THE BLOG
10/10/2011 11:57 am ET | Updated Dec 07, 2011

Is the Popularity of Dystopian Novels Finally Fading?

Publishing, like all industries, is susceptible to trends and the last few years have seen the rising popularity of dystopian novels. The Hunger Games, The Chemical Garden Trilogy, Uglies and The Year of the Flood are just some examples of successful titles published in the past few years that seem to reflect the negative stories that have dominated headlines.

In between the grim news, we've started to see a swing in the pendulum of science fiction, with new titles that explore the opposite end of the spectrum beginning to emerge. Called Green Sci Fi, this genre proposes an optimistic view of humanity's capacity to reinvent rather than collapse.

In this year's Glide by Bill Gourgey, the author imagines a post-apocalyptic world that is constructed by positive uses for technology. Gourgey hopes to kindle -- or rekindle -- the belief in humanity's endless capacity to innovate ourselves out of the darker places our desire and self-interest sometimes lead us and is portrayed in traditional dystopian or science fiction. "That optimism" he says, "is the essence of Green Sci Fi, a genre where science is the new magic, both awe‐inspiring and perilous."

On micro funding platform KickStarter, author Starhawk's best-selling Green Sci Fi novel The Fifth Sacred Thing, set not too far away in 2048, has recently exceeded its funding goal and will be adapted into a film, bringing the positive themes of the story to a twenty-first century audience.

Through narrative, writers of Green Sci Fi encourage the imagination of a not too distant future where technologies have solved issues ranging from ecological to sociological. Rather than paint a society where people must die before a certain age or are reduced to mechanistic repopulation tools, the genre is almost anti-apocalyptic in its uplifting portrayal of society.

That's not to say that the futures rendered in Green Sci Fi are farfetched utopias either. Glide's protagonist reflects on the new future; "the planet has had a chance to heal itself...[and] we seem to have recaptured some of our flagging joie de vivre." Helping us to recapture our collective joy of life may just be the most appealing message of this emerging genre.

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