercourse with any other number by registering for access. Alternatively, antisexualism is also prevalent as a way of social control (the Junior Anti-Sex League in 1984), where the state controls so heavily the lives of its citizens that sexual activity is often an act of rebellion.[15] Ayn Rand (IPA: , February 2 [O.S. January 20] 1905 – March 6, 1982), born Alisa Zinovyevna Rosenbaum (Russian: ), was a Russian-born American novelist and philosopher. ... Anthem is a dystopian, science-fiction novella by philosopher Ayn Rand, first published in 1938. ... This article primarily discusses philosophical ideologies in relation to the subject of romantic love. ... Lenina Crowne is one of the main protagonists in Aldous Huxleys novel Brave New World. ... Antisexualism is a term that describes the views of someone who is antagonistic towards sexuality, or a movement against all forms of sexuality. ...


The society frequently isolates the characters from all contact with the natural world. Dystopias are commonly urban,[16] and generally avoid nature, as when walks are regarded as dangerously anti-social in Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451. Anti-social behaviour is that lacking in judgement and consideration for others, ranging from careless negligence to deliberately damaging activity, vandalism and graffiti for example. ... Ray Douglas Bradbury (born August 22, 1920) is an American literary, fantasy, horror, science fiction, and mystery writer best known for The Martian Chronicles, a 1950 book which has been described both as a short story collection and a novel, and his 1953 dystopian novel Fahrenheit 451. ... This article is about the novel. ...


Political

Dystopian politics are often characterized as one or several types of governments and political systems. These systems include, but are not limited to, bureaucracy, capitalism, communism, fascism, chaos, totalitarianism, dictatorships and other forms of political, social and economical control.[17][18] These governments often assert great power over the citizens, dramatically depicted in 1984 as the authority to decree that 2+2 did not need to equal 4.[19] The Politics series Politics Portal This box:      This article is about the sociological concept. ... For other uses, see Capitalism (disambiguation). ... This article is about the form of society and political movement. ... Fascism is an authoritarian political ideology (generally tied to a mass movement) that considers individual and other societal interests subordinate to the interests of the state. ... For other uses, see Chaos (disambiguation). ... Totalitarianism is a term employed by some political scientists, especially those in the field of comparative politics, to describe modern regimes in which the state regulates nearly every aspect of public and private behavior. ... Benito Mussolini and Adolf Hitler were two of the 20th centurys most notorious dictators. ...


In When the Sleeper Wakes, H. G. Wells depicted the governing class as hedonistic and shallow.[20] George Orwell contrasted this to the world of Jack London's The Iron Heel, where the dystopian rulers are brutal and dedicated to the point of fanaticism, which he considered more plausible;[21] this is, indeed, more typical of dystopias in general. The Sleeper Awakes is a dystopian novel by H. G. Wells about a man who sleeps for two hundred and three years, waking up in a completely transformed London, where, because of compound interest on his bank accounts, he has become the richest man in the world. ... Herbert George Wells (September 21, 1866 – August 13, 1946), better known as H. G. Wells, was an English writer best known for such science fiction novels as The Time Machine, The War of the Worlds, The Invisible Man, The First Men in the Moon and The Island of Doctor Moreau. ... Eric Arthur Blair (25 June 1903 [1] [2] – 21 January 1950), better known by the pen name George Orwell, was an English author and journalist. ... For other persons named Jack London, see Jack London (disambiguation). ... The Iron Heel is a novel by American writer Jack London, first published in 1908. ...


Utopian politics are often considered as idealistic in practice towards the society in which they are dictated and enacted.[22] Dystopian politics, however, are considered flawed in some way or have negative connotations amongst the inhabitants of the dystopian “world”. Dystopian politics are portrayed as oppressive. In philosophy, idealism is any theory positing the primacy of spirit, mind, or language over matter. ... For other uses, see Oppression (disambiguation). ...


Dystopias are often filled with pessimistic views of the ruling class or government that is brutal or uncaring ruling with an “iron hand” or “iron fist.” These dystopian government establishments often have protagonists or groups that lead a “resistance” to enact change within their government.[23] Pessimists see the world as uninviting and cruel. ... A resistance movement is a group or collection of individual groups, dedicated to fighting an invader in an occupied country or the government of a sovereign nation through either the use of physical force, or nonviolence. ...


