In fiction, dystopias come in lots of shades.
There’s the oppressive gloom of social and governmental dystopias like V for Vendetta and Minority Report. The bleakness of ecological and environmentally skewed stories in the vein of Waterworld and Soylent Green. The menacing darkness of tech-induced hells such as The Matrix and The Terminator.
Mega-corporations. The post-apocalypse. Zombies.
But as varied (and as good) as these are, their premises are just dismal points plotted along the same grayscale continuum. The despair is widespread, the oppression equal opportunity.
How do you like your steak? Charred, burned, or just overcooked?
|Many dystopic settings are points along the same grayscale contiuum.|
Or if not - even if life never strays from beneath the dome of a city - at least the people are happy.
That’s because these dystopias are only selectively oppressive. To all but an unlucky few, the world is actually easy street, and the bacon is plentiful.
Novelist Toni Morrison said:
"All paradises, all utopias are designed by who is not there, by the people who are not allowed in."
One person’s utopia is another’s dystopia. And in worlds like this, the discrimination makes the outlook even MORE bleak for the have-nots – those on the outside looking in. Misery loves company. But when you’re the only one running from the Sandman while all your friends are partying at a drunken orgy (as in Logan's Run), things tend to suck just that much more.
|The world of Logan's Run. A great place to live...until it isn't.|
|The up side of Dystopia.|
Even when you do have Jenny Agutter along for the ride.
That’s why I find the horror of a world like the one in Logan’s Run, or the real-life antebellum south more disturbing, more compelling than the more monochromatic premises so common in dystopic fiction. So add some smiles to your dystopic story. Maybe even throw in a tree or two. It makes the bleakness and despair that much more complete.