The concept of dystopia has been around now for over 150 years, arising with the intensification of the Industrial Revolution and the ascendance of the postcolonial nation-state to become a contingent genre of literature, then film, and finally video and computer games.
Starting as a critical jeremiad, dystopian stories have now become the background for everything from powerful SF novels to escapist media to, yep, children’s books. I want to know how it happened; how did a critical sociological/literary construction evolve into an entertainment zeitgeist? At what point did dystopias stop becoming cautionary tales and philosophical debates and become a setting for a first-person shooter game? And why is such desolation so popular and diverting?
Well, a lot of things, but mostly, the future did not turn out as many of the writers had anticipated it would. I mean, the world today is not a place of panoptic surveillance technologies, huge disparities between rich elites and everyone else, and technology developing at a rate so fast that it threatens to overwhelm us. Right?