1. Killer300
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    Killer300 Active Member

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    Utopias More Controversial than Dystopias?

    Discussion in 'Book Discussion' started by Killer300, Oct 31, 2014.

    I'm not sure where to put this, but since this mostly involves fiction, I'm placing this here for now, but please move this if it is in the wrong place.

    However, on reflection of some things I've written in the past, things I've read, and what I've heard about... dystopias feel safe in a way, especially in comparison to utopias. Utopian settings have felt more controversial, judging by the reaction i've seen them draw, and... well, depending mind you, more thought provoking. On another forum, I followed a timeline(not a story per say), called Reds!, which chronicles a Communist America that... actually works. Really well.

    Now, whether you agree with that vision is another matter, however, I think its worth bringing up how much reaction I've seen to that, and probably continue to just by stating that. It seems, at times, if something working

    Now, I'm not saying Dystopias are, to say the least. However, are they really as controversial anymore?

    Sorry if I say something hard to follow or ridiculous here.:p I want to go more in depth with this, but, I've gotta go right now. I'm really curious about this, and posted it here because I'm curious whether books you've read confirmed or denied this. What made you react more, or dare I say, think more, a dystopia or a utopia?
     
  2. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    For me controversy is only stirred when it examines or challenges someones pov ( political, religious, morals, beliefs etc ), or worse takes a pot-shot at someones pov ( IMHO cheap controversy ). So any book could accomplish this. I think why some of the dystopias have lost their sting is because a lot are attacking too similar fronts ( big bad oppression government ) and the issue is becoming old. So when someone tries a fresh angle ( the goverment we've always assumed is bad is good ) - it's like whoa, it's fresh - it's open for controversy.
     
  3. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    A utopia can be as controversial as a dystopia, depending on one's point of view and the writers intent in writing. In a dystopia story, the arc tends to be about finding a way up and out of it. In a utopian story, the story arc tends to be about discovering at what cost this utopia exists. The former looks for the light, the latter exposes the dark. A dystopia story also tends to portray a situation that pretty much everyone agrees is not good. That's a whole heck of a lot harder in a utopian story. The utopia I would write would include a complete deletion of religion. Clearly not everyone is going to see that as utopian at all.
     
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  4. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    One man's utopia is another man's dystopia. So you could say that they're both equally controversial.
     
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  5. Lemex
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    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

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    H.G. Wells' utopias were never the problem ... what other utopias have there been exactly? I honestly don't know?
     
  6. Shadowfax
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    Shadowfax Contributing Member Contributor

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    Sir Thomas More coined the word for his book in 1516, although Plato's "Republic" was an earlier shot at the idea.
     
  7. Lemex
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    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

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    I forgot about the Sir Thomas Moore book I must admit, but that book flat out admits Utopia is not real in the world of the narrative, and that book was more a thinly-veiled philosophy book rather than fiction.
     
  8. Killer300
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    Killer300 Active Member

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    See, I think its that, in a sense, we agree on what sucks, as no one really likes a big oppressive state, its how one gets there that's controversial. And for that matter, a future dominated by corporations, depending.

    However, Utopias? Not so much. Keep in mind, I don't even mean a perfect society, per say, as I consider the society depicted in the Culture series, which I've read recently, to be a utopia. For that matter, the Federation, in the inner territories, could perhaps be considered utopian, because of things like implied post-scarcity.
     
  9. A.M.P.
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    A.M.P. People Buy My Books for the Bio Photo Supporter Contributor

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    I think utopias are simply harder to believe and at the same time they describe something ideal.
    Typically, the utopias are only considered dystopias by the reader and the protagonists and are an example of an end-game philosophy or of an extreme idealogy.
    Take Ayn Rand's Communism America, is still being talked about today and many socio-economical commentators/politicians believe her fears have come true.
    Other novels show different extremes and make an example of how messed up those systems can become and that's why they're controversial.
    They show real possibilities and bring to light new viewpoints on topics mostly discussed in dusty libraries by scholars resting in leather armchairs while sipping brandy.
     
  10. Lemex
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    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

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    Oh god, please don't say this is actually true. Please? This is a joke, right?
     
  11. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    Utopia is often used as a disparaging term, to apply to any situation that somebody thinks might be bettered. It was used a lot by the No Campaign here in Scotland, in the run-up to the referendum to attack the SNP and the Yes Campaign ...and is still being used against the SNP—despite the dystopian mess the Scottish Labour Party has become since the vote. The SNP have 'visions of Utopia,' according to their opponents. This word, used in that context, implies a lack of realism, and a head-in-the-clouds attitude. Being an independent country like so many others on the planet—terribly unrealistic and foolish idea, isn't it. Ach well, never mind. Vote over. Majority caved.

    Maybe negativity about Utopia has something to do with disappointments as well as controversy about what constitutes a utopia. The word is often coupled with 'dream', while dystopia is often coupled with 'nightmare.' Utopian dream. Dystopian nightmare.

