I think I’m ill. Possibly it is brain related. That is why I haven’t had a chance to write much recently. I’ve also been doing 84+ hour work weeks and am at a mental stage of my degree, but that doesn’t normally stop me writing. This is something much more sinister.
It all happened last week when I was idly browsing the interweb and looking at trailers. After watching Dredd and Total Recall again, I thought I would check outsomething different. I came across the trailer for Rec 3 and clicked play.
Then it happened.
My brain said, ‘Oh not another zombie film.’ I know, right? Scary thoughts. Since then I have been in shock. That part of my brain has since been shunned by the other parts. To be fair to my usually awesome brain, there have been a lot of zombies on our screens recently and there are more to come. Hollywood and the TV industry loves to find something popular with the public and then bombard us with it until we are bored. Or in this case, shoot it in the head repeatedly until we are bored. At present the zeitgeist is for zombies. This overlapped and largely replaced the vampire fad, which was a good thing as vampires are shit. For people without mirrors, they are way too vain. In 6 months everyone will be a bit bored of the undead in general and ready for something new. What will that be?
I think it will be dystopia and thanks to the ability to edit these entries, I have never been wrong. Dystopian themes have never really been satisfactorily played out and with today’s special effects and global concerns, it is overdue in my opinion. I love a good dystopian vision, it makes my current work situation seem ok. (Although I could just visit pretty much any factory in a third world country to get that perspective.) We recently had The Hunger Games. I have neither seen it nor read it, but it is on on my kindle in a queue. Soon we’ll have the aforementioned Total Recall and Dredd. Total Recall isn’t strictly dystopian but most people in it seem to be having a pretty shit time which makes it count. The mutants in particular have a bit of a downer (except the triple breasted whore who is always refreshingly feisty and upbeat). Dredd is classic dystopia. If this becomes a full fledged meme then we can probably look out for a whole slew of dystopian remake fun.
I know what you are thinking. Scifiward is never wrong and I want to get ahead and become an expert on dystopia to impress my nerdy friends. What should I read or see? Here we go…
Logan’s Run has been rumoured already, which would be great as it will hopefully lead to the books being released again. The first two Logan’s Run books are superb and are impossible to find. Feel free to send me one to prove me wrong as I have misplaced my copies. The original film is well worth watching and even has a naked Jenny Agutter in it. It takes part in an enclosed world where everyone gets wasted and and takes drugs and shags each other until they are 30. When they are killed. (In the book it’s 21!) Some people decide they aren’t all that keen on dying so run for it. They are hunted down by people like the eponymous Logan.
I’d be surprised if 1984 isn’t redone at some point. It’s famous and has Big Brother in it, so most people have already kind of heard of it. The book is brilliant.
We by Yevgeny Zamyatin, apparently inspired 1984 (and lots of others). This is a society where all the buildings are made of glass and everyone has to wear the same thing. Most guys would probably be ok with this.
Brave New World by Aldous Huxley is another literary classic. In it, everyone is split into a caste system. Alphas are allowed to develop naturally but all the others are almost clonelike and stupid and do menial tasks and factory work – their intelligence purposefully reduced so they are happy. Everyone is taught to consume and dispose in order to keep full employment. Like Logan’s Run, getting off your tits and having meaningless sex is a pretty respected way to spend an afternoon.
Fahrenheit 451. This is my actual copy.
Fahrenheit 451 by the late and lamented Ray Bradbury. Here, books are banned. In the book we learn that this arose from people watching too much TV and media and the book started to die out. So they banned it and now everyone just watches TV and the state rules a docile population. Pretty accurate isn’t it? (Blogs are probably just a shallow media and won’t count.) Bradbury was exploring themes of censorship and the alienation caused by certain media. There is also a pretty good film made of Fahrenheit 451 with Julie Christie.
As a side note, Christian Bale was in a film called Equilibrium which not many people liked but I actually thought was ok. It is pretty much Fahrenheit 451 except emotion is banned and everyone is drugged up.
Children of Men
Another more recent dystopian vision is the awesome Children of Men. I haven’t read the book by P.D. James (which surprises myself) but I will soon. The film is excellent and is nowhere near as famous as it should be. The premise here is that all men are now infertile and no one is having babies any more. Society gets bummed out by this.
There are plenty of other books depending on your style which I can’t be bothered to explain. For example Margaret Atwood wrote the famous Handmaid’s Tale (which I hated) and Neal Stephenson wrote the fairly well known Snowcrash (which I loved).
Movie-wise here are some examples you may have already seen but which I really like:
Robocop, Wall-E, Soylent Green, THX 1138, Rollerball, Aeon Flux, V for Vendetta, 12 Monkeys, Battle Royale, Gattaca, Metropolis, Sleeper.
So there you go. Dystopia! You’ve got to love it. For some reason, it is a much more acceptable face of science fiction. Maybe because everyone sees the stories as allegories for modern politics and freedom and censorship. Maybe it’s because respected usually non-scifi writers have written some dystopian tales. Or maybe because people are just dumb and should be told what to do. Whatever, it is a great sub-genre.
Check back here in a year’s time and I will probably be gloating about how right I was. Either that or I will be ruling all you proles and you will have to praise me all the time anyway. Either is good.