Accidental Dystopias: Apathy and Happenstance in Critical Dystopian Literature
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It is often the case that dystopian narratives are born out of a reaction against social, national, technological, or environmental trends as observed by the author of the text. In these cases, the dystopia depicted is frequently a warning against the direction towards which the author perceives his/her world to be headed. This is not the case with all dystopia, however, as more recent “critical dystopias,” as described by Tom Moylan in Scraps of the Untainted Sky, seem to take a more Utopian stance in their creation. Rather than depicting the ends to which we are headed, they posit a “critical utopia,” – one which presents a utopia that is not quite perfect and thus simultaneously acts as a criticism of its own genre – where the utopian tendency becomes the uncontrollable force that leads to dystopia (Sargent 9). It is from these types of dystopias that I take the term accidental dystopia, or those worlds which arise from seemingly altruistic, yet misguided, attempts to reshape the world towards the end of an egalitarian, utopic Eden.