Now, I might catch a lot of flack for my opinions, I don’t know. This list is based off what I’ve observed as a reader of dystopian fiction. I am sure all the lit. professors and other authors much more educated than I am could tear me to shreds and show me all the ways there are five other more important must haves that should have been on this list. So if you are a looking for a definitive list, the one that you can use for your research paper, maybe don’t use this one because these are my opinions, for what it’s worth.
#1 MUST HAVE IN A DYSTOPIAN FICTION: An inorganic future society.
In an inorganic society we have a government that forces society to fit a mold that the powers that be believe will create a utopia. Unfortunately, rather than creating a utopia, a dystopia is what results, because of the perversion of man’s self-autonomy. It’s necessarily not organic or natural but artificial and enforced from above because there is no way that anyone would volunteer to live under a dystopia.
In The Ogress’ Son, the government decided all technology had to be controlled in order to prevent another nuclear event like the one that had destroyed the world. In theory, government limiting technology is not a bad idea. I personally don’t think regulation of technology is an evil (I mean, I’m not going to say I could see a Terminator scenario coming to fruition, but, uh, yeah, it could happen.)
The problem is how do you regulate it? How do you ensure that no one will abuse that control and use it for his own ends? If we suppose a benevolent monarch, it could be great. That’s what I envisioned for Perhe, my imagined country somewhere at the North pole (that was no longer cold because the poles had shifted). Before Petel rose to power, technology was regulated, but not despotically controlled. It wasn’t wielded as a weapon to force the populace to bend to the king’s will, like it is under Petel.
One could argue that having a democracy would prevent anything like that from happening, but I’m not convinced. I think it’s a matter of anything that attempts to force society into neat little boxes that we don’t naturally acclimate toward and choose ourselves, will necessarily result in a dystopia. In a lot of ways, I believe we are currently living in a dystopia, but since this isn’t a political blog, I’m going to stow the discussion of exactly what ways that dystopia is playing out.
As this idea pertains to Perhe, humans have a creative spirit. We seek. We craft. We tinker. We create. As a Catholic, I attribute this to our being made in the image and likeness of God. Our soul yearns for Him, it’s why we were created, and so we want to be like Him, to seek after the good. And one of those goods is the ability to create.
If a government were to try and cripple that spirit, control it, manipulate it, siphon it, and use it purely for its own ends, it would be like doing a lobotomy on society. In Perhe, intelligent young students are removed and taken away every year. Illegal tinkering and inventing is a felony, one of the few that will result in an arrest when even murder will not.
The smart kids are trained in the capital and are owned by the king. Sometimes they are leased out to wealthy people for an exorbitant fee. Thus, only in the capital, with the wealthy, or in the military, are there the things that we commonly take for granted, and they only have these things in a rudimentary fashion: plumbing and toiletry, tall buildings, bridges, machines, equipment, and weapons.
Could this sort of society ever happen? It’s hard to imagine us ever standing idly by and letting it happen. But in a post-apocalyptic scenario, where everyone is so focused on just getting all the kids their next meal, their next drink of water, living through the night and seeing the next day, I could see it. We would make whatever concessions were necessary in order to maintain a status quo of at least enough food, water, and shelter to sustain life.
My favorite dystopian novels are Brave New World and A Clockwork Orange. What about you? Comment below, I’d love to chat about it.
This post is part 3 in the series The 5 ‘ Must Haves’ in a Dystopian Novel. If you haven’t read the other 2, they can be found HERE (Part 1) and HERE (Part 2). Next week I’ll tackle the second ‘Must Have’ in Dystopian fiction, so stick around!
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