Monday, April 16, 2012

Dystopian Gargantuanness

I love dystopian books and movies. The Hunger Games is just the latest in a long line that feed directly into the omigod-wow cortex of my brain. Bladerunner. 1984. Running Man. Brave New World. The Island. Uglies. There is just something about a dystopian story that flips my switches and I've been thinking lately about what that is. Why those stories stick with me so hard. Why they seem so massive in my memory.

I think it has something to do with the ideas. What if is a powerful phrase and a dystopian reality pimps that phrase for all its worth. It works with the extreme, the taken-to-the-max, stripped-of-pretense and exaggerated right to the edge of logic where we see the black and white truth more clearly than our usual grey world. Hunger Games is essentially what if Lord of the Flies was a reality tv show? It takes something true - reality tv and violence appealing to our culture - and pushes it out to the extreme.

I read an agent once who said there were three ways writers could be brilliant. Brilliant writing style. Brilliant plot. Or brilliant ideas. If I had to pick one of the three to excel in, I would always pick ideas. So perhaps that is why the massive ideas of dystopian fiction appeal to me so strongly. Because they are my personal crack - only the pure, uncut version.

What about you? Is there a particular kind of story that flips your switches every time? What do you look for as a reader or strive toward as a writer?

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