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(Wired)   We need to stop writing dystopian science fiction because it makes us fearful of technology, which could lead to medieval thinking and an abandonment of progress. This sounds like a great scenario for dystopian science fiction to tackle   (wired.com) divider line 67
    More: Obvious, electronic document, interactive video, the road, Babbage  
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751 clicks; posted to Geek » on 14 Aug 2014 at 4:31 PM (32 weeks ago)   |  Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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2014-08-14 02:49:03 PM  
"A Canticle for Liebowitz" for the win.
 
2014-08-14 03:12:11 PM  
We don't NEED to stop, but we CAN stop because John Brunner nailed it already.
 
2014-08-14 03:49:03 PM  
A lot of the best SF has distinct dystopian overtones, so DIAF hipster WIRED writer guy.
 
2014-08-14 04:12:37 PM  

DjangoStonereaver: A lot of the best SF has distinct dystopian overtones, so DIAF hipster WIRED writer guy.


Not only that, but it helps us to recognize and avoid pitfalls that we might otherwise not be aware of.
 
2014-08-14 04:14:50 PM  
Arzool the barbarian stared quizzically at the ancient remains of the ruined city of the Precursors, those fabled ancestors whose civilizations had toppled in the Dark Years.  All around him, dusty piles of ruined dystopian science fiction novels towered, casting a pall of hopelessness and despair on the crushed skulls and broken skeletons who lay underneath ages of dust.  He hefted his chainsaw axe, hoping to find some last spark of hope among the ruins that could save his people, and saw nothing but dust.

"Arzool!  We must flee!  The luddites draw near!" yelled his companion, Urusla the neo-druid.  Almost at the same instant, a crackle of plasma rifle fire destroyed the stack of novels in front of Arzool, filling the air with random pages of bad writing from bad science fiction books and toppling him over backwards.

"Death is coming for you, techno-wizards!" shouted the luddites from the tunnels below.  "And your shiatty novels, too!"

Reflexively, Arzool grabbed at one of the floating pages from the destroyed novels.  Amazingly, it was in common, and he was able to read-

"Arzool the barbarian stared quizzically at the ancient remains of the ruined city of the Precursors, those fabled ancestors whose civilizations had toppled in the Dark Years-"
 
2014-08-14 04:16:23 PM  
I've got to say zombie horror stuff is played out. Too many narrow noggin types are starting to take it as reality and use as an excuse to be xenophobic.
 
2014-08-14 04:34:53 PM  
Why write a novel?

Just wait five years.
 
2014-08-14 04:35:00 PM  

toraque: Arzool the barbarian ...


Oh bravo, sir
 
2014-08-14 04:35:55 PM  
Paolo Bacigalupi better not see this and take it to heart.
 
2014-08-14 04:36:11 PM  

toraque: Arzool the barbarian stared quizzically at the ancient remains of the ruined city of the Precursors, those fabled ancestors whose civilizations had toppled in the Dark Years.  All around him, dusty piles of ruined dystopian science fiction novels towered, casting a pall of hopelessness and despair on the crushed skulls and broken skeletons who lay underneath ages of dust.  He hefted his chainsaw axe, hoping to find some last spark of hope among the ruins that could save his people, and saw nothing but dust.

"Arzool!  We must flee!  The luddites draw near!" yelled his companion, Urusla the neo-druid.  Almost at the same instant, a crackle of plasma rifle fire destroyed the stack of novels in front of Arzool, filling the air with random pages of bad writing from bad science fiction books and toppling him over backwards.

"Death is coming for you, techno-wizards!" shouted the luddites from the tunnels below.  "And your shiatty novels, too!"

Reflexively, Arzool grabbed at one of the floating pages from the destroyed novels.  Amazingly, it was in common, and he was able to read-

"Arzool the barbarian stared quizzically at the ancient remains of the ruined city of the Precursors, those fabled ancestors whose civilizations had toppled in the Dark Years-"


Your newsletter.  Where do I subscribe?
 
2014-08-14 04:36:53 PM  
Well, even Star Wars is a bit dystopian. Happy stories make for the back story, not the narrative of a book people want to read.
 
