Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Living in Unparadise.

City Scene - George Luks

Dystopias are very popular these days. Most people seem to want to write some sort of dystopia or other. I'm writing a dystopia, my friends are writing Dystopias, seems like most of the world just swallowed a huge dose of Orwell. Either that or we're all depressed. Or sadistic. Or both.

Dystopia is ancient Greek for, "bad place" elsewhere it has been described as 'a society characterized by human misery'. Basically it's a place where we can take all our character's angst and suffering and turn it up to eleven. And, since all writers are sadists that happens to be something that attracts us.

 Usually, dystopias are written by the politically opinionated. The usual formula is to take a political opinion, usually an opposing political opinion, and take it to an illogical extreme where it's used to create total misery in society. For instance if the writer hates Capitalism, expect the world to be controlled by sinister cooperation and shady bureaucrats. If the writer thinks that Government is the source of all evils, then expect the world to be run in some sort of fascist state.

Thus means the core of dystopia is exploring human sinfulness. Dystopia is there to show where we go wrong. Sometimes the dystopia is shown to be pure evil, such as in 1984, or Fahrenheit 451, where the literature examines the depths of human depravity pure and simple. Other works, such as Bioshock or V for Vendetta, have portrayed ideological extremism as the source of Dystopia. But in every case the dystopia depends vastly on how the author views sin.

This means for us Christians, our view of sin will heavily shape how we will make our dystopias. Unlike many secular ideologies which only see the danger of sin in lying in one or two directions, Christians can see the danger of dystopia in many directions. Unrestrained hedonism is sinful in Christian Thought, but so is blind legalistic religious zealotry. We know that there are many ways that society can go wrong.

In the end though almost all dystopias will come down to this. A society characterized by lack of Love, where hate runs rampant and Christian Affection is squashed. The lack of love is at the core of every Dystopia. We were commanded to Love God and Love Each other. A Dystopia, whether Capitalist or Communist commands the opposite. Fear the gods, and Fear each other.

The advantage the Christians have when they write dystopia is that they are able to offer their audience hope. Seculars have a hard time grasping what went wrong in the dystopia, they know something did go wrong but they don't see where it is. The Christian knows where the answer lies. In sin. And, in human callousness.


  1. That was a REALLY good post that you did. I'm going to bookmark it. You've given me a lot to think about, and I think I'm going to dig up that dystopian story I'd abandoned and give it another shot.

  2. I likes. Definitely good food for the thought in the writing of my own dystopian fiction.

  3. I fully echo my Twinnie. Another great article, Brendan.

  4. Very, very good thoughts here. I foresee t'will be useful in the writing of my dystopian trilogy. *nods*
    Will you be writing an article about the different types of dystopia? Such as the false Utopia or the version where everything has basically gone to pot?

  5. Most definitely, I can't say I have a very organized structure for writing but I'll definitely be going more into detail on Dystopia. Not my last post on the subject. One on False Utopia would be interesting.