Lately I’ve had two ideas about the current popularity of dystopian fiction. The first is actually related to the Tea Party, which seems to be largely composed of precisely the same baby boomers who did NOT oppose the Vietnam War in their youth. Those who DID oppose it (self included) tended to become rather feverish about it, there was a sort of fervor, not only about the war, but about civil rights and women’s rights and so on, in the late sixties and early seventies, which coincided with a wave of great dystopian fiction, such as Do Androids Dream, The Sheep Look Up, The Dispossessed as well as many others. Now that the other half of that generation is in its own fever mode (their hatred of our current president, for example, seems greatly out of proportion, but my own hatred of Nixon was no less intense), dystopian fiction has made a comeback. I don’t think this is terribly surprising, given that popular fiction often reflects the general mood pervading the culture. The parallels interest me, though.
The second thought is that the rise of self-publishing, and especially the successes unleashed its erotica wing, is bound to give rise to a confluence of pornography and dystopia. Why not? We saw that sort of thing obliquely in A Boy and His Dog (the Don Johnson classic) and the culture today is far more explicit than it was a generation ago. I even had my own idea for such a story, though since I couldn’t write a sex scene to save my life I will never write it myself. Something like this: a dying earth, a lottery (more Shirley Jackson than Hunger Games) to escape to the new “off world colonies”, and a test which lottery winners must pass (which may or may not be fraudulent anyway – they might all be summarily executed. No one knows since no one ever returns). The test (and the book) is called “pleasing the goddess” and no one on the dying earth can say exactly what it consists of. Rumors abound. Those rumors are the stories in the book, told Decameron-style. Told by men, since only men are lottery winners. and only men must take the test. All women – who for some reason are in a great shortage (due to birth-sex selection perhaps?) and have already been exported to the new world. Who is the “goddess” (or who are the “goddesses”?) and what must be done to “please” her or them? (Maybe they only want chocolate! How would a man know?) The resulting rumors/escapades range from the filthy to the ridiculous and everything in between. Anyone who reads this and who likes the idea, or any variation of it, or is even just inspired by the basic idea of dystopian erotica, is certainly welcome to take it and run.