Okay, so I apologize if we've discussed this before, but it's something I've been thinking a lot about. A few months ago, I attended a class on dystopian literature, and realized there are different kinds. I had no idea! So I've been thinking about this since then. And then, POSSESSION came out last week, and some people are saying it's sci fi, and some are saying it's dystopian.
So I started thinking some more.
So here's some dystopian definitions:
dystopia - An imaginary place in a work of fiction where the characters lead dehumanized, fearful lives. Jack London's The Iron Heel, Yevgeny Zamyatin's My, Aldous Huxley's Brave New World, George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-four, and Margaret Atwood's Handmaid's Tale portray versions of dystopia. ...
dystopia - Polar opposite of utopia. A society in which social and/or technological trends have contributed to a corrupted or degraded state.
dystopia - an imaginary place where people lead dehumanized and often fearful lives; an imaginary place or state where everything is as bad as it possibly can be: or a description of such a place.
I read those, and I see "bad" "fear" "corrupt" and "dehumanized."
Let's look at some definitions for science fiction:
Science fiction is a genre of fiction dealing with the impact of imagined innovations in science or technology, often in a futuristic setting.
Kingsley Amis says "Science Fiction is that class of prose narrative treating of a situation that could not arise in the world we know, but which is hypothesized on the basis of some innovation in science or technology, or pseudo-technology, whether human or extra-terresial in origin."
Isaac Asimov says "Modern science fiction is the only form of literature that consistently considers the nature of the changes that face us, the possible consequences, and the possible solutions.
That branch of literature which is concerned with the impact of scientific advance upon human beings."
And for those of us not as deep as Asimov, Benjamin Appel says, "Science fiction reflects scientific thought; a fiction of things-to-come based on things-on-hand."
Okay, I don't see "space ship" in any of those. Ha! What I do see is "science" "futuristic" and "impact."
It's the last word that fascinates me. The impact of futuristic scientific achievements. I like that almost as much as space ships.
So, what do you think? Do you agree with these definitions? How would you define dystopian? Science fiction?
One thing is clear: dystopian and science fiction are NOT the same, but I can see how they can exist in the same book, space ships or not. Can you see that relation?