Utopia and Dystopia in Science Fiction
Posted by erikthereddest
Hellow everyone! Notice the changes in the blog? Well, that’s my doing. I’m something of a “blogmaster” around here, so it was my job to spruce up the place. There will be quite a few more additions, so don’t be alarmed if you suddenly find yourself stunned by the visual elegance of my handiwork.
Anyway, in all the time we’ve been writing on this blog, we’ve tossed around the terms “Utopia” and “Dystopia” a few times, and I thought for today I should explain what those usually look like in Science Fiction. The two are often mixed to varying degrees and you won’t often find one without at least some elements of the other, but in any case Science Fiction has a great deal of examples of these dramatic settings.
Utopia: The Dream of Heaven On Earth
Whether by feats of science or social engineering (or often a mixture of both), Mankind has finally done it- he has created the perfect society, full of love and joy and candy canes and lollipops for everyone. This idea goes all the way back to Plato’s The Republic, and usually involves a variation of his division of social classes along with rigid political structures that keep these classes in balance and all of the citizens in their places. I won’t get into the minutia of the philosophies behind this, but they vary from socialist, humanist, and religious motivations which seek to build a “heaven on earth” society usually based on Thomas More’s vision of it in his book Utopia (from which we derive the name).
In science fiction, utopia is usually realized once mankind has become so advanced that he simply has no need for war and other uncomfortable complications, or else by his technology he has purposefully managed to banish this unpleasantness from a society. Whether or not you think this idea is at all realistic or plausible is up to your particular worldview (I don’t happen to think it is at all possible in this world, and so Utopian stories bore me), but regardless, if you would like to read more about them, here are some examples of science fiction which contain Utopian settings:
Ah, now here’s more my style. Dystopias (sometimes called “Anti-Utopias”) revolve around the idea that either mankind has tried to build a perfect society (a Utopia) and absolutely failed, creating instead a disturbingly flawed monstrosity, or that he did it quite on purpose. These stories are usually social commentary, exaggerating trends and philosophies seen in the day of the author’s writing and taking them to their supposed ends. This can be anything from a brutal theocracy to a socialist nightmare of crushed individualism, to a world low on morals and ethics but high on science.
There are quite a few more Dystopian novels in the science fiction genre than there are Utopian ones, so there is a vast spectrum of variety in the way this setting is used. In fact, our first novel, Waverly Hall: Relois, features a very cool dystopian world! If you would like to read more about Dystopian settings, here are some novels that feature them:
About erikthereddestI'm a Masters student in English, and I love technology and Science Fiction. I am refining and enhancing my (admittedly novice) writing talents under the sage advice of my friends here at Lantern Hollow Press, and with the great many books I am reading from the best authors I can find.
Posted on October 19, 2011, in Authors, Books, Erik Marsh, Inspiration, Lantern Hollow Press Authors, Science Fiction, Social Commentary, The Hunger Games, World Creation, Writing Hints and Helps and tagged Dystopia, science fantasy, science fiction, Utopia. Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.