Friday, August 16, 2013

Dystopian Reads...

Dystopian Reads --

Hi, Tina here. God the master creator, made our world to have balance and flow. Stitched together like a lovely quilt. Unfortunately, the lines were marred along the way. And the plan was marred, he gave his son to redeem it.

Since I'm feeling so all together. (:-) I thought we should take a peek at life in the dysfunctional world. Or maybe I have that backwards.


We've all heard of Utopia. Where the world is ideally perfect in everyway. Everyone is Happy. There are no wars. No one gets sick. Birds are singing. Mosquitoes don't bite and if they do it doesn't itch. Even the temperature is at a perfect 75 with light wind and slight humidity. There is unity. Life is good.

Yep, it sounds so good, it's almost boring.

For every wonderful place there is the opposite side of the coin.

Dystopia would be considered the opposite of the ideal utopian world and several stories of Dystopia  have garnered a huge following of late. So I thought we might take a closer look.

1. An imaginary place or state in which the condition of life is extremely bad,
as from deprivation, oppression, or terror.

Dystopian reads are simply stories that take the reader to dystopia. To a world where there is a breakup of society, perhaps chaos and all the above.

The wildly popular Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins, gives you a view of dystopian society. In this brave new world, there are twelve districts. Some do better than others. And the ruling district seems to be the richest. Those in the lower districts don't have the benefit of moving from one district to another to better themselves. It's against the law.

But once a year, two people from each district or chosen for the honor of playing in the Hunger Games where they can win supplies for their district and notoriety for themselves. But the Hunger Games are a battle to the death and to win they have to be the last contestant standing.

I can see myself as Katniss Everdeen, wielding my bow and arrow, climbing trees, dodging fireballs and contestants from other districts. Okay maybe not, in all truth, I'd probably die in the first 10 seconds of the games, but I'd like to think I could win. I want to see Kat win and overcome all the hardships put against her. Sadly, I would like to see others win as well, but only one can. Maybe that's what's draw?

In another popular Dytopian Read, the Divergent Trilogy; Divergent, Insurgent, (and I'm waiting for the third) the author Veronica Roth fashions a society that centers around a futuristic Chicago. This society is divided into five factions, and these factions are not dictated by your wealth or your job have, but by five virtues of humanity;

Abnegation (the selfless), Amity (the peaceful), Candor (the honest), Dauntless (the brave) and Erudite (the intelligent).

Children remain in their birth societies, but on a given day each year, 16 year olds can take an aptitude test that will tell them which faction they are best suited for. If they find they are better suited elsewhere, they can move to another society. When they do, they must leave family and friends behind.

Beatrice Prior is turning 16 and after living in the Abnegation Society, she now has the chance to move to another area. She chooses Dauntless, (perhaps because it's the near opposite of the quiet life she's lived til now) and goes to her new society, where she will face rigorous training to live in her new faction. But for Beatrice things don't go quite as planned.

I can't see myself living my day to day existence out in any one faction, because a well rounded person has parts of all. I have moments were I'm peaceful, and others where I'm daring. But in Veronica Roth's dystopia, a well- rounded person should be thrown out of society or killed.

I've taken a look at two best selling series that look at Dystopian Societies, and there are others.

Given the interest in Dystopian Reads, I've asked some Christian Authors to share their stories.

Author Katie Clark has a YA dystopian trilogy that will come out with Pelican Book Group at some point she says:

Why Write Dystopian?

I was drawn to write it because I love any story where someone faces terrible odds and still manages to rise to the top and make a difference.
What does it look like? 
Mostly dilapidated cities, all walled and monitored closely. Mostly poor people who receive government rations. There is one city called Greater City where the “rulers” live, and their city is neither dilapidated or poor. They are crooked.

Parallels to our own society?
In a few ways, but I didn’t try to make any points, overall.

Would I live there?
No way.

Bob Paige answered my questions as follows:

Basically, dystopian focuses on the people, whereas post-apocalyptic focuses on the survivors of some event. That said, they can be combined.

