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Why dystopian?

Discussion in 'Writing Discussions' started by morfiction, Aug 15, 2012.

  1. morfiction

    morfiction Troubadour

    We all know something is bound to go really wrong in the world we live in so I think that's one of the reasons why Post Apocalyptic pops up a lot.

    I would like to discuss my game and how its different but I'm on a NDA and am still getting permissions to tell about things.

    So until I'm sure about the details, what do you think makes the apocalypse so entertaining?
  2. SlimShady

    SlimShady Troubadour

    I think the general hopelessness of post apocalyptic settings make them awesome. It's so hopeless that when something good happens it feels even better than usual. But, the thing that will make or break it is interesting characters.
  3. T.Allen.Smith

    T.Allen.Smith Staff Moderator

    Because it's the paramount of loss.

    For thousands of years (longer really), humanity across the globe strived for security. We moved from hunter-gatherers to agriculture, developed food stores, technologies that separated us from the wild of nature. This allows us the false impression that we, as a species, control our environment. In reality, nothing can be farther from the truth.

    The deep-seeded understanding that our idea of harnessing the world around us (our control of nature) is nothing more than a self-induced illusion is, in my opinion, the base reason of why post-apocalyptic stories resonate so strongly. Man again has to scratch out a life amidst harsh and unforgiving environments.... The achievements of thousands of years lost.

    If you are talking about Pre-apocalyptic, then take the above and throw in the ultimate ticking clock for suspense.
  4. JonSnow

    JonSnow Troubadour

    To me, the most interesting thing is watching humans degenerate from metropolitan, pampered, socialized beings back into savages as resources become scarce, and the survival instincts kick in.
  5. Lorna

    Lorna Inkling

    I think as a race we've always had a fascination with cosmology- beginnings and ends. Many people would like to see the end of the world (but probably not live through it). So we speculate about it.

    I'm interested in apocalypse in its original sense as revelation. Not the apocalypse at the end of the world but APOCALYPSE NOW. For me The Book of Revelation and apocalyptic works like William Blake's The Four Zoas are based on insights into mystical realities that can be accessed through the imagination. Apocalypse can take place on an individual level as well as universal, and apocalyptic insights can suggest ways of shaping the world.
  6. Feo Takahari

    Feo Takahari Auror

    The apocalypse creates an adventure-friendly world. With limited resources, everyone squabbles over what's left, and without law enforcement, the protagonists must defend themselves from bandits and raiders rather than relying on others.
  7. ShortHair

    ShortHair Sage

    For one thing, stories set in our world are kind of boring.

    For another, once you've put the Apocalypse in play, you can hold up our world to a funhouse mirror.
  8. CupofJoe

    CupofJoe Myth Weaver

    I might have to disagree with you a little bit...
    I love the idea of fantasy on a mundane background. Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman is almost perfect for being a 90 degrees view of London, but there again that is a fun-house mirror of sorts...
  9. Don't tell the crime fiction genre that. :)
  10. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Moderator

    There are lots of great stories set in the real world. I agree. And not just crime fiction, but thrillers, horror novels, classics, and so on.
  11. Penpilot

    Penpilot Staff Article Team

    I think this falls under the end of civilization type of story, it doesn't matter if the end comes via zombies, plagues, or the asteroid. I think the appeal is the starting over from scratch aspect, no debts, no taxes, no one telling you what to do at a job. It lets people ask the question if I could start fresh what would I do? How would I live? What rules would I choose to live under if any at all?
  12. Saigonnus

    Saigonnus Auror

    I agree with that... the methodology of how you get to the downfall of civilization isn't important; or at least not as important in comparison with the rest of the story. You are simply left with the aftermath of said event or series of events and exploring the dynamics of things that could be very different than it was before the end came. How would society change? What technological level would they be at? Who would be the new leaders?

    I think it's a fantastic way to explore the possibilities of human nature and how they deal with different types of situations both good and bad. It has the possibility of great diversity also, with stories that could span the whole world or just a small area and focus more on the societal aspects.
  13. MystiqueRain

    MystiqueRain Troubadour

    I think dystopian societies or apocalyptic situations make such entertaining stories--or writing them even--is because you have an endless panel of choices ahead of you. If everything's broken down and in chaos, it opens up a lot more possibilities for a writer to imagine and a lot more twists that a reader doesn't always expect. Like many people already said, a post-apocalyptic story often brings out the less civilized side of humanity, often due to the desire to survive. In the present world right now, it's hard for a lot of people to imagine themselves in such a situations unless they're actually struggling to live. These post-apocalyptic stories let readers position themselves inside this crumbled society.

    Also, another reason we might find these stories interesting is that there are already so many theories out there, whether they are realistic or not, about the future. Robots taking over the world, a natural disaster that effects all continents, just to name a few. I think exploring these many paths and never finding yourself taking the same one each time is a very unique experience, unless, of course, the story's plotline is too similar to another one.
  14. ...no refrigeration, no electricity, no rule of law, no industrial infrastructure, no antibiotics... ;)

    Joking aside, I do agree that it's universally intriguing to wonder what you would do if you could start fresh, and possibly reshape the world according to your own whims.
  15. Penpilot

    Penpilot Staff Article Team

    You forgot arguably the most important luxury of civilization that would sorely be missed... no toilet paper. Dry leaves just won't cut it for me. :p
    Hogin Yodeler likes this.
  16. The Dark One

    The Dark One Inkling

    It wipes the slate clean for a fresh beginning - so much fun to have with that, especially with characters that try to retain the old rules.

    Remember that classic Far Side comic where two fisherman are sitting in a boat and in the distance there's a mushroom cloud. One of the fisherman says (words to the effect of): I'll tell you what this means Hal...no minimum size and screw the bag limit!
  17. Chilari

    Chilari Staff Moderator

    It's a perfect set up for a tale of heroes. It's the exact opposite of a Greek tragedy, where the protagonist starts out on top of the world - a prince, favoured by a god, prosperous, loved and admired, before being brought low. The greatest tragedies are the greatest fall from the highest height to the deepest well. If you start down deep in the well there's a lot of potential for climbing up - and a lot of potential for conflict to crop up on the way. There's a lot of up to climb to, for a start.
    Last edited: Aug 16, 2012
  18. Ivan

    Ivan Minstrel

    I associate dystopian with the genre of 1984, V for Vendetta, We, etc. not necessarily the post-apocalyptic genre. These are interesting because they typically speak to a current issue or even a perennial one - in the examples I provided, that of totalitarianism - and makes you think about the issue in a different light.

    Post-apocalyptic stories are interesting to me because it throws the whole human existence into a different light- how do we function when the existing structures of society are demolished? How do we survive in a world devoid of resources that we take for granted? Fundamentally, who are we without civilization, law, or society to tell us what to do? That gets down to the soul of humanity, and questions all of our notions of morality and behavior, exploring the very foundations of our evolution from nomadic hunters to commuting office-workers. In any case it is something interesting to think about.
    Last edited: Aug 16, 2012
  19. Ireth

    Ireth Myth Weaver

    Isn't V for Vendetta kind of post-apocalyptic? In the graphic novel they talk about how nuclear warfare has wiped out nearly everything except the British Isles. I'm not sure how that comes across in the movie, or if it's in there at all... haven't watched it for a while.
  20. Ivan

    Ivan Minstrel

    Good point... All of those works do involve catastrophic wars. However, because they are set in a place that are more or less intact societies - albeit influenced by the destruction around them - I guess I don't consider them post-apocalyptic. They are missing the attributes I mentioned in my previous post that I personally associate with the post-apocalyptic genre.

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