[GUEST POST] Peter Liney on The Age of Dystopia


Peter Liney was born in, what Thomas Hardy called, ‘Melchester’, Wiltshire, UK, though he has spent a good deal of his life travelling, with Australia and Thailand acting as his second home for ten and two years respectively. His list of occupations is embarrassingly long, everything from teaching English to Italian football managers and Japanese pop stars to acting, selling sewing machines in the Australian Outback, and two days as a trainee stuntman (he gave up, thought it was far too dangerous). He loves photography, music – both listening to and playing, and is a great movie lover. Which is possibly why he has been accused of not writing books at all, but ‘movies in a book form’. If he wasn’t a writer, he would’ve loved to have been an opera singer, so we should all be grateful for his writing success.

THE DETAINEE, published by Jo Fletcher Books, is available in paperback in the UK on July 3. Also on that date, the second part of the trilogy, INTO THE FIRE, is released in hardback.

The Age of Dystopia

by Peter Liney

It’s strange, when I started to write THE DETAINEE TRILOGY it never occurred to me for one moment that I was breaking the mould in any way. And oddly, when the first book came out in hardback last year in the UK, it didn’t seem to occur to any of the reviewers either, nor indeed, anyone I know who read it. But when it was published in the US, well, that was a very different reaction altogether. Suddenly I was fielding questions like, ‘What was it that persuaded you to write a dystopian story not for a YA audience?’ and ‘Do you think this is the beginning of a trend for dystopia for old folks?’ As if I’d somehow cunningly spotted a lucrative gap in the market.
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[GUEST POST] Gerry Canavan on Dystopia, Anti-Utopia, and the End of the World

Gerry Canavan is an assistant professor in the English department at Marquette University, teaching 20th and 21st century literature. His current research projects include Science Fiction and Totality and Modern Masters of Science Fiction: Octavia E. Butler, as well as co-editing The Cambridge Companion to American Science Fiction. His edited collection of critical essays, Green Planets: Ecology and Science Fiction, is out now from Wesleyan University Press. You can follow Gerry on Twitter as @GerryCanavan.

Dystopia, Anti-Utopia, and the End of the World

by Gerry Canavan

One of my great frustrations as a teacher of science fiction is the imprecision with which we use the word “dystopia.” We typically speak as if “dystopia” is the negation of utopia, but this is not quite right. Dystopian speculation more properly describes the opposite of utopia: utopia is the good place (eu-topia) that is not a place (ou-topia), while dystopia is the bad place (dys-topia). But the bad place of the dystopia still has something to teach us: it is the warning of the bad times that will come if we refuse to act, the reflection of our own bad times that we must work to change. This is why the typical plot of a dystopian narrative is actually pretty hopeful: the story of the heroic revolution that overthrows a corrupt regime, or the time traveler who changes history to prevent it, or the story of how our heroes might run fast enough and far enough to break out of the confinement of the nightmare city altogether and escape into the free and open country outside.
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Stephanie Saulter writes what she likes to think is literary science fiction. Born in Jamaica, she studied at MIT and spent fifteen years in the United States before moving to the United Kingdom in 2003. She is the author of the ®Evolution trilogy; her first novel, Gemsigns, was published in the UK in 2013 and will be launched in the US in May 2014. Its sequel, Binary, will be released in the UK in April. Stephanie blogs unpredictably at stephaniesaulter.com and tweets only slightly more reliably as @scriptopus. She lives in London.

I Don’t Do Dystopia, But No One’s Noticed

by Stephanie Saulter

When my first novel, Gemsigns, was released in the UK a year ago, I was mostly delighted by the reception it got. Reviewers heaped praise on the book, calling it ‘smart’, ‘tightly controlled and paced’, ‘compelling’ and the like. But there was something else it was frequently called that I simply couldn’t understand.

It was called a dystopia.
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Anne Charnock‘s first novel A Calculated Life (47North) is one of seven nominated works for the Philip K. Dick Award 2013. It was originally self-published. Anne’s journalism has appeared in The Guardian, New Scientist, International Herald Tribune, and Geographical. She was educated at the University of East Anglia, where she studied environmental sciences, and at the Manchester School of Art. She travelled widely as a freelance foreign correspondent and spent a year overlanding through Egypt, Sudan and Kenya. In her fine art practice, she tried to answer the questions, What is it to be human? What is it to be a machine? Ultimately she decided to write fiction as another route to finding answers.

Dystopian Influences on the Philip K. Dick Nominated A CALCULATED LIFE

by Anne Charnock

Among the books I’ve read and films I’ve watched, I can pinpoint one dystopian encounter that set the course for much of my reading and writing life. I guess I was around 10 years old when I watched the film animation of George Orwell’s satirical story, Animal Farm. I doubt I knew the word ‘satire’ at the time but my child’s mind recognised this film as a story about bullying. And I was terrified!
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Into the Black: Reclaiming Dystopian Fiction

There’s not doubt about it: Dystopian fiction is a hot literary commodity. In fact, dystopian literature seems to have supplanted paranormal romance as the new “It” genre—bookshelves, both virtual and brick-and-mortar, are awash with sexy heroines who, despite total societal collapse, still managed to apply makeup. Yet, in this rush to realize Hunger Games levels of fame and fortune, publishers and their media brethren have sanitized the genre, stripping away the grit and existential horror that defines classic dystopia.
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SF Tidbits for 9/5/09

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