2014-08-14 04:40:20 PM  
This was the whole point of DS9, and later Battlestar Galactica.

/lookin' at you Behr and Moore
 
2014-08-14 04:42:08 PM  
Darker
Grittier
Darker
Grittier
Darker
Grittier
Darker
Grittier
Darker
Grittier

Just keep repeating it until we all get really really tired of it.  I passed that point about 10 years ago.
 
2014-08-14 04:44:43 PM  

toraque: Arzool the barbarian stared quizzically at the ancient remains of the ruined city of the Precursors, those fabled ancestors whose civilizations had toppled in the Dark Years.  All around him, dusty piles of ruined dystopian science fiction novels towered, casting a pall of hopelessness and despair on the crushed skulls and broken skeletons who lay underneath ages of dust.  He hefted his chainsaw axe, hoping to find some last spark of hope among the ruins that could save his people, and saw nothing but dust.

"Arzool!  We must flee!  The luddites draw near!" yelled his companion, Urusla the neo-druid.  Almost at the same instant, a crackle of plasma rifle fire destroyed the stack of novels in front of Arzool, filling the air with random pages of bad writing from bad science fiction books and toppling him over backwards.

"Death is coming for you, techno-wizards!" shouted the luddites from the tunnels below.  "And your shiatty novels, too!"

Reflexively, Arzool grabbed at one of the floating pages from the destroyed novels.  Amazingly, it was in common, and he was able to read-

"Arzool the barbarian stared quizzically at the ancient remains of the ruined city of the Precursors, those fabled ancestors whose civilizations had toppled in the Dark Years-"


Mind = blown
 
2014-08-14 04:55:22 PM  
What does this guy have against 40k?  :(
 
2014-08-14 05:03:51 PM  
But what's a dystopia?  Iain Bank's Culture novels are his attempt at a Utopia- there's no hunger, no disease, no material wants of any kind at all.  (Post scarcity society)   There's also nothing at all you can do that the various Minds or drones can't do far faster and better.  Humans are basically pets, carried along because we're amusing.

Star Wars is a total dystopia, a society run by a few genetic freaks who are above any local laws- and those are the "good" guys.

Meanwhile, many of the post-apocalyptic worlds out there are just bits of wish-fulfillment, where a single person (often named Mary-Sue for some reason) is able to improve the lives of huge numbers of people, as opposed to sitting behind a computer 40 hours a week filling out TPS reports.

/No TPS reports for me today.
//Lots of other admin crap....
 
2014-08-14 05:25:47 PM  
Dystopian Sci-Fi isn't about technology gone wrong.  It's about people gone wrong.
 
2014-08-14 05:38:22 PM  

Mentat: Dystopian Sci-Fi isn't about technology gone wrong.  It's about people gone wrong.


Dude, that is so perfectly profound. Mind = Blown.
 
2014-08-14 05:44:33 PM  
Fearing tech isn't a bad thing. Look at the morons already working on killer robots
 
2014-08-14 05:46:56 PM  
WOOL
 
2014-08-14 05:50:06 PM  
Well, if it's actual science fiction, you've really only got two options: a change in technology causes a problem, or a change in technology solves an existing problem.  Even the latter isn't particularly riveting unless this leads to complications or new problems, e.g. Harry Seldon comes up with a way to predict the future with math and save civilization, but then someone has to actually go out and do it, and it's hard.

This doesn't make it all 'dystopian', this makes it 'literature'.  You have to have a conflict or issue or you have no narrative arc.
 
2014-08-14 06:01:27 PM  
This is why I prefer Ghost in the Shell SAC. It wasn't a "Fear of Technology" factor, as the technology was very much a big part of the way Both sides worked. It was all about People and Ideas, and how those people and those ideas can be both good and bad. And occasionally how the mind of a single person can expand to the point that it's no longer a part of itself anymore.
 
2014-08-14 06:11:39 PM  
Too bad the article doesn't mention any dystopian novels or stories. The internet has completely ruined words,

Dystopias do not have to be bleak or dirty or have squalor or any sense of societal collapse. None of this.

