February 28, 2016

Slice of PIE: Dystopias – BLECH!

http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51Sg4W-0zmL._SX344_BO1,204,203,200_.jpgUsing the panel discussions of the most recent World Science Fiction Convention in Spokane, August 2015, I will jump off, jump on, rail against, and shamelessly agree with the BRIEF DESCRIPTION given in the pdf copy of the Program Guide. This is event #3486. The link is provided below… 

“Dystopian Realities: What if Fiction’s Most Dire Prophesies Come True?” The bullying of humans by “helpful” digital devices (Leiber), government-mandated pregnancy (Atwood), intrusive advertising (Pohl), robot uprisings (Wilson) and other such “if this goes on” prophecies now part of our everyday lives make it seem as if sf is better at predicting dark futures than bright ones (e.g. interstellar travel, colonies on other planets). In comparison, many of science fiction’s positive fortellings—waterbeds (Heinlein), tablet computers (Clarke), wireless phones (“Get Smart”)—seem pretty small potatoes. Is that why SF has become increasingly grim? Or are dystopias more fetish than useful? Gillian Redfearn (m), William Dietz, Tananarive Due, Jessica Rising, Daniel Spector

I’ve ranted about how much I hate “dystopias” (http://www.sfwa.org/2012/07/guest-post-when-did-science-fiction-and-apocalypse-become-interchangeable/); I’ve written a novel that is NOT about a dystopia – though not about a “utopia”, either (http://www.amazon.com/Heirs-Shattered-Spheres-Emerald-Earth-ebook/dp/B012TOGF62/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8); and while some of my futures may be dark, they would fall into line with the futures of David Brin (http://www.amazon.com/Startide-Rising-Uplift-Saga-Book/dp/B0073FYDEY/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=), and Julie Czerneda (http://www.amazon.com/Survival-Imperative-Julie-E-Czerneda/dp/0756402611/ref=sr_1_10?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1456663031&sr=1-10&keywords=julie+czerneda). These futures are certainly dangerous, but contain in themselves real hope for our future as an intelligent civilization.

It should probably be clear then that I believe that dystopian stories are a fad that (like sideburns and superballs) wax and wane.

Aldous Huxley, George Orwell, Philip K. Dick, and ’s books were hardly the only dystopian literature written, in which the present (or the alternate future) has passed their visions by. Almost certainly there were dystopian excursions that have faded (mostly) from memory, like Michael Bishop’s A LITTLE KNOWLEDGE (https://sciencefictionruminations.wordpress.com/2014/05/02/guest-post-a-little-knowledge-michael-bishop-1977/) or Maggie Gee’s THE ICE PEOPLE – though hers may have disappeared because it doesn’t fit the current climate change scenario (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Ice_People). Any number of other novels readers of dystopian fiction have forgotten (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_dystopian_literature#2000s) may pop up on this list, yet I would venture to guess that there are at least as many that have fallen by the wayside and will never see the light of a reader’s eye again.

I think I’ve made MY point: dystopian novels are a fad that comes and goes depending on how the political, religious, scientific, ethical, or literal climate shifts.

What do you think?

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