This week, one of the foxes asked about our favorite dystopian world. I’ll confess I had to look up the term, because I wasn’t quite sure what dystopian meant. Oxforddictionaries.com defines dystopia as “an imagined place or state in which everything is unpleasant or bad, typically a totalitarian or environmentally degraded one.” In other words, not the kind of stuff I normally read or write. But I have been exposed to a few.
In high school, my English class read 1984, by George Orwell. I didn’t particularly enjoy that book, especially since I figured I’d probably still be alive by that year and it scared me to think that my world might become like Oceania.
In the 1970s there was a string of disaster movies like The Poseidon Adventure, The Towering Inferno, Airport, and Earthquake among others, but I don’t imagine those count. The only one I watched that might qualify was one called Logan’s Run, which dealt with a domed world in which people weren’t allowed to live past their 30th birthday and all procreation was done in a laboratory. I watched that when I was in college and didn’t particularly enjoy it. I’ve often wondered how the characters, who broke out of their dome at the end, managed to survive and get by in the outside world.
I have absolutely no interest in watching shows like The Walking Dead or The Maze Runner, although I was thrilled when one of my granddaughters who struggled with reading told me she enjoyed reading the Maze Runner books. I gladly bought the rest of the series for her. I figured if it was interesting enough to motivate her to read, it was worth the investment. But I didn’t read it myself. As for The Walking Dead, why on earth would I watch something like that every week when I already have a difficult time getting to sleep at night? I guess I just never understood the fascination with a possible zombie apocalypse. Avatar is another popular movie that I never made time to see, though the premise was intriguing. If I were paralyzed like Jake, would I choose to enter a world like Pandora so that I could be mobile again? I’m not sure.
Using the definition above, I would argue that stories like the movies Annie and Oliver, as well as the comic strip and novel they’re based on, depict dystopianesque (did I just make up a word?) worlds – at least for the main characters at the beginning of the stories. But the difference between these and true dystopian stories, aside from the fact New York and London are real places, is that for both Annie and Oliver there is a happy ending. And that makes those stories palatable to me. I can handle living (through the characters, of course) in a dystopian world as long as there’s a way to escape into a better one. I guess that’s why I write romance.
Do you enjoy reading about dystopian worlds? If so, which ones do you like?