By Zsasha Flores
Since the passing of the new millennium, there has been a revival of the dystopian genre. There has not been as high of an output of dystopian literature since the tumultuous 1960′s. However, its resurfacing has been followed by a reformation of the face of the dystopia. 1984 and Brave New World are unanimously considered to be the epitome of classic dystopia. 21st century is no longer reserved for adults. Young adult versions of dystopia, particularly series, have the highest output. The protagonist of the most popular dystopia of the decade is not a 30 something man, but a 16 year-old girl. Dystopia may start to be given a feminist spin. It is definitely no longer reserved for adults and, hopefully, is longer just a man’s game.
The revolution of dystopia is logical given the tragedies that have been faced in the past decade. In addition to tragedy, technology has always been a frequent fear in the genre. Technology becoming integrated into everyday life provides new fears; there has been a re-envisioning of Big Brother. The Patriot Act and the having the whistle blown on NSA spying has provided inspiration. Gary Shteyngart’s Super Sad True Love Story comes to mind. Unlike Big Brother, we are complacent in our loss of privacy. Our obsession with technology overrides our interest in personal freedom. It also contrasts with the classics because it is not projected into the future and reliant on new technology. Super Sad True Love Story is frightening because it is set now and is unsettling because much of it seems uncomfortably possible. Our increasing technology also increases our scope of tragedy, far surpassing the borders of the U.S. It will be interesting to see how this plays out in upcoming novels and the effects living in a post 9/11 world will further enhance the genre. However, the doom and gloom of the genre should not be cause to fret. Dystopia serves as a warning not a predestined reality.
Dystopia is constantly evolving. Though not synonymous with the depiction in Brave New World, in vitro fertilization has become a reality. As reality evolves so must dystopia because as our previous fears become our realities new projections occur. Despite its evolution, several themes will persist within the genre: oppressive government, sexuality, violence or lack thereof. As long as power and corruption remain, the dystopian tradition will persist. Considering how thoroughly these tyrannies are ingrained, the dystopian tradition will persist. Viva la distopía!