Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Dystopian Fiction Overload? (or Reality Bites but That's What Life Is*)

*with apologies to Limp Bizkit

Tip of the Day: My library won the area's Library of the Year award! Click here for details! Thanks to everyone who nominated Brighton Memorial Library. You rock!

I just read a YA book where:
--the main character is under house arrest on and off over her life
--phone lines are government controlled, only available intermittently, and rarely available for international calls
--the internet is highly monitored and all modems must be registered with the government
--outsiders are often forbidden from entering the country, and citizens are often not allowed out
--those who sneak information about the country/government outside the borders and are caught are subjected to imprisonment, physical torture, and death
--those participating in peaceful protests against the government are subjected to imprisonment, physical torture, and death
--disease runs rampant
--citizens are poor and powerless to overcome their situations
--the government spends millions on its lavish capital while the citizens starve in the other cities
--elections are rigged

Is this the latest dystopian novel on the shelves at B&N?

Nope. It's not even fiction. It's the story of Burma in the 1980s-present as presented in CHAMPIONS OF FREEDOM: AUNG SAN SUU KYI by Sherry O'Keefe (Morgan Reynolds, 2012).

I read this book to review it for VOYA, knowing nothing about Suu Kyi or Burma when I picked it up. I reached the end where the author compared Suu Kyi's world to that of George Orwell's 1984, I thought, holy crap. This horrific reality IS real for so many people across the globe.

So the next time you want to write about a government-controlled world but you keep hearing that dystopian fiction is overdone (I'm definitely reaching "full" on my library shelves), pick a country where this issue is a reality. Write about the real world -- even if we wish it was not so. I would totally read and buy those books.

Will I write them? I was very inspired by Suu Kyi's story, but would need to do a ton more research about a country that I just touched upon. Perhaps some day. Until then, I want to read more. Get writing! :)

Deena, Miss Subbing for Pubbing


Kate Fall said...

Wow, I hope you get to buy that book for your library. I want to read it now!

Mirka Breen said...

I think the attraction of dystopian fiction, going all the way to ‘1984,’ (published in 1948) is the sense that it is real already in places, could be real where we are, and hence is not 'fantasy.'
You hit the nail on the head with this thoughtful post.

Jennifer R. Hubbard said...

Congratulations on the library award!

I've heard it said that all dystopian is really about our own world--what it has become without our noticing, or what it could be if we keep following certain paths.

Bonnee Crawford said...

Dystopian fiction is given a whole new meaning when you can get dystopian non-fiction too... it's scary, but it just goes to show how real a dystopia can become in the real world. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this.

DeenaML said...

Kate -- VOYA "pays" me in the copies of the books I read, so the Suu Kyi should be on my shelf soon!

Mirka -- thanks! It was really eye-opening for me, even though it seems obvious.

Jennifer -- thanks for the congrats! And that is interesting -- dystopia is "what it could be if we keep following certain paths." I also ironically just finished reading Marc Aronson's YA NF on J. Edgar Hoover. SHEESH! Talk about m more gov't meddling throughout the decades!

Bonnee -- you're right, maybe that is why dystopian is so popular now; it gives us a contect to see our real world in.