Examples of dystopian politics in literary fiction can be read in Parable of the Sower, 1984, and V for Vendetta. Dystopian politics are portrayed in films such as Fahrenheit 451, Brazil and THX 1138. Literary fiction is a somewhat uneasy term that has come into common usage since around 1970, principally to distinguish serious fiction from the many types of genre fiction and popular fiction. ... Parable of the Sower is the first in a series of science fiction novels written by Octavia Butler and published in 1993. ... This article is about the Orwell novel. ... This article is about the comic book series. ... For other uses, see Fahrenheit 451 (disambiguation). ... Brazil (1985) is a dystopian black comedy feature film directed by Terry Gilliam. ... THX 1138 was George Lucas first full length movie. ...


Economic

The economic structures of dystopian societies in literature and other media have many variations, as the economy often relates directly to the elements that the writer is depicting as the source of the oppression. However, there are several archetypes that such societies tend to follow. Archetype is defined as the first original model of which all other similar persons, objects, or concepts are merely derivative, copied, patterned, or emulated. ...


A commonly occurring theme is that the state is in control of the economy, as shown in such works as Ayn Rand's Anthem and Henry Kuttner's short story "The Iron Standard". Some dystopias, such as 1984, feature black markets with goods that are dangerous and difficult to obtain, or the characters may be totally at the mercy of the state-controlled economy. Such systems usually have a lack of efficiency, as seen in stories like Philip Jose Farmer's Riders of the Purple Wage, featuring a bloated welfare system in which total freedom from responsibility has encouraged an underclass prone to any form of antisocial behavior. Kurt Vonnegut's Player Piano depicts a dystopia in which the centrally controlled economic system has indeed made material abundance plentiful, but deprived the mass of humanity of meaningful labor; virtually all work is menial and unsatisfying, and even very few of the small group that achieves education is admitted to the elite and its work.[24] Ayn Rand (IPA: , February 2 [O.S. January 20] 1905 – March 6, 1982), born Alisa Zinovyevna Rosenbaum (Russian: ), was a Russian-born American novelist and philosopher. ... Henry Kuttner (April 7, 1915 - February 4, 1958) was a science fiction author born in Los Angeles, California. ... It has been suggested that this article or section be merged into underground economy. ... Philip José Farmer (born January 26, 1918) is an American author, principally known for his science fiction and fantasy novels and short stories. ... Riders of the Purple Wage was a science fiction novella by Philip José Farmer. ... Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. ... The player piano is a type of piano that plays music without the need for a human pianist to depress the normal keys or pedals. ...


Even in dystopias where the economic system is not the source of the society's badness, as in Brave New World, the state often controls the economy. In Brave New World, a character, reacting with horror to the suggestion of not being part of the social body, cites as a reason that everyone works for everyone else.[25]


Other works feature extensive privatization. In this context, big businesses often have far more control over the populace than any kind of government, as can be seen in the novel Jennifer Government. This is common in the genre of cyberpunk, such Blade Runner and Snow Crash, which often features corrupt and all-powerful corporations, often in the form of megacorps. This article does not adequately cite its references or sources. ... A group of people forming the total population of a certain place. ... Jennifer Government is a novel written by Max Barry. ... Berlins Sony Center reflects the global reach of a Japanese corporation. ... The novel The Bladerunner (also published as The Blade Runner) is a 1974 science fiction novel by Alan E. Nourse. ... Snow Crash is Neal Stephensons third science fiction novel, published in 1992. ... Megacorp is a term popularized by William Gibson derived from the combination of the prefix mega- with an abbreviation of the word corporation. ...


Characteristics of dystopian fiction

Dystopia is generally considered a subgenre of science fiction. Science fiction is a form of speculative fiction principally dealing with the impact of imagined science and technology, or both, upon society and persons as individuals. ...


