Hunger Games fever (not an actual ailment) continues to sweep the nation. If you’re a reader of fiction, you probably know that the demand for not just The Hunger Games, but also all young adult dystopian fiction, has been quite high the past few years (see Matched and Divergent, among many, many others). In fact, I would wager to say that the overall popularity of that genre transcends YA and includes some of the most notorious books of the last 40 years (see Fahrenheit 451 and 1984).
I love dystopian fiction because it takes a familiar world, turns it on its head, and gives me the chance to explore one potential future and the reasons it became that way.
However, dystopian fiction is inherently sad. You’re basically reading about the end of the world as we know it, about how bad things can get. It’s a little discouraging.
Thus it was refreshing to read this over at David Anthony Durham’s blog about a month ago:
[A related post about positive futures in sci fi writing] leaves me hankering for a big, hopeful, bold novel of a future that we can aspire to. I like dystopian fiction as much as anyone, but… it might be nice to find a way to feel positive about a possible future – and challenged to achieve it.
YES. Why is the future so terrible in fiction? If a writer creates a hopeful future, something we can aspire to, doesn’t that mean that we might actually make it happen instead of devolving into Hunger Games savages?
So when I sat down to start writing my novel 25 days ago (I’m at 35,000 words now, so I’m on schedule), I kept Durham’s words close at hand. I knew I wanted my story to take place in the not-so-distant future, and I didn’t want the world to look all that different from present-day. And most importantly, I wanted the future to look better than 2012, and I wanted there to be specific reasons for why it gets better. Not that 2012 is so bad–in fact, for the most part it’s quite good–but the key is that things get better instead of getting really bad.
My novel isn’t utopian, and it definitely isn’t dystopian…perhaps anti-dystopian is the best classification. Either way, I’m not done yet, so who knows what the world will look like by the end of the novel?
What significant improvements do you foresee happening in the next 80 years? What will be completely different in 2092? And I’m not just talking about technology; I’m talking about government and the environment and relationships and pets and entertainment, all of it. What are your predictions? I’ve actually incorporated one idea that a reader brought up in the comments section a few weeks ago, so if one of your ideas hits home with me, it might end up in the novel, and I’ll be sure to credit you.