Friday, June 15, 2018

Dystopian Fiction: Part 4

Dystopian Fiction: Part 4

Joe Bonadonna



As I mentioned when I first started out in Part 1, I haven’t read a dystopian novel in decades, probably not since the early 1980s, at the latest — unless you count Stephen King’s Cell or some zombie apocalypse novels. So I’m really no expert authority or even very knowledgeable about novels published in the last decade of the 20th century, let’s say, and especially those published in the 21st century. Typing “21st century” is still rather strange for me: the future is now, sort of thing, and probably because I spent the first 50 years of my life living in the last 5 decades of the 21st century. I am truly a product of those years, especially of the 1960s.

What I hope to accomplish here is list some books I have heard of but have never read, and list a number of films I’ve seen. In my experience, dystopian fiction was usually a science fiction novel set in a dark, grim future, and long before the label was attached to these. In these novels the future usually involved totalitarianism in one form or another: fascist, oligarchic, and religious regimes; sometimes alien invasions by some good old extraterrestrial space invaders, or a plague or horrific proportions were the catalysts, as depicted in such novels as Footfall, by Jerry Pournelle and Larry Niven, and in I Am Legend, by Richard Matheson. Many other novels had strong science fiction tropes, combined with a dystopian backdrop: The Missing Man, by Katherine MacLean; The Demolished Man, by Alfred Bester; After Things Fell Apart, by Ron Goulart, The Lathe of Heaven, by Ursula K. LeGuin; Alternaties, by Michael Kube-MacDowell; Time Storm, by Gordon R. Dickson; Planet of the Apes (a/k/a Monkey Planet), by Pierre Boulé; The Masks of Time, and The Word Inside, by Robert Silverberg; Riders of the Purple Wage, by Philip Jose Farmer (originally published in Dangerous Visions, edited by Harlan Ellison); and almost anything by Philip K. Dick. The works of Ayn Rand, too, can be said to be of dystopian futures, but I must confess that I have never read her work.

There are scores of novels I’ve heard of but have never read, and surely scores of titles I never even heard of. It seems to me, however, that the 21st century has brought dystopian fiction to a whole new level of popularity. Why more and more writers are turning out dystopian fiction, and why more and more readers are picking up on them, I can’t really say for certain. Perhaps it’s the political climate in the USA and the surrounding world. Perhaps the genre’s time has come: where once rocket ships to other planets and space exploration were the thing, and time travel a popular trope, the many worlds of Dystopia are now being explored. And why I can sit and watch a movie about a dystopian future but cannot read any more novels about dystopian futures is a complete mystery to me. Perhaps it’s because a book is totally subjective, and all you have with you when you’re reading are the author’s words and your own imagination. Thus, the novel affects you on a different level, perhaps several levels. With a film, you get visuals, music, sound FX, special FX, actors playing out their roles . . . and all that puts the story on a different level for me, and at times keeps me distracted from the dark, grim, near hopeless core of the story. I don’t know. I have never written a dystopian novel, although I have written my own “zombie apocalypse” screenplay, back in 1997. But that falls more into the horror genre, anyway. Perhaps fans and authors of dystopian fiction will give me some insight into why they read and write these novels. And who knows? Perhaps if a inspiration strikes me with an idea and a plot that intrigue me enough, something I haven’t seen or heard of before, then maybe I’ll write one.

Here, in no particular order . . . is a very incomplete list of all the “old” and more recent dystopian movies I’ve seen.

Metropolis, by Fritz Lang
La Jettee, by Chris Marker
The Last Man on Earth, starring Vincent Price (based on Richard Matheson’s I Am Legend.)
Alphaville, by Jean Luc Goddard
A Boy and His Dog, based on Harlan Ellison’s novella
Strange Days, by James Cameron and Jay Cocks
Blade Runner, by Ridley Scott (Philip K. Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?)
12 Monkeys, by Terry Gilliam
Brazil, by Terry Gilliam
Minority Report, by Steven Spielberg (based on Philip K. Dick’s story)
Gattaca, by Andrew Niccol
The Matrix, by The Wachowski Brothers
V is for Vendetta, The Wachowski Brothers
THX-1138, by George Lucas
The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins.
The Maze Runner, by James Dashner.
Divergent, by Veronica Roth.
The Handmaid’s Tale, by Margaret Atwood.
City of Ember, by Jeanne DeFrau.
Equilibrium, by Kurt Wimmer
Elysium, by Neil Blomkamp
District 9, by Neil Blomkamp and Terri Tatchel
Children of Men, by Alfonso Cuarron
Snowpiercer, by Bong Joon Ho

Well, there you have my 2-cents worth. There are certainly many other films that can be considered dystopian futures, such as Terminator, Robocop, A.I. (Artificial Intelligence), and far too many more novels to mention. I just hope you’ve enjoyed my articles, learned about some novels and movies you may not have known about, and you’ll stop by again some time.

Author Walter Rhein, who has twice now been a guest on our blogsite, is the author of two very fine dystopian novels, The Reader of Acheron, and The Literate Thief. He wrote a great article on Millenials and why Dystopian Fiction is gaining so much popularity. Check it out!
https://jeyranmain.com/2018/04/24/millenials-like-dystopias-because-authority-figures-are-liars-by-walter-rhein/

Once again, thank you. I’ll see you sometime in the future . . . dystopian or not.