The Back story

Because a fictional universe has to be constructed, a selectively-told back story of a war, revolution, uprising, critical overpopulation, or other disaster is often introduced early in the narrative. This results in a shift in emphasis of control, from the good old days to corporations, totalitarian dictatorships or bureaucracies. In narratology, a back-story (also back story or backstory) is the history behind the situation extant at the start of the main story. ... A fictional universe is an imaginary world that serves as the setting or backdrop for one or (more commonly) multiple works of fiction or translatable non-fiction. ... In narratology, a back-story (also back story or backstory) is the history behind the situation extant at the start of the main story. ... Map of countries by population density (See List of countries by population density. ...


Because dystopian literature typically depicts events that take place in the future, it often features technology more advanced than that of contemporary society. Usually, the advanced technology is controlled exclusively by the group in power, while the oppressed population is limited to technology comparable to or more primitive than what we have today.


In order to emphasize the degeneration of society, the standard of living among the lower and middle classes is generally poorer than in contemporary society (in America or a European country, but far superior to any third world country). This is not always the case, however; in Brave New World and Equilibrium, people enjoy much higher material living standards in exchange for the loss of other qualities in their lives, such as independent thought and emotional depth. For other uses, see Brave New World (disambiguation). ... Equilibrium is a 2002 action/science fiction film written and directed by Kurt Wimmer. ...


The Hero

Unlike utopian fiction, which often features an outsider to have the world shown him, dystopias seldom feature an outsider as the protagonist. While such a character would more clearly understand the nature of the society, based on comparison to his society, the knowledge of the outside culture subverts the power of the dystopia. When such outsiders are major characters—such as John the Savage in Brave New World—their societies are not such as can assist them against the dystopia.


The story usually centers on a protagonist who questions the society, often feeling intuitively that something is terribly wrong, such as Winston Smith in 1984, or V from Alan Moore's V for Vendetta. The hero comes to believe that escape or even overturning the social order is possible and decides to act at the risk of life and limb; in some utopias, this may appear as irrational even to him, but he still acts.[26] This article is about the character in Nineteen Eighty-Four. ... This article is about the Orwell novel. ... V is a fictional character from comic book series V for Vendetta, created by Alan Moore and David Lloyd. ... For other persons named Alan Moore, see Alan Moore (disambiguation). ... This article is about the comic book series. ...


A popular archetype of hero in the more modern dystopian literature is the Vonnegut hero, a hero who is in high-standing within the social system, but sees how wrong everything is, and attempts to either change the system or bring it down, such as Paul Proteus of Kurt Vonnegut's novel Player Piano. Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. ... Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. ... For more about the automated musical instrument, see player piano Player Piano is a novel by Kurt Vonnegut, published in 1952, about a near-future society that is almost totally mechanized and automated, eliminating the middle class. ...


The Conflict

In many cases, the hero's conflict brings him to a representative of the dystopia who articulates its principles, from Mustapha Mond in Brave New World to O'Brien in 1984.[27]


There is usually a group of people somewhere in the society who are not under the complete control of the state, and in whom the hero of the novel usually puts his or her hope, although he or she still fails to change anything. In Orwell's 1984 they are the "proles" (Latin for "offspring", from which "proletariat" is derived), in Huxley's Brave New World they are the people on the reservation, and in We by Zamyatin they are the people outside the walls of the One State. In Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury, they are the "book people" past the river and outside the city. The proletariat (from Latin proles, offspring) is a term used to identify a lower social class; a member of such a class is proletarian. ... We (Russian: )[1] is a dystopian novel by Yevgeny Zamyatin completed in 1921. ... Yevgeny Zamyatin Yevgeny Ivanovich Zamyatin (Евге́ний Ива́нович Замя́тин sometimes translated into English as Eugene Zamyatin) (February 1, 1884 – March 10, 1937) was a Russian author, most famous for his novel We, a story of dystopian future which influenced Aldous Huxleys Brave New World, George Orwells Nineteen Eighty-Four and Ayn Rand... This article is about the novel. ... Ray Douglas Bradbury (born August 22, 1920) is an American literary, fantasy, horror, science fiction, and mystery writer best known for The Martian Chronicles, a 1950 book which has been described both as a short story collection and a novel, and his 1953 dystopian novel Fahrenheit 451. ...


