Dystopian Science Fiction
What is Dystopian Science Fiction?
Dystopian Science Fiction can be summed up as the opposite of Utopia—imperfect societies in the near-future. In actuality, Dystopian Sci Fi stories often include Utopian elements like deep social control. These measures of control are taken to the extreme in Dystopian Sci Fi. Often, Dystopian stories deal with political issues like police states and repression. The value of Dystopian Sci Fi is not that it predicts what will happen, but what we fear will happen and investigates whether these fears are valid or destructive in of themselves.
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Level of Real Science
Low. Dystopian stories often feature advanced technology because they take place in a speculative future. However, the focus is rarely on these technologies and more on the social and political aspects of the dystopian society.
Level of Grand Ideas/Social ImplicationsHigh. This sub-genre is a way for authors to explore their fears, or current fears in their society, about society, politics, environmentalism, religion, psychology, or technology. As a result, social and political commentary abound.
Level of Characterization
High. Dystopian Sci Fi is often told through the perspective of a single protagonist who questions or acts against the social or political order. As the reader experiences the dystopia through the protagonists' point of view the reader gets to know the protagonist and so the character has to be pretty flushed out. Main characters are often complex because they are combating grand ideas and going against the social and political order.
Level of Plot Complexity
Sometimes unfulfilling. Plot is key to Dystopian stories: the protagonist, sometimes a group, rebel against the dystopia and this conflict can make for a complex and interesting plot. However, in much the same way Dystopian Sci Fi deals with the imperfect, the acts of protagonists often fail—it is a narrative arc of hopelessness.
Level of Violence
Moderate to High. Plots of Dystopian Sci Fi necessitate high conflict because rebelling against the system is a big deal. Frequently, but not always, these conflicts result in violence. In addition, violence is often present in the dystopian society, as in Anthony Burgess' A Clockwork Orange where youth gangs are descriptively violent.
Utopian Science Fiction is the most obvious relation because Utopia and Dystopia are opposites and yet are also defined against each other.
Social Sci Fi is another obvious relation because Dystopian Sci Fi is very much concerned with what is happening in the future society.
Post-Apocalyptic Sci Fi is also connected with Dystopian Sci Fi. Many Dystopian stories are set in a future that has survived some kind of apocalyptic event and the dystopia is one way society has coped with the event.
You like stories with happy endings and re-assert the status quo. Dystopian Sci Fi is a literature about questioning and challenging what has become the norm in its world and it is a literature that will make the reader re-evaluate their own lives.