It’s a hot trend right now, especially in YA markets (never mind all the Hunger Games buzz going on…) but what exactly is dystopian fiction?
If you know what utopian fiction is, think the opposite for starters. (I’ll spotlight utopian in another post.) Dystopians take place in the future, near or far, in a drastically changed world from what we currently know. They take the question “what if?” and really play with it, exploring consequences of either natural, political, social, or technological fall-outs or take-overs. Dystopian falls under the bracket of science-fiction. Pseudo-science creeps in often into these stories as well.
From the 2009 Guide To Literary Agents: “…stories that portray a bleak future world. Stories where the apocalypse occurs, whether in the form of a nuclear bomb, asteroids, disease, or even a political regime, fit this genre.”
And here’s a bang-up breakdown of the characteristics of a dystopian world from readywritethink.org
For another great breakdown, here is a blog post by writer Meagan Spooner that adds even more clarity.
Looking for comparative examples? Here is Goodreads Best Utopian and Dystopian Fiction list.