As a deeply-rooted pessimist, I view dystopian fiction as the future we can most believably extrapolate from our present. We’re facing ecological crisis, economic crisis, overpopulation, constant war, killer drones, the internet killing all the things we used to love, Kardashians, unfair Wikipedia edits, obesity and, for Americans at least, the fear that our best days are behind us. These are downer times, so why will tomorrow be any better?
In that climate it comes as no surprise that dystopian fiction is the prevalent subgenre of speculative fiction crowding the marketplace today. From the oppressive state of 1984, to the neon-nightmare of Neuromancer, to the current Hunger Games wave, we have become very familiar with dystopias.
So familiar that you might wonder, has every good idea been excavated from the subgenre like ore from a sweltering deep-earth mine worked by gene-enhanced slave labor of the megastate? What’s left? What concepts haven’t been raided for dystopian reimagining?