The Dystopian Novel

From the BBC Education website:
dystopia: (n) an imaginary place or condition in which everything is bad.
This definition from the Oxford English Dictionary would seem fitting in relation to the situations and societies often depicted in dystopian literature. When we think about the dystopian novel, what first comes to mind is often George Orwell's Nineteen-Eighty-Four. First published in 1949, it was Orwell's final work. In it he prophesied the advent of a flawless totalitarian society, in which the individual is of literally no significance. However, as it happened, the year 1984 came and went and we did not find ourselves slaves to the Party...

The critic Bernard Richards once said 'dystopias are useful; they warn us about what might happen'. This seems fair enough; you can finish a copy of 1984 and breathe a sigh of relief, safe in the knowledge that you don't live in the repressive state of Airstrip One in Oceania.

If we take this view, the dystopian novel is a comforter to the human psyche; we like to read about death and corruption, as long as we know that it can't happen to us. Or do we?

Mr. C's question:

Okay, so how realistic are dystopian novels/ short stories? Should we be worried? Please post a response.


  1. Dystopian novels can be half realistic, it is based on what could happen if humans continued to act this way, but it probably won't happen because the literature raises awareness of the subject. This prevents the issue from happening to us in the future so we don't have to be too worried about it.

  2. Dystopian novels and short stories depict what could possibly happen, so it is somewhat realistic. However, they are still imaginary, taking an issue and exaggerating it in order to warn us. That takes some of the realisticness (is that a word?) out of the novel/story. We should take the issue into consideration, but we don't have to freak out about it. It is after all a warning, not a psychic writer with a crystal ball.

  3. Dystopian novels, as long as they are thought through and the details attended to, can be quite realistic. As people have already imagined a dystopian world, it just goes to show that if they wanted dystopia to materialize,all they would have to do is to follow the plan of action in the books. Dystopian novels portray the worst-case scenario. However, in the books, most people don't actually think that it's worst-case scenario because they have been brainwashed by the government or whatever is controlling them. What I'm saying is, it's pretty easy to manipulate people for your own purposes. The how and why are already shown in the books; it's the when that's the problem. So I say that we should be worried, especially as technology is improving at such a rapid rate nowadays. Who knows what the government is hiding from us? (I sound like David now....with all his conspiracy theories...)

  4. David.....? Where are you. Have you been silenced by the Illuminati?


  5. Sorry Mr. Cluver for the late reply. So uh no Illuminati. Well uh yeah, the strange thing is that many dystopian novels have a seemingly communist government, like 1984 or Harrison. Many also have the we are all going to die thing or the collapse of humanity like by the Waters of Babylon. These novels are kind of like the prophets who stand beside the road with "Beware of the End" or whatever written on the cardboard boxes. Sure this is a warning to use, but seriously... the pessimism is just kind of wired. Strangely there seem to be little happy future books. So yeah, I think the novels are okay,but the communist thing is just um well just please go away cause communism isnt cool with me.

  6. Sorry I haven't really answered the question yet. I think they are not that realistic, because there will always be anarchists (like me) or freedom fighters fighting against a totalitarianism or suppressive government. According to Heaven Shall Burn(band)- Endziet:
    We're fighting to the last. Driven by your hate evoked in us. No one will surrender. A storm will break the silence. This storm will break the silence.
    So I believe they aren't realistic and are only stories reflecting the fears of the author during his lifetime. And no I believe we shouldn't worry, because there will always.....

  7. Dystopian novels are quite realistic. The fact that communism is used in the story makes is realistic. We should be worried that about getting taken over by a communist country, even though that's not very likely now. We still have to be prepared.

  8. Dystopian novels and short stories are realistic I think. Because most of the Dystopian stories set the future that was not to far away from us. For an example, in the short story Searching for Summer. It talks about what will happen after the nuclear war. I think that we should be worried about it because counties got many high technology products that can destroy world.

  9. Their pretty realistic,but then their not, most of the dystopians are set in the future therefore some can actually happen some can't the author's predictions aren't always correct
    we shouldn't be as worried about it cause their not necessarily accurate. (authors tend to exaggerate to get the reader's attention)

  10. I think such a story like "Searching for summer" is a dystopian novel. It shows a negative future. I think the destination of them is to think about our behaviour. Maybe we will change it/us, to avoid such a future. I think they can be so realisticle as possible I woudn't change me.
    Literature is very demagogical and when you really good write dystopian novels you can fear some people or change them, but this is dependent on the character of the reader.

    veni, vidi, respondi