My Amazon page: https://www.amazon.com/Joe-Bonadonna/e/B009I1KYIK

OurAuthorGang member Nicola's McDonagh's blog on Cli-fi: Climate Change Fiction
https://asmallgangofauthors.blogspot.com/2018/04/is-cli-fi-new-genre-nicola-mcdonagh.html

#heroicfantasy  #spaceopera    #childrensbooks  

Erika M Szabo

7 months ago  -  Shared publicly
 
As you said. "Why more and more writers are turning out dystopian fiction, and why more and more readers are picking up on them?" Probably because the popularity of genres go through cycles. When readers get bored with one genre, they migrate toward another and writers come up with new stories for the genres that are currently popular.
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Very true. I'm in my WWII thrillers and western/cowboy cycle right now.

Lorraine Carey

7 months ago  -  Shared publicly
 
I've seen a few Dystopian films and they really make you think if it could be a real glimpse into our future. Good list of books here. I'm going to check out a few of these movies too. Great post, Joe. #OurAuthorGang  
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+Lorraine Carey -- now, think of a premise were they kill you offer for having sex with a human: only robot sex is allowed . . . because robots have taken over and control us all. It's their way of "population control," plus they enjoy it, too. :)
 
+Joe Bonadonna Yes! Good one! I have to start taking some notes on that one. Hmmmmm

Rebecca Tran

7 months ago (edited)  -  Shared publicly
 
What a great list Joe. I think you may be right. People may like dystopian fiction to remind them that things aren't as bad as they think. Good post as always.
 
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Rebecca Tran

7 months ago  -  Shared publicly
 
Join Joe Bonadonna as he wraps up his series on Dystopian Fiction on Our Author Gang.
 
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Walter Rhein

7 months ago  -  Shared publicly
 
Thanks for the shout out! I appreciate it! I'm happy folks have enjoyed "The Reader of Acheron," I hope to finish the third book in the next few months: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00HS1532E/
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Thanks, Walter! 

Joe Bonadonna via Google+

7 months ago  -  Shared publicly
 
Today, at long last, on #OurAuthorGang, we come to the fourth and final part of my series on Dystopian Fiction.
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Mary Schmidt

7 months ago  -  Shared publicly
 
You have packed a lot into this post. Hubby and I don't read mush dystopian but we have been watching a few shows - series really. Watched to the end. If zombies come out, then it isn't for me. Future society is interesting.
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Thank you. I don't read much DF anymore. The future is here. I'd rather have zombies. ;)

Ruth de Jauregui via Google+

7 months ago  -  Shared publicly
 
Joe Bonadonna shares more of his knowledge of dystopian fiction in both books and movies. A fantastic series that fans of dystopian stories should check out!
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Thank you!

Ruth de Jauregui

7 months ago  -  Shared publicly
 
Fantastic series on dystopian fiction! Thank you so much Joe!
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Thank you!

Chris Weigand via Google+

7 months ago  -  Shared publicly
 
More about Dystopian Fiction with Joe Bonadonna.
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Thank you!

Chris Weigand

7 months ago  -  Shared publicly
 
Thanks for that perspective. I had never really thought about it but I agree that movies for the most part don't make you think, don't make your imagine. Everything is on the screen and doesn't leave you room to create it in your own mind. I don't write dystopian, I prefer to stick to something a little lighter. I would say with hope, but even dystopian has some form of hope, just not as out there as other genres, you see more of the desolation and the darkness.. I have read several of the books on your list as well as watched the movies. I may have to check out some of the others that I haven't read.
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I'll probably never write a DF novel, although a Zombie Apocalypse novel could be fun, with the right hook and taking it in a new direction. I've cited the novels I think are the best. As for the films, they are what they are: entertainment.

Mary Anne Yarde

7 months ago  -  Shared publicly
 
A great list of books and films that explore dystopian fiction. Thank you for sharing, Joe
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Thank you!

Nikki McDonagh

7 months ago  -  Shared publicly
 
Nice list of books and films. I think I've read and seen nearly all of them. Philip K. Dick is one of my favourite sci-fi/dystopian authors, as is the late, great, Ursula K. le Guin. The novel, I am Legend, is far superior than the movie, which I hated, totally missed the point of the book.
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Thanks, Nikki. Both Dick and LeGuin are tops with me, too. The first film version of I am Legend -- very low-budget starring Vincent Price, and called The Last Man on Earth -- is considered by many, and by me, to be the best of the 3 films. It comes closest to Matheson's vision.

Grace Au

7 months ago  -  Shared publicly
 
Dystiopian books and films of our time is what's on #OurAuthorGang  today.
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Thank you!

Toi Thomas

7 months ago  -  Shared publicly
 
There's less than a handful of these films I haven't seen and less than a handful of these books I've read. Great post.
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+Joe Bonadonna Yeah, I guess I do.

Toi Thomas via Google+

7 months ago  -  Shared publicly
 
Today, Joe Bonadonna , discusses dystopian books and films of the late 20th and early 21st century. Compare how many of these you've read and or seen. #OurAuthorGang
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Thank you!