Dystopian, What does it Mean?

Dystopian is fast becoming one of the most overused terms in books these days.  Dystopian this, Dystopian that.  It’s almost as bad as the sparkly vampire plague we had a few years ago.

What is Dystopian anyway?

It’s a society that has converted to a totalitarian or has collapsed altogether.  Usually, the hero or heroine is trying to regain their humanity, save family members, or restore reality.

The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi, is an example of dystopia.  Governments have collapsed and been leveled by the Montsanto type companies.  The corporations have destroyed all unauthorized food sources through the spread of genetic viruses.  How does a society cope with that? Well, becoming inhuman towards just about everyone.  This one has adult themes, but he also has written some teen aged appropriate books in the same universe.

What isn’t an example of Dystopian?

Characters that have Wild & Crazy hair styles.  That was the 1980’s.

Dr. Who is not Dystopian.

There are talking animals.  That was the Land of Oz.

Characters that have not bathed in years.  For some reason dystopian societies rarely make or use soap.  Soap is one of the earliest human inventions.  It’s not going anywhere.

Perfect hair.  While they may have soap, I rather doubt that characters will have a warehouse of hair products hundreds of years after society has collapsed.

Functioning supercomputers.  Computers require quite a bit of maintenance and repair.  They will not survive being buried in a mountain of dust and debris for over 2000 years and then reboot when someone excavates them.  I’m looking at Anne McCaffery’s Pern books.  Really?  Really?




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