Wednesday, February 1, 2012

What About POST-Dystopian Novels?

I started working in the lab last week, meaning that I actually have something to do other than check my blog stats all day. (Oh, come on. Don't pretend you don't check them on a daily basis. Or at least weekly?)

I absolutely love my lab. The people are awesome, and I'm finally researching something I'm really passionate about. My P.I. and I have already discussed a potential project involving nerve injury and neuropathic pain.

Of course, real life also means I have a back-log of blog entries I want to write (including three book reviews). So now that I am adjusting to my new schedule, I will try to catch up on posting things. Starting today.

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This post is actually a response to Francesca Zappia's post on dystopia. (This was originally supposed to be a comment to that post, but it was getting long, so I decided to post it here instead.)

Basically, one of her main points is that she doesn't want to spend an entire book reading about someone discovering that -gasp- choice is good!

It isn't realistic for dystopias to present us with an entire society that follows the rules without question. Sure, totalitarian societies do exist in the real world, even benevolent-seeming ones. Think Communism--everyone is equal, everyone eats, education and health care are free. Some governments even sponsor the arts. Obviously, this is all very theoretical, and I'm not sure you could really compare it to a society like that in The Giver, where the government actually does take care of everyone. But my point is that most people living in a totalitarian government are not blind to their society's problems. I don't really have the authority to speak about this (seeing as I've never lived under a totalitarian regime), but life experience tells me that people tend to find reasons to get angry or upset--and when other people make choices for them that they don't like, they will get upset. And I have trouble believing that people living in totalitarian communities follow the rules because they wholeheartedly believe in them--they follow the rules because they're afraid of the consequences of breaking them.

The real world actually seems to have the opposite problem than the one most dystopias present. People DO want freedom, but once the regime topples, they often discover that they don't know what to do with that freedom. This is why it's difficult to establish a stable democracy in a country with centuries of tyrannical leaders. Freedom means making choices, often about things you have no clue about. Choices mean it's a lot easier to screw up. Not only that, but choices sometimes require a lot of courage.

You know what would be a nice change? A POST-dystopian novel. Everyone wants to write about the rebellion, but what about the after-effects? Not only do you have to rebuild an entire world, but you suddenly have to teach an entire population how to navigate their hard-earned freedom.

Beth Revis' A Million Suns sounds like it falls into this category. Are there any other books you can think of?

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