Dystopias have to have only one thing and that is it must present a society as a Utopia but be based on a lie,

There is no squalor in We or A Brave New World or 1984. Heck, A Brave New World is rather nice place to live, you get to shop everyday for new clothes and stuff according to your station.

Bladerunner is not Dystopic. Neuromancer is not Dystopic. Even that recent Matt Damon/Jodie Foster flick that tried to be dystopic wasn't dystopic.

Sorry for the rant, I enjoy true dystopic literature and movies. It is too bad that the blogosphere has not helped the already crappy reporting of things.
 
2014-08-14 06:13:40 PM  
The number of people citing "Windup Girl" or "1984" or "Fahrenheit 451" or "The Giver" or "Idiocracy" as a reason to be against something....  ugh.

That said, we can't help how many people read a fiction book or watch a movie and then change their behavior because of it.  Sometime it's not so bad.  Other times, you get a John Hinckley, Jr.
 
2014-08-14 06:15:36 PM  

moothemagiccow: Fearing tech isn't a bad thing. Look at the morons already working on killer robots


Are you talking about robots that kill people or robots that are awesome? I ask because there is some overlap there
 
2014-08-14 06:22:48 PM  

McGrits: Too bad the article doesn't mention any dystopian novels or stories. The internet has completely ruined words,

Dystopias do not have to be bleak or dirty or have squalor or any sense of societal collapse. None of this.

Dystopias have to have only one thing and that is it must present a society as a Utopia but be based on a lie,

There is no squalor in We or A Brave New World or 1984. Heck, A Brave New World is rather nice place to live, you get to shop everyday for new clothes and stuff according to your station.

Bladerunner is not Dystopic. Neuromancer is not Dystopic. Even that recent Matt Damon/Jodie Foster flick that tried to be dystopic wasn't dystopic.

Sorry for the rant, I enjoy true dystopic literature and movies. It is too bad that the blogosphere has not helped the already crappy reporting of things.


By promising its readers a vigorous and desirable discussion of dystopic writings and failing to deliver, it became dystopic.
 
2014-08-14 06:24:29 PM  

Lochsteppe: McGrits: Too bad the article doesn't mention any dystopian novels or stories. The internet has completely ruined words,

Dystopias do not have to be bleak or dirty or have squalor or any sense of societal collapse. None of this.

Dystopias have to have only one thing and that is it must present a society as a Utopia but be based on a lie,

There is no squalor in We or A Brave New World or 1984. Heck, A Brave New World is rather nice place to live, you get to shop everyday for new clothes and stuff according to your station.

Bladerunner is not Dystopic. Neuromancer is not Dystopic. Even that recent Matt Damon/Jodie Foster flick that tried to be dystopic wasn't dystopic.

Sorry for the rant, I enjoy true dystopic literature and movies. It is too bad that the blogosphere has not helped the already crappy reporting of things.

By promising its readers a vigorous and desirable discussion of dystopic writings and failing to deliver, it became dystopic.


Holy shiat. I just got rain on my wedding day.
 
2014-08-14 06:25:37 PM  

McGrits: Too bad the article doesn't mention any dystopian novels or stories. The internet has completely ruined words,


Yep, what this guy is actually doing is rehashing the should sf die? discussions from a few years ago.
 
2014-08-14 06:27:24 PM  

Mentat: Dystopian Sci-Fi isn't about technology gone wrong.  It's about people gone wrong.


Very well said - and true of all good science fiction (that it's about people and not gadgets).

/Since we're tossing dystopias on the pile, I'd add the Great Burn (Babylon 5, "The Deconstruction of Falling Stars")
 
2014-08-14 06:43:15 PM  

Lochsteppe: McGrits: Too bad the article doesn't mention any dystopian novels or stories. The internet has completely ruined words,

Dystopias do not have to be bleak or dirty or have squalor or any sense of societal collapse. None of this.

Dystopias have to have only one thing and that is it must present a society as a Utopia but be based on a lie,

There is no squalor in We or A Brave New World or 1984. Heck, A Brave New World is rather nice place to live, you get to shop everyday for new clothes and stuff according to your station.