Since I see my writing as at least partially dystopian, I'll answer your questions :)

Why Write Dystopian?
My form of dystopian is Christians vs. the world. A cataclysmic event has happened, and the Christians were selected as not worthy for the government lifeboat. So, on their own, how will they respond? What will they do?

From a writing perspective, I like the mash-up of modern people dealing with little to no technology (or sketchy technology). The setting is familiar to the reader, but different enough to make it interesting.

I also see my stories as an example of where we could be in the near future if our government ever decided Christian beliefs were a mental condition that should either restrict our role in society, or be treated by the medical community.

What Does Society Look Like?
World governments knew the event was coming (asteroid impact) so they set up walled cities to preserve those whom they felt were worthy. Lots of people were excluded to fend for themselves. Many Christians joined together to form different organizations to help those less organized, but were quickly overwhelmed. The second wave of organization resulted in The Order which includes education (physical and spiritual) as well as medical. Given the general lawlessness, it also includes training in self defense. 

Parallels in Contemporary Society?
I think there *could* be parallels, if (as I describe above) Christian beliefs ever become outlawed or ruled aberrant. 

Would I Live There?
Looks like a scary place to me, rebuilding a society from scratch. I'm not sure.

Author Nadine Brandes who's own dystopian novel A Time to Die (releasing soon through Marcher Lord Press) answered as follows:

I'm drawn to write dystopian because I believe it can be very applicable to where our society is heading. I partially love speculating where we might be in 100 years as a government and what my faith would need to be like to withstand it.

I see a lot of parallels of my society in true life--I actually draw many issues from real life and just accentuate them in my story because I think our culture is blind to a lot of it. Some main things in my story are disunity, self-preservation, and skewed justice. I believe we have those in our society today, but I like to twist them so they might be more recognizable.

Yes, I would live there, not because I think it is better than now, but with the hope of being able to cause change and to stand set apart from others. To bring hope where hope is quickly snuffed out.
***Be sure to stop in and visit Nadine through the Link above.***

Dystopian reads are not new, nor is the idea of split societies. 

In the 2002 remake of the Time Machine a classic story by H.G. Wells, Dr. Alexander Hartdegen tries to rewrite history by building a time machine so he can travel to the past to save his beloved Emma. No matter what he does, Emma always dies. So he travels to the future to see if he can find a way to save her and gets knocked unconscious and wakes several thousand years later when New York has broken down to two races. Eloi and Murlocks.

Eloi dwell in the light and the Murlocks dwell in the earth and come out to take the Eloi as slaves and food. The good doctor wants to help the Eloi and somehow put society to rights.

An apocalyptic event was the catalyst for The Dystopian society in the Time Machine, but is not always necessary for a Dystopian story. There may be other catalysts, apathy, spiritual, etc.

Given the idea of the breakup of Society, could it be said that the Bible told the first dystopian story at the tower of Babel?  And have we changed the model for the church to a dystopian type society as well? Just wondering. 

What other Dystopian Stories can you think of?

Could you imagine living in any of these societies? Perhaps not, and yet, maybe on some level you already do. Think about how we split up the Church. And think, our cities are broken down by factions of race and money. Maybe these Dystopian societies parallel more aspects of the one we live in than we realize. Can you see others ways they might?


  1. Stopping in to say Good Morning. And welcome.

  2. Tina,
    What an interesting post. I'd never heard the term Dystopian, although I was aware of those best-sellers. People have always been divided by class. A ruling class (the rich), a middle class (people who work for a living), and the poor. That's the way it is today, and always will be until that new heaven and earth God promises comes.

    I'm not a fan of Dystopian, preferring historical and traditional romance, but many people like it. The underlying struggles are basically the same.

    1. Hello Elaine,

      You are right the underlying struggles do remain. And can be they heightened in any genre.

      We do live in a broken society, split on many levels. Maybe that's the draw of dystopian stories cause the breakdown ibecomes clearer.

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  3. I was not familiar with Dystopian writing. Thank you for the insight!

    1. Britney, 
      Glad you came by. You are welcome to the insight. We hsve so many genres and ideas out there who could begin to know them all