Climax and dénouement

The hero's goal is either escape or destruction of the social order. However, the story is often (but not always) unresolved. That is, the narrative may deal with individuals in a dystopian society who are unsatisfied, and may rebel, but ultimately fail to change anything. Sometimes they themselves end up changed to conform to the society's norms. This narrative arc to a sense of hopelessness can be found in such classic dystopian works as 1984. It contrasts with much fiction of the future, in which a hero succeeds in resolving conflicts or otherwise changing things for the better. In literature, a dénouement (IPA: ) consists of a series of events that follow a dramatic or narratives climax, thus serving as the conclusion of the story. ... This article is about the Orwell novel. ... For other uses, see Hero (disambiguation). ...


The destruction of dystopia is frequently a very different sort of work than one in which it is preserved. Poul Anderson's short story "Sam Hall" depicts the subversion of a dystopia heavily dependent on surveillance. Robert A. Heinlein's "If This Goes On—" liberates the United States from a fundamentalist theocracy, where the underground rebellion is organized by the Freemasons. Cordwainer Smith's The Rediscovery of Man series depicts a society recovering from its dystopian period, beginning in "The Dead Lady of Clown Town" with the discovery that its utopia was impossible to maintain. Although these and other societies are typical of dystopias in many ways, they all have not only flaws but exploitable flaws. The ability of the protagonists to subvert the society also subverts the monolithic power typical of a dystopia. In some cases the hero manages to overthrow the dystopia by motivating the (previously apathetic) populace. In the dystopian video game Half-Life 2 the downtrodden citizens of City 17 rally around the figure of Gordon Freeman and overthrow their Combine opressors. Poul William Anderson (November 25, 1926–July 31, 2001) was an American science fiction author of the genres Golden Age. ... Robert Anson Heinlein (July 7, 1907 – May 8, 1988) was one of the most popular, influential, and controversial authors of hard science fiction. ... If This Goes On— is a science fiction short novel by Robert A. Heinlein. ... Cordwainer Smith – pronounced CORDwainer Smith – was the pseudonym used by American author Paul Myron Anthony Linebarger (July 11, 1913 – August 6, 1966) for his science fiction works. ... It has been suggested that Rediscovery of man be merged into this article or section. ... The Dead Lady of Clown Town is a science fiction short story by Cordwainer Smith, set in his Instrumentality of Mankind future history. ... Half-Life 2 (commonly abbreviated to HL2) is a science fiction first-person shooter computer game that is the sequel to Half-Life. ... Gordon Freeman, Ph. ... The Combine is a fictional powerful alien race and empire from Valve Corporations 2004 first-person shooter computer game Half-Life 2. ...


If destruction is not possible, escape may be, if the dystopia does not control the world. In Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451, the main character succeeds in fleeing and finding tramps who have dedicated themselves to memorizing books to preserve them. In the book Logan's Run, the main characters make their way to an escape from the otherwise inevitable euthanasia on their 21st birthday (30th in the later film version). Because such dystopias must necessarily control less of the world than the protagonist can reach, and the protagonist can elude capture, this motif also subverts the dystopia's power. In Lois Lowry's The Giver the main character Jonas is able to run away from 'The Community' and escapes to 'Elsewhere' where people have memories. Ray Douglas Bradbury (born August 22, 1920) is an American literary, fantasy, horror, science fiction, and mystery writer best known for The Martian Chronicles, a 1950 book which has been described both as a short story collection and a novel, and his 1953 dystopian novel Fahrenheit 451. ... This article is about the novel. ... This article is about the 1967 novel and certain adaptations. ... The Giver is a soft science fiction novel written by Lois Lowry and published on April 16, 1993. ...


Sometimes, this escape leads to the inevitable: The protagonist making a mistake that usually brings about the end of a rebel society, usually living where people think is a story. This concept is brought to life in Scott Westerfeld's novel Uglies. The main character accidentally brings the government into the secret settlement of the Smoke. She then infiltrates the government to escape, but chooses to join the society for the greater good. Uglies is the first book in The Uglies Trilogy, written by Scott Westerfeld about a young girl named Tally Youngblood. ...