Bladerunner is not Dystopic. Neuromancer is not Dystopic. Even that recent Matt Damon/Jodie Foster flick that tried to be dystopic wasn't dystopic.

Sorry for the rant, I enjoy true dystopic literature and movies. It is too bad that the blogosphere has not helped the already crappy reporting of things.

By promising its readers a vigorous and desirable discussion of dystopic writings and failing to deliver, it became dystopic.


Well, what other topic would it be but dys topic?
 
2014-08-14 06:50:27 PM  

McGrits: Too bad the article doesn't mention any dystopian novels or stories. The internet has completely ruined words,

Dystopias do not have to be bleak or dirty or have squalor or any sense of societal collapse. None of this.

Dystopias have to have only one thing and that is it must present a society as a Utopia but be based on a lie,

There is no squalor in We or A Brave New World or 1984. Heck, A Brave New World is rather nice place to live, you get to shop everyday for new clothes and stuff according to your station.

Bladerunner is not Dystopic. Neuromancer is not Dystopic. Even that recent Matt Damon/Jodie Foster flick that tried to be dystopic wasn't dystopic.

Sorry for the rant, I enjoy true dystopic literature and movies. It is too bad that the blogosphere has not helped the already crappy reporting of things.


Mr Poe would like some words with you.
 
2014-08-14 07:04:53 PM  

DjangoStonereaver: A lot of the best SF has distinct dystopian overtones, so DIAF hipster WIRED writer guy.


Harlan Ellison has already beat up and sued his ass.
 
2014-08-14 07:06:45 PM  

Lochsteppe: Mentat: Dystopian Sci-Fi isn't about technology gone wrong.  It's about people gone wrong.

Very well said - and true of all good science fiction (that it's about people and not gadgets).

/Since we're tossing dystopias on the pile, I'd add the Great Burn (Babylon 5, "The Deconstruction of Falling Stars")


I thought the Great Burn was "this show is a rip-off of DS9".
 
2014-08-14 07:10:21 PM  

McGrits: Too bad the article doesn't mention any dystopian novels or stories. The internet has completely ruined words,

Dystopias do not have to be bleak or dirty or have squalor or any sense of societal collapse. None of this.

Dystopias have to have only one thing and that is it must present a society as a Utopia but be based on a lie,

There is no squalor in We or A Brave New World or 1984. Heck, A Brave New World is rather nice place to live, you get to shop everyday for new clothes and stuff according to your station.

Bladerunner is not Dystopic. Neuromancer is not Dystopic. Even that recent Matt Damon/Jodie Foster flick that tried to be dystopic wasn't dystopic.

Sorry for the rant, I enjoy true dystopic literature and movies. It is too bad that the blogosphere has not helped the already crappy reporting of things.


To be fair, if you took a post-9/11 non-fiction book and sent it back in time 30-40 years, it would have been conside dystopic.
 
2014-08-14 07:12:40 PM  

OtherLittleGuy: Lochsteppe: Mentat: Dystopian Sci-Fi isn't about technology gone wrong.  It's about people gone wrong.

Very well said - and true of all good science fiction (that it's about people and not gadgets).

/Since we're tossing dystopias on the pile, I'd add the Great Burn (Babylon 5, "The Deconstruction of Falling Stars")

I thought the Great Burn was "this show is a rip-off of DS9".


You know that's backwards, right?
JMS pitched B5 to Paramount in 1989 and gave them the series bible, 22 plot summaries, character backgrounds, artwork etc...
If anyone ripped off anything, it was Paramount.
 
2014-08-14 07:20:23 PM  

Some 'Splainin' To Do: Mentat: Dystopian Sci-Fi isn't about technology gone wrong.  It's about people gone wrong.

Dude, that is so perfectly profound. Mind = Blown.


It's what I do.
 
2014-08-14 07:24:44 PM  
In order for fiction to be science fiction, science either needs to cause the problem or solve the problem. If it solves the problem then its probably not fiction. That leaves causing the problem.
 
