As I prepare for another evening of Roadburn, let’s talk about roads that burn as we take on extreme points of view. Dystopias represent what could happen if we continue to go down the “wrong” roads, utopias are an idealised endpoint if we unwaveringly keep taking the “right” roads (for whatever your versions of wrong and right).
What typifies almost all those dystopias and utopias is that they either see everything through dark-tinted or rosy-coloured glasses (“Mirrorshades” or “The New Improved Sun”), with precious few nuances. It’s heaven or hell, with nary a purgatory or two and almost nothing else in between: your literary future in starkly contrasted, two-dimensional monochrome. In the meantime, the modern consumer lives in a full-spectrum, super-high definition 3D world (and their gadgets approach it ever closer).
It’s this “let’s-distort-society-to-an-extreme” approach that ultimately renders both dystopias and utopias unrealistic at best, and useless at worst.