In Defense of Science Fiction: Utopias as Dystopias

This is more something that’s fallen out of favor as opposed to something that people argue scientifically against.

A utopia, by definition, is a perfect society – everyone is happy, cared for, and no one wants for anything.

Dystopias are big right now. (A dystopia is a flawed society, often totalitarian in nature.) Straight dystopias, where it’s obvious that things are wrong. But there’s something about a utopia, because, it turns out, it doesn’t exist.

Utopias thrive on order – there’s no real room for creativity or innovation. Society stagnates. People aren’t given the opportunity to grow. The cogs can only turn in one way to maintain that illusion of perfection.

Utopias (and dystopias) explore society as opposed to technology. They explore questions like – if the people are happy and don’t know any better, is it wrong to leave them in an oppressive environment? What can – and should – be sacrificed for peace?

In this day and age, you’d think that utopian dystopias would be more popular than ever. But instead, we seem to be going for the obvious. Often, in dystopias, the main characters are obviously part of some marginalized part of society. In the Hunger Games, District 12 barely has enough to eat. In Incarceron, the very environment is out to get those who live in it. In City of Ember, the city is falling apart around their heads.

They’re the results of nuclear war, contagion, biological fallout.

Nothing against straight dystopias, but there’s an added level of complexity in utopian dystopias. They look at how we could try to fix things, and how things could seem to be great for a while, but how there’s seemingly no way to actually create a perfect society without destroying something that’s inherently human.

The only I can think of that I’ve read lately is Margaret Atwood’s The Year of the Flood, which is a sequel/companion novel to the more applicable Oryx and Crake. I can think of several straight dystopias. Anyone read any other utopian dystopias lately?

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: