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Writing Dystopia

by Robison Wells

Rob Wells

on 12 November 2011

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Transcript of Writing Dystopia

Dystopia History &
Definitions Utopia Counter-Utopia Apocalypse/
Post Apocalypse "no place" (originally) or "good place" (newer definition)

Thomas More's UTOPIA

The Garden of Eden
Plato's Atlantis (TRITEUS and CRIMAEUS)

Mostly written as social satire or political commentary Introduction of dystopia:

Everyone's Utopia is Someone Else's Dystopia All utopian fiction to this point had only discussed the benefits, not the problems, but the problems existed: Plato's REPUBLIC: Women and children are property
Samuel Butler's EREHWON: Children are euthanised if they don't meet certain standards
Tomaso Campanella's CITY IN THE SUN: Utopia is found through eugenics. Rob's Definition of Dystopia (Counter Utopia):
A Utopian Society With a Fatal Flaw What's this doing here??? Some definitions (which are perfectly valid, but which Rob does not share) define dystopia very broadly and literally: "bad place" Counter Utopia Or, as Rob defines it: True Dystopia Common Elements The society/social structure plays an enormous role in the story
Strong elements of contol/lack of certain freedoms
Restricted information
Citizens/characters are dehumanized to some extent
Antagonism to nature and natural world
Conformity. Individuality and dissension are bad/immoral/illegal
There is the illusion of a perfect world

The Dystopian Hero Feels trapped
Recognizes problems in society, but feels isolated
Often discovers secrets or restricted information
Helps the reader understand the problems with the society
Almost never an outsider
Willing to take huge risks
Often more ideological than practical
Sometimes trying to take down society, but sometimes just wants to escape

Resolution? Is there a happy ending?

Commentary Many dystopians represent a current social problem extrapolated to the extremes: UGLIES: Body Image, Self-Worth
THE HUNGER GAMES: Propaganda, Voyeurism
MATCHED: Genetic Testing, Psychoanalysis
ATLAS SHRUGGED: Suppression of Innovation and Success
FAHRENHEIT 451: Censorship
1984: Surveillance, Manipulation of Information
BRAVE NEW WORLD: Consumerism, Media Culture

Post Apocalypse Apocalypse Post-Apocalypse Natural disasters
Nuclear Holocaust
Failure of technology
Alien invasion
Very broad, lots of options;
Can lead to "true" dystopia
Cozy catastrophe
Highly technological (The Matrix)
Very low technology (Mad Max) Generally, apocalyptic fiction is either action/adventure or survival Warning: I'm going to spoil the crap out of a lot of books. Mostly classics that you should be familiar with, though.
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