Notes from An Alien

~ Explorations In Reading, Writing, and Publishing ~

Why Is There So Much Dystopian and Apocalyptic Fiction?


Perhaps I should begin by defining Dystopian and Apocalyptic (though, I imagine omnivorous bookworms are quite familiar with these “genres”…).

Dystopian Apocalyptic Fiction

Spotted outside @Waterstones in Bloomsbury, London ~ from @For_the_Wynn ~ https://twitter.com/For_the_Wynn/status/747829187772297216/photo/1?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw

I’ll start with Dystopian (in the Oxford Dictionary of English):

“…relating to or denoting an imagined place or state in which everything is unpleasant or bad , typically a totalitarian or environmentally degraded one…”

Now, Apocalyptic:

“…describing or prophesying the complete destruction of the world…”

My short novel, Notes from An Alien (which can be bought but is still Free) begins dystopian, edges toward apocalyptic, then takes a few major turns to end up in places not initially imagined

Why is there so much dystopian/apocalyptic work out there [?] is an interesting question.

At the end of this post, I’ll hint at my own explanation; but, let’s start with an article at Publishing Perspectives (which deals, primarily, with the lesser of the two “evils”)That Long, Rocky Road: Why Is Dystopian Fiction Evergreen?

As always, I encourage you to go read the full article; but, I’ll share some excerpts.

First, a few opinions from John Joseph Adams, editor of a science fiction/fantasy imprint from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt:

“Dystopian fiction–and in particular Young Adult dystopian fiction–has been the trend for so long because it resonates deeply with young people. When you’re young, you see society as dystopian; everything is against you; things don’t seem fair; you get bullied…”

That seems to say that dystopia is only in the minds of young adults and not in our world

Adams goes on to say something that may mean he sees real life as dystopian:

“People may eventually get too beaten down by the combination of terrible things happening in the real world and terrible things happening to characters in fiction, and shift drastically to something like escapist fiction, or perhaps an even more direct response by shifting to utopian narratives instead.”

Then there’s Aliette de Bodard, French-American speculative fiction writer:

“I have done a lot of code switching between cultures, so I can see that each has a different view of what is dystopian.”

“In the West, the young’s fears aren’t of nuclear war—that is the fear of the previous generation. It’s the fear of pandemics or global warming, which can seem vague, but are real to the young.”

And here are Natacha Derevitskymanaging director of Pocket Jeunesse, the imprint for 4- to 20-year-olds of French publisher Univers Poche and Xavier d’Almeida, director of its Young Adult collection.

I’ll direct those wondering who said which excerpt to the full article at Publishing Perspectives :-)

The following statement could mean, again, that our world isn’t dystopian through-and-through; or, it might be interpreted as saying the future actually can be better:

“…for YA, dystopian stories have to have an optimistic ending. It is also important that they have a realistic theme – which can be related to something that is happening in our society.”

And, one final excerpt from the article:

“It is not really growing any more. We’ve been waiting for another type of book for the last two years. These could be more realistic, issue-based books, but we don’t know how popular these books could become.”

So, there you have four folks who are deeper into the mainstream book world than I am.

I’m merely a published author who writes a blog; but, I do have a dystopian novel (and a few such short stories) and I certainly have played with apocalypse

But, before I say why there’s so much of this fiction (and keeping in mind that enough dystopia can easily tip the scales into apocalyptic states), I should share the word history of apocalypse (my bolding):

French from ecclesiastical Latin apocalypsis from Greek apokalupsis, from apokaluptein uncover

Interesting, isn’t it?

A word we use for the end of the world comes from words that lead to the meaning “Uncover”

A close study of human evolution shows that all shouts of complete doom have echoed through time as transitions to new levels of human endeavor—each Winter of humanity has melted into a new Spring

So, I think the two brands of fiction under consideration are prominent because writers sense the Winter/Spring Transition coming

I’ll close this post with a brief statement from the Prologue of my novel:

“You’re about to read the story of a People who went from a 500-year InterWorldWar and nearly complete loss of hope to enduring security. May the truth we discovered bring you courage to face the necessities of building a path toward global peace.”

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One response to “Why Is There So Much Dystopian and Apocalyptic Fiction?

  1. Pingback: Dystopia & Apocalypse ~ Two Seemingly Immortal Genres . . . | Notes from An Alien

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