Occasionally, the escape from dystopia is made possible by time travel and changing history. Marge Piercy's Woman on the Edge of Time, though chiefly concerned with the protagonist's time-travel to a future utopia, also has her travel to a dystopia, and in the current time, stymies the efforts that will lead to that future. Poul Anderson's The Corridors of Time has a protagonist recruited by one future society to fight another, dystopian one; learning that both societies are dystopian (in very different ways), he acts to prevent either one gaining the upper hand in their time-traveling wars, enabling the future emergence of a utopian state. In its time, such a dystopia can be quite as powerful as any other. However, the time travel necessarily moves portions of the story, and usually quite large portions, out of the time of the dystopia, making it less an overwhelming presence in the novel. Finally, the film La Jetée (and, to a lesser degree, the La Jetée-inspired 12 Monkeys) involves the protagonist's travel through time both into the future and the (as of 1962) present-day, in the hope of saving his dystopian present. Time travel is a concept that has long fascinated humanity—whether it is Merlin experiencing time backwards, or religious traditions like Mohammeds trip to Jerusalem and ascent to heaven, returning before a glass knocked over had spilt its contents. ... Marge Piercy (born March 31, 1936) is an American poet, novelist, and social activist. ... Marge Piercys novel Woman on the Edge of Time (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1976) is a utopian fantasy set in a framework that contrasts present-day (1970s) New York City with the village of Mattapoisett in 2137. ... Poul William Anderson (November 25, 1926–July 31, 2001) was an American science fiction author of the genres Golden Age. ... La Jetée (The Jetty) is a 1962 28-minute black and white science fiction film by Chris Marker. ... (Redirected from 12 Monkeys) Twelve Monkeys is a 1995 science fiction conspiracy theory movie directed by former Monty Python member Terry Gilliam and inspired by the short film La Jetée. ...


Resonance

For the reader to engage with it, dystopian fiction typically has one other trait: familiarity. It is not enough to show people living in a society that seems unpleasant. The society must have echoes of today, of the reader's own experience. If the reader can identify the patterns or trends that would lead to the dystopia, it becomes a more involving and effective experience. Authors can use a dystopia effectively to highlight their own concerns about societal trends. For example, Ayn Rand wrote Anthem as a warning against what she saw as the subordination of individual human beings to the state or "the We." Margaret Atwood wrote The Handmaid's Tale as a warning against the rise of what she saw as religious fundamentalism in the United States and the hypocrisy of 1970s feminism actually aiding the cause of their worst enemies. Ayn Rand (IPA: , February 2 [O.S. January 20] 1905 – March 6, 1982), born Alisa Zinovyevna Rosenbaum (Russian: ), was a Russian-born American novelist and philosopher. ... Anthem is a dystopian, science-fiction novella by philosopher Ayn Rand, first published in 1938. ... Margaret Eleanor Atwood, OC (born November 18, 1939) is a Canadian writer. ... The Handmaids Tale is a dystopian novel by Canadian author Margaret Atwood, first published by McClelland and Stewart in 1985. ...


