What is a dystopia?
A dystopia is a fictional and theoretical social state. It is the opposite of a utopia and usually involves a down-trodden society in which the powers that be are unfair and corrupt, for example George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four. The majority of this type of fiction involves the idea of totalitarianism, yet a dystopia can also be a pre or post-apocalyptic world such as Cormac McCarthy’s The Road. A dystopic state does not have to involve an entire planet either, it can be localised to countries or even particular segments of a society. Basically, a dystopia is a miserable place that has been amplified to illustrate the flaws in contemporary lifestyles.

What are some examples of dystopian fiction?
Nineteen Eighty-Four and the Road have been mentioned but of course these are two of the better known titles; there have been many dystopian novels published over the years and they all vary so much from one another that it would be pointless to simply list titles. Alongside literature there are a multitude of breathtakingly inspiring dystopian films such as BrazilChildren of Men and Gattaca. There are also a lot of dystopian films that are breathtakingly bad, and so one of the aims of Dystopic is to wheedle out the appalling fictional fodder and present you with a selection of the best. Click here for the books we have reviewed so far and click here for the film reviews.

What is the point in dystopian fiction?
It highlights everything that’s wrong or that could go wrong in modern society. If it were not for Yevgeny Zamyat’s fictional mirroring of the Russian revolution in We or George Orwell’s interpretation of Nazi Germany in Nineteen Eighty-Four, we would not have such a distinct vision of the past to remind us of the fragility of our future.

Isn’t it all a little bit miserable?
Well yes…and no. There is an element of foreboding to the genre that can seem a little depressing, but amidst the horror and the misery there is always hope, inspiration and even humour. Fiction is there to entertain, educate and enthrall, and dystopian fiction does this with the added bonus of making you think outside of the box. The genre also rarely dates.

So, where do I start?
You could start at the beginning. We by Zamyat is arguably the very first self-aware dystopian-themed novel and is surprisingly easy to read for a book written in 1920. It still feels incredibly relevant and was a great inspiration for George Orwell. For a film to start off with, not many can dispute the classic that is Blade Runner.


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Dystopian book and film reviews