Monday, March 23, 2020

Not a Dystopia

     I didn't set out to write a work of dystopian fiction.  Those That Wake was originally set in the present and the characters in it were trying to prevent circumstances which would lead to dystopia.  Market forces pushed the time-frame of the story ahead a few years, but I worked to ensure that it retained something I felt was crucial: a focus not just on how the world could be worse, but on how certain powers work to make it worse.
     We are not living in a dystopia, though the Coronavirus certainly invites comparison.  Dystopias are about living in an aftermath, dealing with the world after the disaster has happened.  The world is currently working hard to stop the dystopia from setting in (and we will, though exactly how long that will take is hard to say).  This situation is effective, though, for observing how certain powers are meeting the challenge, and also how people are contending with challenges on our own level.
     Reading is an excellent way to spend some extra time inside.  I find that reading books which allow me to conceptualize and understand the problem we're facing help the most.  Two books that get right to the heart of things are:
     Time out of Joint by Philip K. Dick - For my money, this is Philip K.'s best (no small claim in a field of forty-four novels and one hundred and twenty-one short stories).  While it doesn't appear so at first, this is very much about how higher powers deal with times of crisis.  If you believe the article linked in the second paragraph of this post is about how powerful people try to alter the narrative, or if you believe it's the people who wrote that article that are trying to alter the narrative, Time out of Joint will still resonate for you.
     The Plague by Albert Camus - A work of literature that reads like an existential thriller (at times), it has much to say about how people deal -- and fail to deal -- with the particular sort of trouble we're in now.
     Maybe you prefer books that get you far away from the problem.  I get it.  If so, have a look at this, instead.