Shift from Utopia to Dystopia

Kelsey Boles, ORU
Senior psych major, graduating in 2 weeks
Paper is overview, doesn’t focus on one book in particular

Darkening Future: Shift from Utopia to Dystopia

Birth of sf, very first stories:
Jules Verne adventure story, outlandish adventures
Tomorrow Land at Disney World
Robot butler to clean your house
Man has conquered universe. Machines help people.

Now:
Grit and rubble.
Exploration of universe is escape from destroyed planet.
Some reason Earth destroyed, usually our fault.
Machines are destroyed or have rebelled against us.

Hope in bold Utopic 20th C, American path (not British)
Pre WWI and II, enamored with idea of utopia. Man getting better. Tech would fix problems.

Pulp sf around this time.
Formulaic fun stories
Adventure, futuristic
“sense of wonder” pervading belief that sf was great thing
Bradbury, Clarke got start writing for pulp magazines
Set in space and called it sf.
Pop pulp mags continued into 50s, because of intro of paperback books and changes in taste.

60s hope started to crash


Laser Age late 60s to early 80s
Challenged Utopian ideas
“false utopia involves giving up some aspect of humanity”
Blade Runner, Clockwork Orange,

Dystopian prompt
Dystopia strips freedom from people or has them born after these freedoms are gone.
Oncoming apocalypse “blame… shoulders of humanity for having driven the world to this point of apocalypse”
Planet of the Apes
Explored worst-case-scenario ramifications of actions through fiction
Make Room, Make Room “for your sakes, I hope this is a work of fiction”

Science as downfall: overpop, nuclear war, etc.
Have spent years trying to come up with ways to fix the problem.

Modern sf
Science causes the apocalypse
Terminator, Matrix, I, Robot, The Flame Alphabet

Modern Dystopias
2005-2015 young readers = dystopia
Hunger Games, The Giver, Divergent

Wall-E is for 5 yo. All humans off planet, too fat. Robots took over.
Children of next generation will grow up being told humanity is ruining everything.

Main characters of modern adventures are merely hoping to survive.

Scaffolding hope
“open framework which each decade’s writers can fill with their own themes”
“Perhaps some writer will capture the imaginations, force humanity to examine themselves and come up with solutions.”
Same stories (sf) that showed disaster… can be used to retell.

Dystopian never positive, always prod to something bigger and better.

If we can’t imagine a world where we created disaster, shouldn’t we try harder.

from ORU, 2015

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