Criticism of the concept of dystopias

Just as some modern philosophers, political theorists, and writers have dismissed ideas of perfect societies or "utopias", many have also expressed skepticism regarding the likelihood of a real-life dystopia of the kind described by Orwell and others. Anthony Burgess however labelled Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four a Cacotopia claiming that 'most visions of the future are cacotopian'. Although there have been many absolutist states in human history, Gregg Easterbrook has argued that such societies tend to rapidly self-destruct or be destroyed by neighbors. Dictatorships and similar regimes tend to be short-lived, as their policies and actions are almost continually leading to the creation of new potential opponents. For example, the killing or "disappearance" of critics and activists only serves to anger their family or friends, who in turn continue the struggle against the regime. However, such a criticism of dystopian literature is dependent upon two key conditions: 1) that the government lacks the ability to firmly quell any uprising, allowing for a substantial resistance to form, and 2) that other countries or states exist which offer a substantially greater standard of living from the dystopia in question. Authors generally address these conditions by establishing a "world government" within the story which does not present the characters with a higher standard of living than the current dystopia, thus quelling the urge to "fight for something better." Furthermore, many dystopian authors apply heavy levels of government propaganda or elements of mind control to their stories, thus eliminating civil unrest. This is evidenced in Orwell's 1984, as well as Huxley's Brave New World. Should this tactic fail, the government is often capable of full military suppression of the masses, making it a formidable adversary (see V for Vendetta). Were these conditions to actually exist, they could conceivably combine to form a real-life dystopia when coupled with issues such as overpopulation, warfare, starvation, and other social issues. The brutal manner in which many modern-day military regimes maintain their power stands as strong evidence of this point. Image File history File links Emblem-important. ... Anthony Burgess (February 25, 1917 – November 22, 1993) was a British novelist, critic and composer. ... This article is about the Orwell novel. ... Gregg Edmund Easterbrook is an American writer who is a senior editor of The New Republic. ... Forms of government Part of the Politics series Politics Portal This box:      A dictatorship is an autocratic form of government in which the government is ruled by a dictator. ... Disappear redirects here. ... This article is about the year. ... For other uses, see Brave New World (disambiguation). ... This article is about the comic book series. ...


Other commentators would say that such a criticism misses the point. For example, Sam Lundwall[28] wrote that dystopian fiction "should be read with a pinch of salt," but that it is "as a means of powerful social criticism, unsurpassed." Sam J Lundwall (b. ... A cultural critic is a critic of a given culture, usually as a whole and typically on a radical basis. ...


Depictions of dystopias in various media

Dystopias are a common theme in many kinds of fiction. The lists linked below contain extensive lists of works with dystopian themes.

. ... This list does not cite any references or sources. ... This is a list of films commonly regarded as dystopian. ... This is a list of depictions of dystopian themes in music, TV programmes and games, including computer games and role-playing games. ...

See also

For other uses, see Utopia (disambiguation). ... Utopian fiction is the creation of an ideal world as the setting for a novel. ... Social science fiction is a term used to describe a subgenre of science fiction concerned less with gadgets and space opera and more with speculation about human society. ... Apocalyptic science fiction is a sub-genre of science fiction that is concerned with the end of civilization, through nuclear war, plague, or some other general disaster. ... Soft science fiction, or soft SF, like its complementary opposite hard science fiction, is a descriptive term that points to the role and nature of the science content in a science fiction story. ... For other uses, see Fable (disambiguation). ... Berlins Sony Center reflects the global reach of a Japanese corporation. ...

