Life

5 Fictional Dystopias That Feel A Little Too Close To Reality

There’s always a bit of truth in a fictional dystopias.

We read books like The Hunger Games and Divergent and think ‘well that’s terrifying, but cool’ then we close the covers and forget about it.

But there’s always a bit of truth in a fictional dystopia: they reflect our fears and warn of possible futures. And we mustn’t be so great at listening because a few famous dystopian fictions seem a little too close for comfort.

1984

Is there any wonder why George Orwell’s 1984 is topping the charts again? We’re living in a post-truth world.

Google knows us better than our friends and family. With President Donald Trump crying “fake news” and companies using metadata to predict pregnancies, there’s no wonder that 1984 is again (New)speaking to readers.

At least maths is holding out and two plus two still equals five. Right?

Fallout Video Game

The Fallout franchise puts us right into dystopia – literally dealing with the consequences of nuclear fallout. In current day Japan, air raid warnings are sounding as North Korea launches test missiles over the country and Trump threatens to rain “fire and fury like the world has never seen” in the region.

But never fear: Gruen The Pitch is battling nuclear war with some well-aimed marketing campaigns.

Anything Written By Margaret Atwood Ever

In an article earlier this year, The New Yorker called Margaret Atwood “the prophet of dystopia”. She tackles post-apocalyptic worlds, misogyny, oppression, corporate greed, environmental degradation in her best-selling novels The Handmaid’s Tale, Oryx And Crake and The Year Of The Flood.

Of course, The Handmaid’s Tale has been the story on everyone’s lips after the release of the television adaption. It’s not so far from the truth with ever-terrible policies on women’s reproductive rights (with abortion still illegal or heavily restricted across most Australian states) and the release of the Respect Now Always research holding a light to sexual assault in Australian universities.

Yet hope springs from none other than Taylor Swift, who won a dollar in her court case against groper David Mueller.

The 100

This year, scientists pulled the plug on two robots after they started talking to each other in their own language – a language we mere humans couldn’t understand.

It’s only a matter of time before (spoiler alert!) AI goes rogue and nukes the Earth. Common sense shows us that humans are destroying the planet. If robots ever surpass us in morality and the ability to organise, we’re doomed.

Until then, Google Home can tell you how to spell words or provide the appropriate playlist on command.

WALL-E

We have robots, virtual reality technology, an unhealthy obsession with Netflix and a catastrophic attitude towards the environment. It’s the perfect recipe for WALL-E come true!

Instead of blasting our junk into space, all we need to do is reverse the equation and convert the Earth into a giant dump while we escape to Mars with our streaming subscriptions.

At least the WALL-E dystopia has a hopeful ending. And we could all use a little more of that these days.

Sarah Gates is an Adelaide-based writer. She is the author of Love Elimination (Harlequin Australia). Sarah teaches writing workshops at high schools, libraries and state writers centres, and has appeared on panels at National Young Writers Festival and Sydney Writers Festival.

(Lead image: WALL-E/Pixar)