A sub-genre of science fiction depicting post-apocalyptic societies characterized by oppression, misery, squalor, disease, and / or overcrowding and often highlighting concerns about current societal trends. An imaginary place where everything is as bad as it can be.

When I told a friend that I write Dystopia, I got a blank stare. “What’s that?”

I gave her the above definition.

She said, “Why would anyone want to read that?”

I had to think about it. Why do I read Dystopia? How is it different from science fiction?

Hard science fiction can tend to focus on describing how things work, while Dystopia is more about society. Don’t get me wrong – I love to take scientific theories and expand them, creating a future full of “what ifs;” eternal life, photosynthetic skin, solar powered cars. But even more, I love creating new cultures, new landscape, even new species within that landscape.

Still, that’s not what drives me to write Dystopia. What is society without people?

Dystopic characters start out as ordinary people, oppressed by the world they live in. People like you and me facing enormous odds. Then they find an inner strength they didn’t know they had.

And they use it to change the world.

So I have my answer.

“When things can’t get any worse, heroes are born.”

What’s the last book you read where the characters changed the entire world?

Cross posted on romancingthegenres.blogspot.com
© Tam Linsey, 2011. All rights reserved.

One thought on “dys·to·pi·a

  1. ArcaneRhino

    While I am not yet convinced that I like Dystopia as a genre (I prefer following politics to get my daily dose of depression), I do like dystopic elements in my fiction. Seeing the “gritty underside”, or the impact of unintended consequences, makes a story much more interesting to me.

    Maybe it is just prurient voyeurism into the dark underside of humanity.


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