References

  1. ^ Cacotopia (κακό, caco = bad) was the term used by Jeremy Bentham in his 19th century works ([1], [2], [3])
  2. ^ Random House's Word of the Day clarifies the technical differences between dystopia and anti-utopia. [4]
  3. ^ Exploring Dystopia, last accessed on 19th March 2006, see also [5]
  4. ^ Oxford English Dictionary
  5. ^ City Life - Future Cities: Utopia or Dystopia. (2007). Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved January 30, 2007, from Encyclopedia Britannica Online: http://www.britannica.com/oscar/article-234546
  6. ^ dystopia. (n.d.). The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. Retrieved January 27, 2007, from Dictionary.com website: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/dystopia
  7. ^ Encyclopedia of Utopian Literature. Mary Ellen Snodgrass. p. xii
  8. ^ science fiction. (2007). Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved February 1, 2007, from Encyclopedia Britannica Online: http://www.britannica.com/eb/article-235726
  9. ^ William Matter, "On Brave New World" p 95, Eric S. Rabkin, Martin H. Greenberg, Joseph D. Olander, No Place Else: Explorations in Utopian and Dystopian Fiction, ISBN 0-8093-1113-5
  10. ^ Jack Zipes, "Mass Degradation of Humanity" p 189, Eric S. Rabkin, Martin H. Greenberg, Joseph D. Olander, No Place Else: Explorations in Utopian and Dystopian Fiction, ISBN 0-8093-1113-5
  11. ^ William Matter, "On Brave New World" p 94, Eric S. Rabkin, Martin H. Greenberg, Joseph D. Olander, No Place Else: Explorations in Utopian and Dystopian Fiction, ISBN 0-8093-1113-5
  12. ^ Gorman Beauchamp, "Zamiatin's We" p 70, Eric S. Rabkin, Martin H. Greenberg, Joseph D. Olander, No Place Else: Explorations in Utopian and Dystopian Fiction, ISBN 0-8093-1113-5
  13. ^ Eric S. Rabkin, "Avatism and Utopia" p 4-5, Eric S. Rabkin, Martin H. Greenberg, Joseph D. Olander, No Place Else: Explorations in Utopian and Dystopian Fiction, ISBN 0-8093-1113-5
  14. ^ Eric S. Rabkin, "Avatism and Utopia" p 5-6, Eric S. Rabkin, Martin H. Greenberg, Joseph D. Olander, No Place Else: Explorations in Utopian and Dystopian Fiction, ISBN 0-8093-1113-5
  15. ^ William Steinhoff, "Utopia Reconsidered: Comments on 1984" p 147 Eric S. Rabkin, Martin H. Greenberg, Joseph D. Olander, No Place Else: Explorations in Utopian and Dystopian Fiction, ISBN 0-8093-1113-5
  16. ^ Eric S. Rabkin, "Avatism and Utopia" p 4, Eric S. Rabkin, Martin H. Greenberg, Joseph D. Olander, No Place Else: Explorations in Utopian and Dystopian Fiction, ISBN 0-8093-1113-5
  17. ^ Moylan, Tom. “ ‘Look into the Dark’: On Dystopia and the Novum”. Learning from New Worlds. Ed. Patrick Parrinder, Durham: Duke University Press, 2001
  18. ^ Kaplan, Carter. “The Advent of Literary Dystopia.” Extrapolation. 40.3 (1999): 200 – 212
  19. ^ William Steinhoff, "Utopia Reconsidered: Comments on 1984" p 147 Eric S. Rabkin, Martin H. Greenberg, Joseph D. Olander, No Place Else: Explorations in Utopian and Dystopian Fiction, ISBN 0-8093-1113-5
  20. ^ William Steinhoff, "Utopia Reconsidered: Comments on 1984" p 153 Eric S. Rabkin, Martin H. Greenberg, Joseph D. Olander, No Place Else: Explorations in Utopian and Dystopian Fiction, ISBN 0-8093-1113-5
  21. ^ William Steinhoff, "Utopia Reconsidered: Comments on 1984" p 147 Eric S. Rabkin, Martin H. Greenberg, Joseph D. Olander, No Place Else: Explorations in Utopian and Dystopian Fiction, ISBN 0-8093-1113-5
  22. ^ "Utopia." The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. Houghton Mifflin Company, 2004. 11 February 2007. <Dictionary.com http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/Utopia>
  23. ^ Donawerth, Jane. “Genre Blending and the Critical Dystopia.” Dark Horizons: Science Fiction and the Dystopian Imagination. Ed. Raffaella Baccolini, Tom Moylan. New York:Routledge, 2003
  24. ^ Howard P. Segal, "Vonnegut's Player Piano: An Ambiguous Technological Dystopia" p 163, Eric S. Rabkin, Martin H. Greenberg, Joseph D. Olander, No Place Else: Explorations in Utopian and Dystopian Fiction, ISBN 0-8093-1113-5
  25. ^ William Matter, "On Brave New World" p 98, Eric S. Rabkin, Martin H. Greenberg, Joseph D. Olander, No Place Else: Explorations in Utopian and Dystopian Fiction, ISBN 0-8093-1113-5
  26. ^ Gorman Beauchamp, "Zamiatin's We" p 62-3, Eric S. Rabkin, Martin H. Greenberg, Joseph D. Olander, No Place Else: Explorations in Utopian and Dystopian Fiction, ISBN 0-8093-1113-5
  27. ^ Gorman Beauchamp, "Zamiatin's We" p 57, Eric S. Rabkin, Martin H. Greenberg, Joseph D. Olander, No Place Else: Explorations in Utopian and Dystopian Fiction, ISBN 0-8093-1113-5
  28. ^ Sam J. Lundwall, Science Fiction: What It's All About, New York: Ace Books, © 1971

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