Sunday 29 June 2014

Alright Folks, it's 19 days and counting until The Hunt For Tomorrow. From the WHAT TOMORROW BY BRING boxed set is author Joseph Turkot's essay on Dystopian Fiction. Enjoy.

Dystopia, by Joseph Turkot
Think of a utopia, and in your next breath you imagine a perfect society. Harmony unending. The living ideal. And something inside of us says we can never reach such a place by our own efforts. Any attempt at perfection falls short, by whatever degree.
Think of a dystopia, and in your next breath you imagine the worst mankind has to offer—or more terrifying yet—the worst that will still come.
It is within the compromise of both these extremes that we find the dystopian novel. Some kind of hope for progress, contrasted against a great decadence, whether it be man’s own doing, or the nature he is formed from.
It is in such a struggle that our two friends find themselves. They are to each other more than they know, but a catastrophe that has ravaged the old progresses of civilization forces them to find out how much more, and what left of humanity remains alive in them.What does it mean to persevere? To possess resilience? To combat the loss of one’s own values? These are the kinds of questions I am interested in. These are the kinds of questions that Tanner and Russell face.
If everything we suppose to be good about our humanity slowly starts to decay, merely because it has to, what do we throw away first? What do we decide to take with us to our graves?
Some dystopian stories work upon the fantastical, and for that effort, produce a sense of wonder and awe. Some work upon the mundane realities of normal events, but push them so consistently that endurance itself is the last and only virtue. The Rain is a story about endurance in a dystopian world, where nature isn’t the reliable nurturer we egotistically assume it to be. Something awful has happened, and endless rain has drowned most of what was once called civilization and humanity. Russell says it’s the veneer. And he believes there is a place where it’s still thick. A place where it’s stopped raining. But as in all dystopian stories, weakness works ruthlessly upon the characters thrown into such dire hopes, and utopian fantasies are often never what they seem.
I wrote this story as an exploration of the human spirit, and its willingness to find some kind of negative capability within the compromise of two ideals—the utopian and the dystopian—the very reflection of which has more to say about our own society than we might have ever imagined possible.

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