Lately, it seems like I’m tripping over dystopias everywhere.
Earlier this week, I ran across the trailer for an upcoming game from Bethesda, makers of the Elder Scrolls games (Skyrim, Oblivion, etc.) Since I’ve enjoyed the Elder Scrolls games since the late 90s (yes, I’m old), I was excited to see something that looked like it might have a steampunk vibe from the developer.
Dishonored does indeed have some steampunk-y elements (OK, maybe technically dieselpunk. Or “voltpunk” since there’s obviously electricity?) It looks like a dark blend of Assassin’s Creed and Bioshock. It’s also clearly a dystopian environment.
I also just read the first book in The Hunger Games series. The Man has read the whole trilogy, and we saw the movie almost as soon as it came out. Panem, the fictional country that the books are set in, is definitely a dystopia. A nation where the government demands an annual tribute of children to fight to the death as a continual reminder not to disobey? Yep. That’s a dystopia all right.
All of which makes me wonder: what’s so attractive about dystopia? In the midst of a recession, are people turning to dystopian fiction in greater numbers as a sort of weird encouragement?
“Well, the economy is still depressingly tanked, but by God, at least nobody’s making me send my kid to ‘WIPEOUT: DEAD KIDS EDITION.'”
Is it a sign that this is the direction people really think things are heading? Are they trying to prepare themselves?
Or is it just that there’s some really well-crafted dystopian fiction out right now? Am I seeing a cultural trend where there isn’t one?
On a (much) lighter note, the kids and I are now officially addicted to Nickelodeon’s The Legend of Korra, a successor to their excellent series Avatar: The Last Airbender. It almost (but not quite) makes up for the horrible, awful, jaw-droppingly bad live action film. The Legend of Korra is set about 70 years after TLA. Aang has died, and a new avatar has taken his place.
The setting is the same pan-Asian alternate world, which is now looking, dare I say it, YES I DO DARE, decidedly steampunk. From the cogs in the new opening graphics, to the tin lizzies chugging around the streets, to the early industrialized backdrops… yes, this is definitely Steampunk Avatar.
You’ve got your steampunk in my Avatar! No, you’ve got your Avatar in my steampunk! Oh, who cares? It’s awesome either way.
So, to the comments! Do you do dystopia too? What’s up with that? Any significant stuff I missed?