    We are disappointed if our dreams don't come true.
    We are relieved to wake up and discover that our nightmares didn't actually happen.
     
  12. A.M.P.
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    Nope, our social democracy is a real thing. You hear about it all the time and most don't even realize it.
    If you read loads of politics or listen to it, you'll see this come up with the socio-critics.
     
  13. Lemex
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    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

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    I don't understand, are you saying you think we are now close to the world of Atlas Shrugged or are you saying only a few foolish politicians say it is?

    Because I have to say, even not counting the odd, art-deco style of the novel, the 'Socialist' government of Atlas Shrugged is not likely to happen. It is a rather cartoonish caricature too. When was the last time the government tried to step in to prevent a company from producing too much, and drown the market like the government did with Raerden Metal? (I can't remember if I've spelled Hank's name right).
     
  14. A.M.P.
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    Rearden, I think.
    And I'm not saying it is up to that extreme or that we will even fully go toward that direction, I'm just saying small bits of it are there and it freaks out some people, that's all.
     
  15. Lemex
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    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

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    Yeah, I think that was inherent in Rand's program. I suppose it's understandable for her, with her downright horrible experiences with the Bolshevik repressions and purges in Russia, but it seems they forever tainted her view of any altruist motivated actions. Her problem is she couldn't set apart her nightmare from reality - we should take her warning about Socialism in the US with a massive grain of salt. It wasn't her fault but she was a very damaged person.
     
  16. J Faceless
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    J Faceless Active Member

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    I think H.G Wells did utopia the best. For it to exist there is no way it can meet the needs of all its citizens. As Spock said the needs of the many out weigh the needs of the few. There will be a few people who don't fit into the perfect world and seeing the utopia through their eyes is always interesting.
    As far as utopias being controversial it can be because the author is saying something about a certain political or religious stance.
     
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  17. Devlin Blake
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    The thing is you can't be fair to everyone, so a true Utopia is impossible.

    For example, in my state, a service dog is a person, it can go anywhere a person can go, (including a no pet hotel) and no one needs to be informed.

    I have a good friend who is asthmatic, and VERY allergic to dogs. If she stays in a room where a dog was, she has an asthma attack could end up in the hospital. However, under the law, she could run into a service dog anywhere at anytime, even in no pet hotel.

    So who gets protected? One of these two is going to loose. You simply can't make a dog free world and a service dog friendly world. That's why Utopia is so controversial. Someone HAS to loose.
     
  18. Poet of Gore
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    anyone who tries to sell you a utopia in this world is your enemy and will be a totalitarian.
    what are utopias? perfect places where no one gets hurt.
    What would a place like this need? the removal of free will.
    anything that looks like a utopia from outside will become a dystopia once inside
     
  19. Gigi_GNR
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    Gigi_GNR Guys, come on. WAFFLE-O. Contributor

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    +1 on the religious part, both as a yes from me and as an illustration of how utopias are controversial. Dystopias can be controversial because they show what writers consider to be awful in the world; utopias can be controversial because they show what writers think should be deleted for the world to work better.
     
  20. James Random
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    Well on my part, I don't think there is any such thing as a Utopia, nor could there ever be one. Utopia applies a static state, having reached a pinnacle of perfection. The trouble with this is that if you designed, for example, the 'perfect' computer, it would still be superceded eventually by a better one. That applies to everything, whatever you develop, a better one can always be developed eventually.
     
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  21. Gigi_GNR
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    Gigi_GNR Guys, come on. WAFFLE-O. Contributor

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    That's true. I think a more true-to-life definition of utopia would be a world that's consistently getting better while being very much elevated from "the way things used to be."
     
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  22. Kingtype
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    Kingtype Always writing or thinking things XD Staff Role Play Moderator Contributor

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    Ha!!

    You're all wrong hahahahah

    My creation is the most controversial

    I call it Midtopia!!!!

    Ya know

    Is not a okay place

    Not really or really good its.....so...so ya know in the middle :p
     
  23. KaTrian
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    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Oh yes, or it just kind of falls in between. Like We, which could be seen quite utopian, although it's really just a mockery of it. Many of the characters considered it utopian as well, apart from the few "rebels" who wanted to upend the system. Their society wasn't nearly as fucked up as that of 1984 or my ultimate fuel-for-nightmares novel, Handmaid's Tale.
     
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  24. Glasswindows
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    Remember to re-write the history of human kind. I feel it's a bit too much. It goes on the side of fantasy.
     
  25. Frazen
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    I agree with you. Utopias are much more controversial or have more potential to be controversial. Having read Herland, a feminist utopian novel, and the reviews and articles on that, I find it quite hard to write a utopian novel that would not become controversial in the later decades, if not at the moment. It's because people have quite different views of what sounds perfect to people. Dystopias are less controversial because you are not introducing it as something perfect. Man is usually more talented to create something imperfect than perfect, and that seems more natural.
     

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