and DYSTOPIAN FICTION
UTOPIAN FICTION is a genre
of English Literature, which delves into the social and political
structures of an ideal world. I guess it could be compared to living
in the Garden of Eden, minus a snake.
Its definition comes from the Greek words OU (not) or
EU (good), and TOPOS (place), thus it could mean
“no place” or “good place”. Sir
Thomas Moore (1478-1535) was first to coin the name in his 1516
book, in which he named an imaginary island, UTOPIA.
Generally speaking, Utopian Fiction novels are often based on communistic
or socialistic societies. Most philosophers and authors perceive
to dream and write about a perfect world, which is void of crime
and the mayhem that normally plagues our world. It’s far more
pleasurable to read about living in a garden with a perfect climate,
endless sources of free food, boundless sex, and a fun filled childlike
Many Utopian communities, beginning with Robert Owen’s New
Harmony, in Indiana (circa 1840’s) were established in
the United States. In that same time period were the Oneida
in Oneida, New York, and the Shakers, an English Protestant
group, which colonized in eight other states. Then there were the
Amana Colony in Iowa in the 1850’s and the Hutterites
in the Dakotas in the 1870’s.
In other parts of the world many Utopian settlements or colonies
still exist today, such as: The New Australian in Paraguay,
Sointula in Western Canada, Colonia Finlandesa in Argentina,
Kolkhozes in the Soviet Union, and the Israeli Kibbutzes.
The following novels present a good example of Utopian
Coming Race (1871) by Bulwer-Lytton. This novel
centers on a young explorer, who accidentally discovers a
subterranean world occupied by society of telepathic angel-like
beings called, VIRL-YA. They live in a technological Utopian
Society and possess an awesome source of power called, “VRIL”,
which has the extraordinary force to enable them to use it
for good or evil. This amazing energy source is capable of
healing the sick and dying, altering their appearances (similar
to shape shifting), and destroying all things (people or cities)
Ah, but alas, their Hercules’ heal is space! It seems
that their population in the tunnels beneath the surface of
the earth is overpowering its space. They begin to ponder
the thought of expanding to the surface of the earth, and
to use their bizarre powers to destroy mankind. To find out
what happens, read the novel.
Backward (1888-2000) by Edward Bellamy. This
novel relates a story about an extraordinary rich young man
living in the late 19th Century, in which, the rich elite
are in control of the masses. Unfortunately, he has a sleep
disorder. His disorder presents a problem for his marriage,
so he constructs a home with an underground secret room. Being
wealthy, he has a mesmerist to place him in a nightly deep
sleep. He, also, has a servant dictated to revive him daily
from his mesmerized sleep.
Sounds great! Well, the best made plans of men and mice went
askew when his home was completely destroyed by fire, leaving
him presumably dead. More than one hundred years passed and
his home site was excavated for a laboratory, and his hidden
chamber was discovered contenting his completely preserved
suspended animated body.
After his revival the young man quickly learns that the 20th
Century is a vastly different society and not what it was
to be, a Utopian Society, but a capitalistic society. Oh,
there’s more to this rich multi-faceted novel. Read
DYSTOPIAN FICTION is
also a genre of English Literature, but needs a little more definition.
Dystopia is defined as a perfect world gone bad. The idea behind
a Dystopian Society is a repressive and controlled state (police
state) in the guise of being Utopian.
Dystopian Fiction can be broken down into two categories:
Totalitarian and Bureaucratic.
Totalitarian Dystopia societies, usually hiding behind
a political ideology, utilize total control over and demand total
commitment from its citizens. Hitler’s Third Reich and Stalin’s
Soviet Union were excellent and real examples of such societies.
The premise of Marxism and Communism are class systems. Each dominates
the political thought of its citizens, and is very prevalent in
many of the world’s provinces and countries.
Good reads on this subject are:
Eighty-Four (1949) by George Orwell. It’s
a story about Oceania, a society ruled by the oligarchical
dictatorship of an elite political party. It introduces phases,
such as: “Big Brother”, “The Watcher”,
and other such contemporary vernacular terms that are used
today. The novel also refers to official deception, secret
surveillance, and manipulation of a Totalitarian political
(2011) by Marie Lu. This young adult novel is set
in post-apocalyptic Los Angeles. It takes place when the future
of the United States is very dark and bleak because it has
split into two warring nations. The novel relates a tale of
two fifteen-year-old male and female children. The male is
a criminal and the other is a female prodigy, which is hired
to hunt him down. When their paths cross, the truth they uncover
together becomes Legend.
Bureaucratic Dystopia societies are strictly regulated
and hierarchial. Bureaucratic regimes only strive to achieve absolute
power to enforce laws. This dystopia has very strong satirical qualities,
and to some extent, surreal qualities as well.
To explore this subject read:
451 (1953) by Ray Bradbury. This classic novel
presents a frightening vision of the future where reading
is outlawed. The story centers on a fireman whose main job
is to find books and burn them. Eventually, the fireman becomes
disillusioned with his job and the society around him. He
embarks on a journey of self-awareness and eventually escapes
his repressive society before it collapses.
Could all of this above fiction be a sign of the future world
we now live in? Will a “Privatized Corporate Dystopia Society”
rule our future? Is a “New World Order”, solely dedicated
to keeping the world’s citizens under an elite dominating
group who control at a complete loss of our personal liberties,
our future Or, maybe, the world as we know it today will become
controlled by a unified world government?