First of all, let me say that many utopian novels end up as dystopian novels. Even in “1984” it was supposed to be good for society to be watched. That way they could be protected. So it was with “Minority Report”. Philip K. Dick wrote a lot of books based on the idea that society was trying to help things get better. Another book I recall, although an older title, is Robert Silverberg’s “The World Inside”, which was one of my early introductions to the utopian/dystopian novel. One of my favorite movies, (and my novel “Cathedral of Dreams” has been compared to it, although Cathedral is much different) is “Equilibrium”.
The thing I like about these types of stories is that they stretch the boundaries of what is already happening. We live in a world of limitations and freedoms, but it’s difficult to say which is which. What is a limitation to one person, may be a freedom to another. For example, one person may find it limiting to be outside, spending their days in a house or building, yet for others, the freedom to move around in a familiar place without concern over the dangers of the outside world is a pleasant experience.
There are many forms of limitation. Even the Internet, and especially social media, has a certain number of conduct rules. Individuals can be ridiculed for breaking them, and can even be removed from a social media site if they break the rules. Is a site truly social if you have to watch what you say and who you say it too? Is it truly social if you continually need to be sure that you are tactful and kind? I’m not saying that being tactful or kind is wrong, but when it is a prerequisite to the conversation, how can you feel free to express your true feelings about a subject. Are we forever watching what we say? What we do? And how we talk with others?
These are the types of subjects that I love to tackle in fiction. For example, in my novel “Giver of Gifts” I am questioning whether a pending death is a bad thing or a good one dependent on the circumstances of how it helps the people to evolve. In “Wolf’s Rite” I’m exploring the effects of a spiritual breakthrough on a rude and obnoxious person. In “Sweet Song” I question the whole concept of race. As mentioned above, “Cathedral of Dreams” questions the whole idea of what is utopian and what is dystopian. Who are we to say, except for how we feel as individuals?
Novels are the doorway into understanding how we feel, what we believe, and into questioning those feelings and beliefs. Evaluating how we live, and how we’re asked to live, while experiencing huge leaps in technology is essential today. The world changes quickly, and we believe we have to fit into it perfectly, but perhaps that’s not the truth. As intelligent beings, I believe we have to continually question our freedoms and limitations, and be sure that we are living the life that is best for us.
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