The Tundra Tastemonger:
an online newspaper of fiction and fantasy
Published in the Vaporsphere -- always free, and always readable
Volume One, Number One
40-part weekly serialization of POLAR CITY RED, a novel by Jim Laughter
Beginning May 1, 2012
NOTES: Since fictional dystopias are often set in a future projected virtual time and/or space involving technological innovations taht are not accessible in actual present reality, dystopian fiction is often classified generically as science fiction, a subgenre of speculative fiction.
Because a fictional universe has to be constructed, a selectively told backstory is often introduced early in the narrative. This results in a shift in emphasis of control, from previous systems of central government to a smaller government run by a polar city administration, for example; and from previous social norms to a changed society and new (and often disturbing) social norms, as will be seen in Jim Laughter's POLAR CITY RED (2012) -- a novel set in 2080.
Because dystopian literature typically depicts events that take place in the future, it often features technology more advanced than that of contemporary society.
Dystopias seldom feature an outsider as the protagonist. While such a character would more clearly understand the nature of the society, based on comparison to his society, the knowledge of the outside culture subverts the power of the dystopia.
The story usually centers on a protagonist who questions the society, often feeling intuitively that something is terribly wrong. The hero comes to believe that escape or even overturning the social order is possible and decides to act at the risk of life and limb; this may appear as irrational even to him or her, but he or she still acts. The hero's point of view usually clashes with the others' perception, that concepts of utopia and dystopia are tied to each other and the only difference between them lies on a matter of opinion.
There is usually a group of people somewhere in the society who are not under the complete control of the situation, and in whom the hero of the novel usually puts his or her hope, although often he or she still fails to change anything. In Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four they are the "proles" (Latin for "offspring", from which "proletariat" is derived), in Huxley's Brave New World they are the people on the reservation, and in We by Zamyatin they are the people outside the walls of the One State. In Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury, they are the "book people" past the river and outside the city. In POLAR CITY RED, readers find out who runs the city and who the mauraders are.
A story is often (but not always) unresolved even if the hero manages to escape or destroy the dystopia. That is, the narrative may deal with individuals in a dystopian society who are unsatisfied, and may rebel, but ultimately fail to change anything. Sometimes they themselves end up changed to conform to the society's norms. This narrative arc to a sense of hopelessness can be found in such classic dystopian works as Nineteen Eighty-Four. It contrasts with much fiction of the future, in which a hero succeeds in resolving conflicts or otherwise changes things for the better.
Climate dystopias is a new genre of science fiction, or climate fiction, cli-fi, as it has been dubbed. POLAR CITY RED is one of the first climate dystopias to be set in a polar city environment in the north, in this case, ALASKA in the year 2080.