Dystopian fiction where future meets history

Recently, I have immersed myself in dystopian sci-fi and speculative fiction (not only writing but also reading it) and topped this up with a few vintage post-apocalyptic films. It wasn’t a conscious decision on my part. I suppose my subconscious mind told me to do it. My body was craving a projection into the future, just like it sometimes craves salted-caramel ice-cream or sauerkraut.

I have also been indulging in historical fiction and fantasy as well as historical non-fiction. I suppose this was my ice-cream binge to balance the dystopian sauerkraut one.

What I found interesting is that – subconsciously – I have been circumventing contemporary fiction. I wouldn’t touch the times I live in with a barge pole.

I think there is a good reason for that. As a global society we have now reached that “tipping point” (incidentally the title of two very relevant books I’ve been reading, one by Terry Tyler, the other by Michelle Cook). Some call it a point of no-return. It’s the moment when we realise that we are about to lose control over the world we live in. Certain groups of people react by isolating themselves and hiding inside their homogeneous cocoons; they ostracise and blame others. There are those who simply deny reality and live every day to the fullest as if it was their last one (which may be a very wise strategy successfully applied by ostriches). And there are those who have accepted our tipping over the point of no-return and are now trying to regain control of what’s left, to make sense of it and start afresh on the rubble of the old. I do that in my personal life. When I feel that things are getting on top of me and I’m losing control, I tend to retrace my steps back in time, back to basics: my childhood, my home village, the woods I used to romp in with my dog, and me crawling under the duvet and shutting my eyes to ward off the bogeyman (it seemed to work then, not so effective now).

A similar response to our grim reality is evident from current trends in fiction. Writers reject all the stimuli our modern world smothers us with: all the mod-cons, technology, luxuries and riches, air-travel, space-travel, speed, greed, materialism, fashion and social media. Fiction writers search beyond that. Because that context cannot possibly constitute the pinnacle of our civilisation. It only shows we have transferred control to inanimate objects and the artificial intelligence (which isn’t really intelligent – it is only a vessel of our intelligence). Writers and film makers have the foresight of Kassandra, or at least they (we?) are simply more intuitive. Writers look outside the box and they travel beyond our times. To find answers to our unsatisfactory, disintegrating reality, they climb over the hill of that tipping point and back in time – back to the basics. Funnily enough, post-apocalyptic sci-fi and fantasy fiction take us back on history’s timeline, to a pre-industrial age – the times when we were still in control of ourselves. Think The Second Sleep by Robert Harris. This is where dystopian meets historical – it is the point of a fresh start.

The End of the Road http://mybook.to/TheEndoftheRoad

6 comments

  1. I’m with those who want to deny it’s happening and crawl under the duvet. I am definitely spending more time in bed. Whether I sleep or not is less certain. The world has been bedevilled by short termism. Governments want to be reelected so shy away from doing anything that will make life more difficult for the electorate. .

    On the individual level, when problems are so huge and you feel so powerless, and voices louder than yours are shouting hate at each other….. It can get a bit depressing, and, to retreat to the banal, boring!

    In the words of the late great Curtis Mayfield, you just have to keep on keeping on. x

    Liked by 1 person

  2. A thought-provoking article, Anna. I’m definitely in the escapism camp. When life’s tough, I like to read something that will take me away from day to day problems. I don’t see it as denying the present but as helping me to cope. In CBT (Cognitive Behaviour Therapy), avoiding things that might cause extra unnecessary stress (such as watching the news, reading the doom and gloom articles in newspapers) are recommended strategies to deal with anxiety, depression, etc. I think that with the world’s current situation we are all suffering from an overload of stress!

    Like

    • I have to force myself to follow this stress-free path or else I will implode. I tell myself to avoid the News and then I go and watch it, and I weep. There is nothing I can do so the only way is escapism.

      Like

  3. Although you might not be interested, I’m hoping you’d be intrigued. If you’d ever consider submitting some of your work for publication, Dixie State University has an online literary journal and is currently open for submissions.

    https://r7review.submittable.com/submit

    We are sorely lacking in fiction and nonfiction submissions!
    We also accept audio recordings, visual art, book reviews, multimedia, nonfiction, photography, etc. You can check us out at R7Review.com. The deadline to submit this year is November 6th.

    Liked by 1 person

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