April 18, 2011
Dystopia Vs. Utopia Vs. Somewhere In-between
Jetse De Vries had a post on Tor.com entitled The Dystopia/Utopia Dichotomy where he talks about Utopias and Dystopias and why writers seem to be writing more Dystopias and less Utopias and hardly anything that suggests a path towards Utopia…
This persistent either/or thinking (if a society in [genre] fiction is not a dystopia, then by default it must be a utopia) is what I call the dystopia/utopia dichotomy: divide the worldviews up in two easy-to-catagorise camps so that you can ignore the actual complexities of real societies. It also seems to work wonderfully well in avoiding to (try to) think of solutions, or even provide examples of solution-based thinking: it’s fine to wallow, extremely deeply in the horrible problems, but when it’s time to face up to them, we log out.
I think the answer is that it is hard to write near future utopias that suggest solutions to current problems, hence the scarcity.
It could be argued though, I suppose, that a novel like The Dervish House is somewhere in-between: it’s near future and shows a future in Turkey in which many things are better. Maybe our near future utopias are just a little too light on the utopian-ness to be recognised as such?