A few weeks back, I watched Equilibrium, set in a futuristic world where everyone is forced to revoke their emotions along with any form of self-expression in exchange for a war-less world. Except anyone who is found with sentimental objects or even pets is shot on sight. Believable, right? This weekend I caught a glimpse of Franklyn, in which everyone must have a religion, even if it’s a made-up one. Also very feasible. Stop me if you can’t catch my sarcasm yet. Then there are also, of course, stories like Hunger Games where children are forced to fight each other to the death, similar to Battle Royale, in which classmates slaughter each other in a bloody brawl. Or Divergent, in which society splits into a bunch of factions and you must choose one and stick to it for the rest of your life.
Of course dystopian stories aren’t realistic, we get that. Otherwise, they would be stories about our own society, which is dystopian in its own sense,
just not to the degree of absurdity.
The biggest question dystopian stories try to answer is: well, what if this happened? We’re not saying it can, but just imagine for a second that the world somehow did get effed up in this direction. I believe a dystopian story can be made believable, if it answers a few simple questions:
1) How did it turn into the state it’s currently in? What’s the history?
2) Is the rest of the world like this? If not, is there any way for the characters to find out or escape?
3) Why hasn’t anyone tried to change it? And if they have, why have they failed?
We all know human beings are capable of horrid things, but if a story takes them to extremes, it should be backed up with some form of logic, no matter how demented.
Do you think there’s a limit to “dystopia”?
-The Story Addict
This week I’ve got some books to share as part of the special indie feature that have some superb dystopian premises: