I reviewed the Private Sector. I did a Book Spotlight on World-Mart. I’ve put my opinion that Private Sector is better than 1984 out there. I think it’s safe to say that I’m an admirer of Leigh M. Lane’s writing. Now I present to you a piece she did on Why Write Dystopian. Thanks, Leigh!!
Editor’s Note: This should have went out last month. I don’t know what happened. (I’ve had several problems with posts ‘missing schedule’ – anyone else?) I thought that it had posted. Obviously it had not. So, my apologies both to Leigh M. Lane for not putting this out when I said I would, as well as my apologies to you guys for the delay in getting a really good article on writing Dystopian out to you!
Why Write Dystopian?
by Leigh M. Lane
Dystopian literature has made a recent comeback; however, the majority of that comeback has been composed of YA lit, which often follows a variation of the story arc used by traditional dystopian novelists such as Wells and Orwell. I usually follow the more traditional arc, which means many of my novels have more uncertain, sometimes even bleak, endings. People have asked me why I choose to take many of my stories to such dark places, especially in such hectic and uncertain times such as these, and I usually offer one or more of a few different reasons.
1) I’ve been quoted while observing, “We’ve become a society that reads primarily to escape as opposed one that reads to think,” and I’d like to balance the difference a little between the two.
The traditional dystopia works as a cautionary tale, making a statement about current issues or events that could potentially have a catastrophic impact on social, economic, or political fronts. Using Orwell’s 1984 as an example, the author (a socialist himself) was warning his country (England) about the dangers of socialism left unchecked (communism and fascism). Big Brother, the Thought Police, and all the other losses of civil liberties Orwell included in the novel were embodiments of his own personal fears related to the political trends of his time. It, like most other traditional dystopian works, his is a tale of the prices we pay for complacency.
2) Obviously, I’m a fan of the sub-genre. My favorite author, Kurt Vonnegut, wrote dystopian literature. The best homage I can pay to him and others is to continue the literary tradition they contributed to so significantly.
I took Vonnegut’s death hard. I started writing my first dystopian novel about a year or two before Vonnegut died, but the book fell to the back burner quickly. When he died, I dropped my current project and started writing it, World-Mart (which The Private Sector prequels), from scratch—my way of grieving a beloved author’s passing. I named one of the main characters Kurt, and I think anyone who’s read Vonnegut’s Cat’s Cradle will get both the homage and the message I embedded in his fate.
One of the aspects I respect so much about the traditional dystopia is its typically (for the lack of a better term) “Twilight Zone” ending. Sometimes the ending is left open to interpretation, inviting the reader to really think about the material. Sometimes the story ends with a glimmer of hope, but just a glimmer. Sometimes the good guy just doesn’t win—because the future we’ve fostered has gone too far to recover. Dystopian literature can say so much, foretelling possibilities that are too scary to ignore.
3) When, other than in times such as these, might be the best time to tackle our social woes?
Escapism does rule right now, so dark and deep is definitely not what the smartest gambler would be betting all the chips on. Perhaps the best times to write traditional dystopian literature are not always the most popular times to read traditional dystopian literature. Maybe its target audience is currently too shell-shocked over ISIS and public toilets to take on the ugliness that currently lies in all our front yards. It’s very possible. Or, maybe we’ve become so complacent that many just don’t care to be bothered.
It’s not my problem…. I don’t have the time/money/energy to make a difference anywhere…. Enough people care about the causes I believe in, and I’m just one more person…. I don’t want to get involved….
Most of us are guilty of these. Life moves so quickly these days. No one has the time for a whole lot, and we’re bombarded by advertisements telling us everything from what we should think to what phone we should be using to which newfangled foods we should be consuming. Society is being groomed not to think, under constant distraction by sleight-of-hand media, and we all buy into it to one degree or another.
Amidst all this, it’s the dystopian writer’s job to give society a little poke and tell all who will listen, “Hey, maybe you should take a look at this.”
So hey, maybe you should take a look at this:
About The Private Sector:
In this loose World-Mart prequel, the world of corporate greed runs rampant after the government’s dissolution has left police, fire, and all other services in the hands of privatized businesses and wealthy investors.
John and Dianne Irwin are doing everything they can to shield their son, Junior, from the world’s ever-expanding corruption. Dianne’s junkie sister and her cluelessly entitled parents don’t help. Even more, Dianne’s livelihood as a painter has been deemed obsolete, and the tighter money gets, the closer they find themselves a mere tragedy or illness away from ruin.
With the class divide ever widening, debtor prisons for the lower and middle classes overflowing, disease ravaging the country, and resources running dry, the Irwins must survive the battleground generated by those who would crush the lower classes for their own gain and those who’ve waged a war against them, against a corrupt system ruled by The Private Sector.
“In the tradition of 1984, Leigh M. Lane delivers a terrifying vision of the future—a horrific future that may not be so distant after all….” —Lisa Mannetti, Stoker Award-winning author of The Gentling Box and Deathwatch
“The Private Sector is proof positive that horror literature is alive, well and has something to say. Leigh M. Lane has created a cautionary and gripping dystopian tale that exposes the reader to the horrific results of corporate greed run amok. It is a nightmarish vision of the future that is as compelling as it is unsettling. If you enjoy horror fiction with intelligence and profound insights into human nature, then this is a book for you.” —Taylor Grant, Bram Stoker Award-nominated author of The Dark at the End of the Tunnel
Author bio and links:
In addition to writing dark speculative fiction for over twenty-five years, Leigh M. Lane has dabbled in fine arts, earned a black belt in karate, and sung lead and backup vocals for bands ranging from classic rock to the blues. She currently lives in the dusty outskirts of Sin City with her husband, an editor and educator, and one very spoiled cat.
For more information about all of her works, visit her website at http://www.cerebralwriter.com.
You’ve summed up precisely why I love to read dystopian literature; they’re the same reasons you write them. 😉
I also think that fiction, this genre in particular, is great for taking a good, hard look at the chaotic things happening around us. It allows us to be immersed in the issues without being blinded by our existing prejudices.
Thanks for stopping by Jeanette. I agree with you!