In praise of dystopia…

Surely one of the most attractive aspects of much of dystopian fiction is that, in putting ourselves in the place of the protagonist, we secretly wish that significant numbers of other people will not survive. This is especially true of the zombie holocaust or pandemic type scenario. It’s almost as if the exploration of death and hastened entropy allows nature to reclaim her dominion, and that those who survive are the lucky ones despite their deprivations.

Of course Richard Matheson went a bit too far in his I Am Legend novel. Too few people are no fun. No-one wants to be completely alone, we just want enough of the world to ourselves to create our own kingdom.

I suppose that friends and family (for the most part) would get a free pass. But even then, they’d have to occupy a different part of the world/game map. They can survive, but mustn’t interfere or harm the illusion of survival and self-suffiency.

And there, I suppose is the truth of it. A ruined world is a great fantasy, but is best lived from an armchair isn’t it. I don’t think I could really kill a wild boar to survive, do you? I could make it stop living with a sharp stick or a found gun, but then I’d have no idea of how to actually butcher it.

No, tea and biscuits in the commercial break during The Walking Dead is more my style of survival horror. I suspect it’s the same for all but the most deluded urban survival nuts.

Is that why the prospect of dystopia is so comforting? Because, rather than frighten us about a horrible future, it prompts us to look around at the comfortable present? Naturally I speak of ‘we’ in the cosseted First World. Does dystopian fiction exist or look different in the developing world?

More personal research needed on the subject…

The Exorcist

The original Exorcist movie was a big influence on my formative years; not because I was possessed by a demon, but because I was raised as a Catholic and it raised all sorts of questions about my faith and, let’s face it, I was just a big horror fan. I read William Peter Blatty’s book and then saw a pirated version of the film on VHS with a school friend.

The sequels and prequels have all been disappointing, but I’m hoping that Fox gets this right: