Friday, August 15, 2014

On Dystopias

Michael Solana had an interesting piece on Wired yesterday: Stop writing dystopias.  Interesting, as in not great or cute, or even shabby or dumb.  It made me think . . . and I think the essay should be marked incomplete.

Frankenstein, or The Modern Prometheus, by Mary Shelly is considered by many (most?) to be the start of the science fiction novel.  It is not a sunny work of unbridled optimism.  Science fiction has always played with our hopes for the future AND our fears.  There is no turning point - there is a pendulum.  I love reading review of my book, The Milkman, which takes place in a world with no governments.  Some people see it as a dystopia, others just the opposite.  It's fascinating and really muddies the argument - There is no general agreement on what a fine world even looks like.

Solana goes on to claim a fear of technology that grows from dour fiction, the evidence for which escapes me.  I see people more in love with gizmos than ever.  They want to strap it to their freakin' bodies, they love it so much.  Cars with radar.  Printers that can order their own ink.  A phone that reminds you to check your insulin.  This stuff is not just cool, but useful.

Dystopias are warning signs.  Don't go this way.  Or, if you do, use caution.  In end, a proper waring breeds respect.  Modern technology is right to ask for that.

1 comment:

  1. I love dystopias! I think it's so cool that an author can create an entire world in 530 pages!