Sunday, July 8, 2012

Dystopian Future

Whenever I read a dystopian novel, it always seems to express a future where humanity has turned against each other. Does this mean, that deep down, we all believe that when the world crumbles around us, that we as a species will completely break down and kill each other?

Is this a reflection of our true natures? Or our fears? Or is it simply because a dystopian novel where everyone treats each other with respect is just boring to read?

I've just started reading "Ready Player One" by Ernest Cline:

I'm not a big fan of first person POV, because I prefer the perspective that one would get when they watch a movie. This is how I write my novels, I see a little movie going on in my head as if I'm a viewer in a cinema, so to write in first person, just doesn't feel natural to me.

But anyway, I dig the vibe of the book. But just like I mentioned earlier, this dystopian novel is like every other. The main character Wade is essentially in a world of rapists, pedophiles, murderers, and a drug addicted aunty because his parents are both dead. And his only solace from this disgusting world is the OASIS, which is a virtual reality world that most of the world plugs into in a daily basis. Its essentially a virtual reality internet where he goes to school, and spends his days searching for a special treasure, that if he finds, will give him $270 billion. Not bad.

I like it so far. But If I had one nit pick it would be the beginning. The book takes so long to get going that I almost gave up. The author constantly keeps elaborating on the back story every chance he can get, that I remember saying out loud, "just start the dam story already!"

But I'm glad I kept reading. I haven't finished yet. But it definitely has that hunger games feel, although it does have a bit of course language, and the content is a little more adult. But if your above 15 or so it shouldn't be a problem.

That detour was just to confirm my original point. Every dystopian novel contains within it an assumption of a negative view of humanity. When the going gets tough, human beings become selfish beings who treat everyone else like shit. It's a very Richard Dawkins view of existence, that our genes are "selfish" and only live to pursue their own interests. Or you could say its a Machiavelli view where everyone must try and outwit and outplay each other to survive.

But in reality, I think the opposite is in fact true. In most circumstances in the world, when chaos erupts, most people do come together and help each other. Well, at least that's what the news portrays, I'm sure there are many instances in Africa etc where this isn't the case. But I like to think if the Western world plunged into an energy crisis then our lifetime of socially conditioned Western luxuriousness would lead us towards treating each other with the most respect we could.

But on second thought, perhaps centuries of that would eventually lead everyone to treat each other like shit as commodities become rarer and rarer. I don't know, its hard to make a real conclusion.

But I guess one thing is true. A world full of conflict is a hell of a lot more entertaining to read about then a world of lollipops and rainbows. So I guess that's the answer to my original question.

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