dystopian

All posts tagged dystopian

Tomorrow I am presenting my Academic Conference Paper, where I am going to introduce my class to my research paper. Watch the following video Vlog to get an insight into what I am going to be talking tomorrow! Get excited and ready to LiveTweet my Presentation.

Please feel free to comment any thoughts and suggestions for my research paper. You can even Tweet about it under #1102dystopia and @agg31guerrero so I can read all of your reactions!

After reading a few dystopian novels, I noticed the obvious and prominent presence of technology. Technology is a powerful tool which can be used in many ways. In the cases of these novels, it’s used usually for panoptical surveillance (such as in After) or for counterattacking such surveillance (such as in Little Brother). I wanted to look more into this recurring theme and study its role in dystopian societies throughout time. This involves looking at imagined technology from the past, present technology, possible desecration of present technology, and future possible technology. Looking through different ages and examining the existing an imagined technology available helps us extrapolate future. That’s one purpose of dystopian novels; to help us work towards a better present in the future.

One of my favorite authors is Ray Bradbury, because of his imagination for beautiful [and sometimes terrifying] machines. One of his most well-known novels is Fahrenheit 451, published in 1953. During that post-war period, simple technology like TV, radio, and telephones existed. Though simple compared to today’s technology, the people imagined aliens feared nuclear powered devices. In 451, Bradbury imagined air propelled trains (monorails), seashell radio (music players), the green bullet (earpieces), and the mechanical hound (land drones). His views were that in the future, technology would be powerful enough to make our life so easy and lazy, but also powerful enough to dictate us.

Other dystopian novels that are set in the present also show how current technology can be used for surveillance purposes. For example in Francine Prose’s After, metal detectors, urine tests, email, cameras, and prisons were not new technology, however they were implemented in a new environment: a school. The novel showed an example of how present technology can easily be configured together to create a dystopian environment.

The contrast also exists. In Little Brother by Cory Doctorow, the Department of Homeland Security turns existing infrastructure into a tool to track all the citizens in San Francisco. RFID chips in books, FasTrak Cards, toll passes, computer bugs, internet monitors, and security cameras are turned into eyes for panoptical security. The one twist to this is that Marcus also uses technology to deter surveillance.

Though not necessarily implemented everywhere or to its full potential, our current technology is perfect infrastructure for panoptical security. I’m interested in studying the developement of technology and its uses. This involves looking at old dreams, present realities, present nightmares, and future possibilities.

 

Works Cited
Doctorow, Cory. Little Brother. Stuttgart, Klett Sprachen, 2016.
“Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury: Science Fiction Inventions, Technology and Ideas.” Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury: Science Fiction Inventions, Technology and Ideas, Technovelgy LLC, www.technovelgy.com/ct/AuthorSpecAlphaList.asp?BkNum=112. Accessed 19 Feb. 2017.
Prose, Francine. After. New York, HarperCollins, 2004.

The genre of dystopia plays such a dominant role in the development of our culture, even in the modern day, that it seems necessary to craft a definition for the term. The difficulty with confining such a broad, complex style of literature into a single description is there will always be significant details left out. How could someone define something that is constantly adapting to the atmosphere of society, consistently referenced, and continuously ever-present?

 

Gregory Claeys claims that dystopia as a genre “refers to imaginary places that were worse than real places” and goes on to say the concept is the “dark side” of the Utopian concept. While I fundamentally agree with his analysis, I have to think there is more to dystopian themes than simply portraying a universe completely opposite of society’s utopia. In my opinion, a dystopian literature is one that reveals the flaws of our society to such an extreme that it engulfs the written reality and twists it into the worst possible outcome for humanity. The commonalities in such stories, such as a Great War or a vast abandoned colony, come together to represent this epic doom hanging over our heads that could consume our future if the warnings from the story are not heeded.

Like many other genres, dystopian themes can be combined with other categories of literature such as science fiction or fantasy. When considering such styles paired together I do not see the meaning of dystopia changing; I believe the best elements of each genre come together to adapt the broad definition into a more cultivated mixture of ideals. Science fiction brings about technological innovation and new ways of thinking in the devastated, previously hopeless environment of a dystopia. Fantasy gives way to epic battles and unearthed magic that, when used correctly, can highlight the desolate dystopian themes.  Combining genres does not completely change the definition of a dystopia, it simply adjusts it to better fit the role it is made to fill.

When young adult themes are used to direct a dystopia, some slight changes in the genre can be seen. The authors, aiming to reach a wide range of ages from middle school to college, will create a broader story that could be applicable to many readers. The lessons they attempt to teach and the critiques they wish to be heard will be pushed slightly harder at the reader in order to ensure everyone receives some message from the book. The main characters in young adult dystopias typically mirror the projected audience in age, thought process, and interests. Overall, when an author aims to write a young adult dystopia the overall themes common in the genre remain with only slight changes to the style of writing.

Works Cited:

Claeys, Gregory. “The origins of dystopia: Wells, Huxley, and Orwell.” The Cambridge
Companion to Utopian Literature.
Cambridge University Press, 2010.