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  • Writer's pictureCC Robinson

Why Dystopian Writers Bring Up The Worst of Our Past

Updated: Mar 11

If you've read more than a few dystopian fiction books, you may have noticed something. Dystopian fiction writers often bring up the worst actions of our past and let it define their future worlds.

I get it. I did it, too. But that's for a future blog post.

I'd like to delve into the why behind the dystopian genre.

But first, some examples from books available now.

Red Rising by Pierce Brown centers on Darrow, a "Red" who transforms through the miracles of future modern medicine into a supernatural Gold, to dismantle an unjust cast system. The Reds are the impoverished, enslaved under-class mining the depths of Mars so that the upper classes, the "Golds" can live comfortable lives. The Gold class restricts the Red class's movements, access to the truth, economic resources, and ability to make their own decisions as a community.

Primitives by Eric Krauss, while set on the Earth, is positively other-worldly. The "primitives" are people who survived a deadly plague only for their minds to devolve into that of an animal, to the point of cannibalism and Neanderthal language and skill sets. A select few of the infected either had natural immunity or had taken a secret vaccine developed by the madman who released the plague. Seth and Sarah unravel the truth of the situation and discover they can heal the minds of the primitives. Of course, they have to battle the madman who set the Earth's cleansing into motion to accomplish their goal.

The Seclusion by Jacqui Castle features ruthless dictators, high walls separating the "privileged" with the outsiders, control over movement and a program to exterminate those who think creatively. Of course, all of this governmental badness resulted from rising sea levels, dwindling natural resources, and rampant pollution.

The common thread through all dystopian novels is evil taken to its logical conclusion.

It's classism in Red Rising. In Primitives, it's privilege and possibly a commentary on scientific advances outside of ethical constraints. Castle's primary target in Seclusion is government corruption and our poor treatment of the Earth.

Obviously, none of these authors, or other dystopian writers, want our worlds to remain as they are on page one. The hope of the dystopian genre is in societal change, in how ordinary men and women take on the evil in their world, and in the story of life transformation of our heroes and heroines.

The fun is in the story's journey and explains why dystopian is a popular genre.

But dystopian isn't only fun and games. These authors see something alarming in our current world and issue a warning for us through their stories.

If we don't apply the lessons which our favorite characters learn, we could end up in their same "page one" place.

We keep making the same mistakes, despite loathing certain events from our history.

And that is why authors continue to write dystopian literature.

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