Why do I write dystopian novels?

Hi there! I'm Julia Karr (bio on the right) and today's my day on the blog!

I'd like to look at the question of "why I write dystopia"  through the lens of this Lewis Carroll quote, "If you don't know where you are going, any road will get you there."

It would be pretty amazing if governments and people had any idea where they were going - but, for the most part, they don't. That's not to say that many individuals don't have a perfectly good idea where they are headed - at least career-wise. And, goal-setting gurus have tapped into an incredibly lucrative market filled with seminars, books, cds, dvds, and so on to help people achieve their dreams. But, the truth is - if you look at the big picture - most peoples and countries are just living day to day. There may be some set agenda (as with political parties in the United States - each with their set agendas and when they get into power they try to implement them, which usually means spending 4 to 8 years of battling the other party to get even a quarter of their campaign promises through congress) but, for the most part - we just muddle along, following the status quo and living our lives, occasionally jarred out of our singular path by outward or personal events.

So, what does that have to do with writing dystopian novels? Well, while the majority of us are cruising along on auto pilot, things are happening. Some of those things seem good and some have a bit of a sinister undertone if, like me, one takes works such as George Orwell's 1984 to heart. I wonder at how easy it is for people to accept that Chicago has 10,000 cameras taking constant pictures of residents...  and not to think beyond how "safe" that might make Chicagoans feel and how easy it will be for the city to add even more surveillance as they deem it necessary.

And, that is just one small example of what fascinates me about how we come to accept certain things as "just the way things are."

When I write speculative/dystopian fiction - I'm exploring those "any roads" that will get humankind where they are going - whether they really want to be there - or not.

Now you know why I write what I do. So, the logical next question is... why do you read dystopian novels?

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22 comments:

salarsenッ said...

Very thought provoking post. I'm sort of a geek when it comes to observing all that's around me. I'm the girl in high school who used to ponder--what was perceived at the time as stupid questions--all that was going on around me and how we all interacted with it.

Nicely done.

MeganRebekah said...

I'll be honest, I love dystopian, but only certain ones.

I'm guilty of waiting until reviews come out on dystopians to see if I want to read them. Sometimes they get just a little too crazy/weird/huh? for me.

But when I like them, I adore them. The Giver was a favorite as a teen. I want to be best friends with Katniss from the Hunger Games. 1984 still makes me think (and reminds me of my 10th grade English teacher rushing to cover the TV when he showed the film version and didn't realize there was nudity)

AES said...

Great post! And great blog! Why do I read dystopian novels? Because it makes me feel better about the world we live in.

Shelli (srjohannes) said...

im loving this Beth! :)

beth said...

Actually, this is Julia's post, Shelli :) We're each taking a day of the week.

Susan Kaye Quinn said...

Your reasons for writing are exactly my reasons for reading (and also writing). In a way, by running all those thought experiments, and laying out the possible consequences, we are putting up the modern day equivalent of a sign that warns, "This way be monsters."

Can't wait to read your new modern-dystopias!

Christine Fonseca said...

I love your post! Dystopian is one of my fav genre's...keep it up

B.E. Sanderson said...

I just wandered over here from Literary Rambles and I'd like to say... YES. What you said is why I write and read speculative/dystopian novels. There are so many roads into the future and most of them could lead to very unpleasant places and situations that individuals have to overcome.

Thanks for starting this blog. I'll be a daily reader from now on. =o)

Faith E. Hough said...

Great post, and this site is gorgeous! I'm looking forward to more.

C. Michael Fontes said...

great post... and ditto!

Lindsay (a.k.a Isabella) said...

Great post. I love dystopian novels because they challenge me to think outside the framwork of the 'real' world. There is something interesting about loosing yourself in an alternate place.

Julia Karr said...

Thanks everyone for coming by and commenting! Hope to see you here often! :)

Pam said...

Why do I read is an easy question to answer. Mostly for the same reasons you write. They are in the 'that could really happen' category but still have a hint of escapism attached. It's the kind of real fear, but not really fear is it? More paranoia of what can go wrong with society if push came to shove. Thanks for sharing your reasons. I will be back more often. I have you in my momentous feed of awesome sauce.

Jemi Fraser said...

I was first introduced to dystopian books in high school - Fahrenheit 451, 1984 and others. I loved them - the bleak setting so easy to envision & the spark of hope. Part of the appeal for me is that it's an ordinary person who can make the change.

Susan said...

I love to read dystopian novels that have a female protag most often, with one exception being Ender's Game--but that's with a six-year-old!

I just love someone viewed as "weak" challenging these dystopian societies. Capable, older male need not apply. That's why Leviathan and The Maze Runner didn't quite hook me.

Julia Karr said...

Thanks again, everyone, for stopping by! I know we all hope that among our books you'll find ones you love! (hopefully ALL of them! :) )

Kate Evangelista said...

There's something about dystopian novels that sends shivers up the spine and make you think: Oh, Big Brother, where art thou?

girlsinthestacks.com said...

I <3 dystopia because it's like reading realistic fantasy.

Kiki Hamilton said...

Interesting post Julia! I can tell I'm going to be reading a lot more dystopian in the future!

Julia Karr said...

Hey, Kiki! Thanks for stopping by! And, well... you HAVE to read more dystopia! lol!

& Thanks Kate E - Now I have music Oh Brother Where Art Thou? stuck in my head! lol!

doctorcrankenstein said...

Hi Guys,

What a marvellous blog, I found it today using stumble upon, the fantastic little tool that it is.

Reading your Bio's I was surprised that I didn't see 1984 mentioned in any of them? A few posts later and here it is. I knew it would pop up sooner rather than later...

Bit of a shameless plug but I wrote a review recently on 1984 which can be found here:

http://doctorcrankenstein.wordpress.com/2010/02/15/spoilers-1984/

I wrote it because I didn't really like it that much yet the rest of the world places it up on such a high pedestal...

Looking forward to reading the rest of the blog :)

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