While everyone else is cheerfully talking about love and Valentine's Day, I'm going to be depressing you all month with stories about oppressive societies, destroyed worlds and desperate people in terrible situations. ;) Still with me? Great! You must either be a fellow dystopian fiction fan, dy-curious, or suicidal. Welcome!
I've definitely noticed an upswing in interest in this science fiction sub-genre and many interesting titles have recently been released or are on their way. So what attracts readers to dystopian and apocalyptic fiction? Is it because it shows us that "there is always light in the dark" as My Friend Amy so eloquently argues? It is because we are curious about how bad things could get if we don't stop screwing up now like Chris of Book-a-Rama? Are we in it for the thrill, because stories of survival (or attempted survival) against all odds are inherently interesting?
And what do we classify as dystopian fiction anyway? Does the society have to be have been "aiming at utopia and missed" as Joni Sensel suggests? That's a narrower definition than I have. For the purpose of my personal list, I count as dystopian any future society that values the stasis of said society over certain individual human rights that we currently hold to be self-evident. Or as I propose in my article "What if?" (also interesting for my comparison of adult and YA dystopias) it's a dystopia if the author is asking “what if society was really, really frakked up?”
Oh and it doesn't have to be a society full of misery. In fact, depending on your point on view, it could look pretty utopian (see my article "Who's Dystopia is it Anyway?").
Since post-apocalyptic fiction is pretty closely related, except that usually there is a complete breakdown of society due to some cataclysmic event, I include it on my lists of dystopian fiction - because let's face it - there's nothing utopian about that (unless you are a libertarian, perhaps).
Looking for some recommendations to get you started or to further your addiction?
Here's my index of dystopian reviews that will be kept updated
A great list of select YA dystopias (with pictures of covers!) over at Bart's Bookshelf
Jen Robinson's more inclusive list of Futuristic, Speculative, Science Fiction and Dystopian Fiction for Young Adults
List of dystopias by type at The Book Smugglers
Rhiannon Hart's personal dystopia challenge with links to her reviews
Half a century of YA dystopias list
The Last Blog in the Universe group blog with articles and reviews
The Spectacle group author blog about speculative fiction
Stay tuned! I have lots of reviews, interviews, guest blogs, book previews, series overviews, and contests coming up this month, and even Emmy and Finn are getting in on the action...as you'll see tomorrow!
PS: Why not join the Dystopia Reading Challenge over at Parajunkee's blog? And then read with me :)
Reviews coming up this week:
Shades of Grey by Jasper Fforde
The Unit by Ninni Holmqvist
The Maze Runner by James Dashner