A Closer Look At Dystopian Fiction


January feels like such a stark month. The trees have shed their last leaves. The grey skies and fine powdering of snow on the ground make everything seem so harsh.
Sort of like the landscape of a post-apocalyptic or dystopian world…But, what exactly is dystopian fiction?
Dystopian Fiction is one of the older genres of speculative fiction. It dates back to Jonathan Swift's “Gulliver's Travels”, H.G. Wells' “The Time Machine”, and Franz Kafka's “The Trial”. Like a lot of classical fiction, it is used to explore political and social issues in the guise of a story. What looks like a fascinating story on the surface often turns out to be a scathing criticism or brutally honest examination of current issues.

  • A sneaking (and correct) suspicion that something is wrong with what appears to be a perfect society.
  • The feeling of being trapped and longing to escape the confines of their society.
  • A non-conformist attitude, a rule-breaker, which sets them at odds with society and those in control.
  • A tendency to question the status quo, finding the existing systems (political, religious, social, etc.) flawed.

For adult dystopian fiction, the protagonist is typically in their 20s, 30s, or even older. They will face similar issues to the Young Adult protagonist, but their stories typically include deeper societal, philosophical, and moral quandaries.
Adult dystopian fiction is typically used to shine a light on the modern social or political structure, while young adult dystopian fiction is more of a vehicle to showcase the journey of a young, strong protagonist in a society plagued by issues common to the world they are growing in.
The Dystopian Antagonist
There are many antagonists used in dystopian fiction, each intended to showcase a different aspect of the problem being criticized. For example:
The figurehead is a character who is secretly being manipulated from behind the scenes by the bureaucrats, organization, or entity which controls the world...


Read the entire article in the February 2018 issue of InD'Tale magazine.

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