2014-08-14 07:58:11 PM  

jaybeezey: moothemagiccow: Fearing tech isn't a bad thing. Look at the morons already working on killer robots

Are you talking about robots that kill people or robots that are awesome? I ask because there is some overlap there


There really isn't. http://www.stopkillerrobots.org/
 
2014-08-14 08:05:37 PM  
Two gin-scented tears trickled down the side of Arzool the barbarian's nose. But it was all right, everything was all right, the struggle was finished. He had won the victory over himself. He loved Toraque.
 
2014-08-14 08:45:29 PM  

Arkanaut: toraque: Arzool the barbarian stared quizzically at the ancient remains of the ruined city of the Precursors, those fabled ancestors whose civilizations had toppled in the Dark Years.  All around him, dusty piles of ruined dystopian science fiction novels towered, casting a pall of hopelessness and despair on the crushed skulls and broken skeletons who lay underneath ages of dust.  He hefted his chainsaw axe, hoping to find some last spark of hope among the ruins that could save his people, and saw nothing but dust.

"Arzool!  We must flee!  The luddites draw near!" yelled his companion, Urusla the neo-druid.  Almost at the same instant, a crackle of plasma rifle fire destroyed the stack of novels in front of Arzool, filling the air with random pages of bad writing from bad science fiction books and toppling him over backwards.

"Death is coming for you, techno-wizards!" shouted the luddites from the tunnels below.  "And your shiatty novels, too!"

Reflexively, Arzool grabbed at one of the floating pages from the destroyed novels.  Amazingly, it was in common, and he was able to read-

"Arzool the barbarian stared quizzically at the ancient remains of the ruined city of the Precursors, those fabled ancestors whose civilizations had toppled in the Dark Years-"

Mind = blown


See also "The Longest Story Ever Told", Hugh Downs, Omni, March 1980.
 
2014-08-14 08:55:06 PM  
Yes! Let's stop *all* the negative things because that might be bad!

There's *no* way nothing good could come out of dystopian based sci-fi and it scares people!

Using a theme and telling your own story shouldn't be the focus of writing, you have to work on making people feel happy!

Ignorant asswipe of a blogger needs to diaf or at least take some basic Western Literature courses.
 
2014-08-14 09:05:02 PM  

moothemagiccow: Fearing tech isn't a bad thing. Look at the morons already working on killer robots


To be fair, there are some fools like the ISIS guys who make the case for sending automated death machines after them pretty good.
 
2014-08-14 09:19:27 PM  

mrlewish: Two gin-scented tears trickled down the side of Arzool the barbarian's nose. But it was all right, everything was all right, the struggle was finished. He had won the victory over himself. He loved Toraque.


And the nicest part of all, Toraque -- I look just like you.
 
2014-08-14 10:02:33 PM  
We already live in a dystopia.
What, we can't add a little science fiction to it for some spice?
 
2014-08-14 10:06:53 PM  
Isn't this the plot of Final Fantasy X? With Rikku and the al behd and machina?
 
2014-08-14 10:51:30 PM  
So what they're saying is that it could lead to a Butlerian Jihad. Sorry that story has already been written.
 
2014-08-14 11:18:54 PM  
It seems pretty self-evident that technology can have unintended consequences. Cars led to unwalkable cities, advances in agriculture led to ever-expanding dead zones in the oceans and eventually a bee crisis, hydroelectric dams and more 'efficient' fishing methods cut salmon runs to less than 10% of their former numbers (my brother, who majored in environmental science and worked for FWS, says more like 1%). We are also in the middle of a human-caused mass extinction that is increasing in pace.

More technology is not always the solution. Technology has made life better in most ways but it's not an absolute answer.

There is nothing wrong with dystopian sci-fi. It's fiction. If you want a string of optimistic platitudes about technology, there is that type of sci-fi too.
 
2014-08-15 12:08:19 AM  

Mad_Radhu: moothemagiccow: Fearing tech isn't a bad thing. Look at the morons already working on killer robots

To be fair, there are some fools like the ISIS guys who make the case for sending automated death machines after them pretty good.


Did you not get the memo?
 
2014-08-15 01:17:24 AM  
Your children will be placed in the custody of Carl's Jr.
 
2014-08-15 01:38:14 AM  
But I never get tired of reading and watching Frankenstein over and over and over and over and over again...

Science BAAAAD.
 
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