Thursday, 18 September 2014

Thoughts on dystopia

I’m often asked why I think young people read dystopian fiction. I’ve seen many brilliant answers to the ‘dystopian question’, but the answer that keeps playing on my mind is this: fear.

This is a generation steeped in all breeds of fear – most of all, fear of the future. In real life, the fear we experience is nebulous. It lives in the media and in the backs of our minds. It’s everywhere and nowhere at once. It’s the silent, creeping threat that the promises made by the world might be broken. That it might not be as easy as we thought out there.

In fiction, this fear is given a more tangible form. Fear becomes a monster, a Gamemaker, a morally bankrupt government. Fear incarnate is easier to fight.


Millennials are often seen as a ‘lost’ generation. Within these stories, the lost generation finds itself. It fights. It shouts. It forges its own path. It doesn’t always save the world, but it changes it. In real life, you can’t duel with debt. You can’t bring down the tyranny of unemployment, or overthrow a housing crisis. In real life, you can’t fire an arrow into the heart of fear.

Dystopian fiction allows us to play out scenarios in which we grapple with the vast, faceless issues that we’re often powerless to amend. In real life, we rely upon our elders to solve these problems. In books, the characters decide themselves what the future will look like. I don’t know if that makes it a coping mechanism, or pure escapism – but I do think that’s what gives the genre its staying power. And will for many years to come.

1 comment:

  1. I like the idea of Millenials as a 'lost' generation. This is especially evident, to me, by the fact that most Millenials don't see themselves as or don't identify as a Millenial. I think with the vast and varied means of communication and interaction at our behest generational identities mean less and less. You can tell more by looking at your social media preferences or your tumblr account.

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