This week, Engen Books announced its 2019 call for submissions and focused in on Dystopia as the genre of choice for their anthology collection. As Dystopia is slightly separate from the ‘Big Three’ genres we’ve explored to far (Sci-fi, Fantasy, and Horror), we thought it would be appropriate to ask the question: “What is Dystopia?”
The word Dystopia comes from Greek heritage, where it means a society or community that is undesirable or frightening. Directly translated it means ‘not a good place’ and is used as an opposite for Utopia. In fact, many successful Dystopian stories use elements of both Utopia and Dystopia, in which a seemingly-Utopian society is revealed to be Dystopian for those of a lesser class. For a great example of this, see the 2005 Micheal Bay film, The Island description.
Dystopian stories are often allegorical. They have a hard time not being so, as depicting what we imagine to be a troubled future cannot help but have some reflection on how the author — and the reader — views the present. Dystopian novels seem to often start with the goal of answering the question: “If we continue down X path, how bad could things get?” A common hallmark of dystopian stories is that often enough time has passed that the protagonists cannot directly remember what the world was like before or were not present for the changed, making a society so different from our own that it may as well be alien.
Continue reading for some great examples to read to prep for writing your own Dystopian epic!