Sunday, August 28, 2011

Visions of Dystopia.

A hurricane is approaching New York; there are reports of a surge of water flooding between sky scrapers. The flood defences have been breeched. The water is rising. There are warnings to stay indoors, to retreat into a room with no glass, avoiding vestibules. It is frightening, even from the other side of the Atlantic, I can empathize - especially as I contemplate my latest reading plan: the dystopian novel.

Dystopia means, I have just discovered, 'a state in which the condition of life is extremely bad as from deprivation or oppression or terror' and for some weird reason, I like to read about such things. I suppose there is a thrill involved of being scared by proxy, not believing in the deep dark heart of me that such things could ever take place. So in 'Wall of Days' by Alastair Bruce the world is flooded, and in the 'Testament of Jessie Lamb' the human race is likely to die out through an act of terrorism; while in 'Six Degrees' by Mark Lynas there is a description of happens when the earth warms degree by degree. This latter one starts with the description of a hurricane, and in contrast ot the others is a work of non-fiction. From dystopian fiction to dystopian fact, then - and in consequence this last is the most terrifying reading of all.


Anonymous Mary said...

Clare - Have you read any Margaret Atwood? She's a Canadian author who is queen of dystopian fiction. (She's also a frequent Twitterer.)

Mon Aug 29, 03:05:00 am  
Blogger Clare Dudman said...

Oooh yes, read lots of Maragaret Atwood's! I even went to see her when she came to Manchester a couple of years ago on her mega tour to publicise one of her latest books. The event itself didn't enthrall me much, but it was fun to see the great writer in the flesh. (I still have a couple of hers waiting on my TBR pile though).

Mon Aug 29, 11:18:00 am  
Blogger Anne S said...

I love dystopian fiction. Somehow I'm enthralled by grim visions of the future.

My favourites are Margaret Atwood's Handmaid's Tale, P D James The Children of Men and Walter Tevis Mockingbird.

Tue Aug 30, 03:41:00 am  
Blogger Clare Dudman said...

Yes, Anne - same here. Why do we like it so much, I wonder.

Many thanks for the recommendations. I've never read any P.D. James, but have heard of Children of Men. I shall get hold of this and the Mockingbird one too.

Tue Aug 30, 08:05:00 am  
Blogger Anne S said...

P.D. James is a very fine novelist. She mostly writes detective stories. The Children of Men is a bit of an anomaly for her, but one of her best in my opinion. The film made of the novel is quite different; an action movie, whereas the book is more of a mood piece.

And of course I've been raving about Mockingbird for years.

Tue Aug 30, 10:47:00 am  
Blogger Clare Dudman said...

I thought Mockingbird sounded familiar - it must be from you! Anyway, just ordered it now, together with the P.D. James book. I've seen Baroness James in the AGMs of the Society of Authors. She usually has something intelligent and interesting to say. I hadn't known she'd strayed into this genre so thanks for letting me know.

Tue Aug 30, 11:08:00 am  

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