Why do people think scifi and dystopian are the same genre?
Okay. Deep breaths. Don’t murderize anyone… today. 😈
Anyway, this is is a discussion I wanted to do a few weeks ago (but then my life went BOOM! You know, like it’s been doing for the past 8 months? 😂) Well, anyway, I totally forgot I’d wanted to do this until I saw a horrible, completely unfortunate, disdainful article someone posted in a Facebook writing group I’m part of. This article was regarding how “depressing scifi is” and how it’s all “dystopians nowadays” and “we’ve come up with this new, happy scifi genre called solarpunk” and “it’s gonna be great!”
So… that part about murderizing people…
Being the controversial person that I am, and being a devoted science fiction writer who is very well acquainted with the genre, I naturally had to read this garbage so that I could rip it into shreds, piece-by-completely-destroyed-piece. 😈 So here we go.
1. Science fiction and dystopia are NOT the same things.
*sigh* This… just amazes me. I understand that dystopians more often than not end up in the science fiction genre because they commonly have futuristic worlds with advanced tech. This world puts them in the scifi genre. The corrupt society (often seen at the beginning of the book as ‘good’), is what makes the story a dystopian.
However! While dystopians are most commonly found in the scifi genre, this is not the ONLY genre dystopians can be found in. More importantly, not all science fiction stories are dystopians! My god! Has no one read The Martian? That’s a perfect example of a scifi that is NOT dystopian. So don’t give me this crap that ALL scifi is depressing because you know what that tells me? That you are not actually reading scifi! So stop pretending like you know everything!
2. The article made more references to sub-genres of scifi than to scifi itself as a whole.
This article that I read (and do not wish to give ANY page views to because it’s an abhorrent, purely false piece of trash), when explaining where it came up with the idea/name of ‘solarpunk’ made references to… SUB-GENRES of scifi! Not science fiction as a whole. Nooooo! It made references to steampunk and cyberpunk (neither of which are dystopians either, thank you very much!) So using scifi as the main antagonist of this article is completely inaccurate! There are DOZENS of other exciting, upbeat, happy science fiction sub-genres out there that the author completely ignored when writing this article.
3. The comps they used for ‘scifi’ were WHOLLY incorrect and the WORST representations they could have used for scifi.
Ooooo. I don’t even know how to go about attacking this one (and yes, I mean attacking because this made me the angriest of all my issues with this article.) There are TONS of dystopian-styled science fiction shows, movies, and books out there that would have been GREAT examples for how ‘depressing’ science fiction is… And they used none of them. No. You know what they used for their example title to show how depressing scifi is?
Are. You. Kidding. Me?!
I understand that Black Mirror has some futuristic tech in it and all the stories are super depressing, dark, and creepy, BUT I would NEVER label Black Mirror’s main genre as science fiction nor would I EVER say Black Mirror is a good representation of the genre. Good God! Black Mirror is a psychological thriller! Anyone who has seen the shown could easily see that if you’re familiar with genres (another reason to believe the author of the article had NO idea what they were talking about!)
4. Solarpunk, as a genre, sounds like the dumbest idea on the planet.
And now we finally get to the ‘amazing alternative to severely depressing, too realistic scifi.’ Solarpunk, according to the article, is framed around the concept of ‘green, renewable energy.’ It’s supposed to be a futuristic world where humans HAVEN’T fucked over society and the world and actually took serious steps to make it better. So in addition to saving the environment, there is no more prejudice or anything like that. Which is fantastic! It’s what most people on the planet are hoping for and working towards, but there is a HUGE flaw with this concept for a fictional story designed to entertain people:
Where is the plot? Where is the tension? What is the point of this story at all?
In case anyone didn’t see the big flags in that last paragraph, let me explain exactly what solarpunk is… a utopian. A society where everyone gets along and has a place and we’ve taken care of our home, is the ideal image of the future. It’s what we all hope for. It’s the ‘perfect system.’ Problem is, in a perfect world, there is nothing wrong. There is nothing bad. As such, there are no consequences for the characters and therefore, no plot.
While solarpunk may sound well and good, it has, in my opinion, no purpose in the realm of fiction. And PLEASE do not tell me: “Oh, well, it could just look like a perfect society and actually be flawed.” Why do I say don’t say that? BECAUSE THAT’S A DYSTOPIAN! And then it’s no longer solarpunk, but the exact thing solarpunk was trying so fruitlessly to get away from!
But what do you think?
Is scifi depressing?
Is solarpunk the new thing?
Leave your thoughts below!
And check out my discussion from last week:
“Whiny A** Teens“