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This guide contains resources relating to the study of dystopian texts.

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What is dystopian fiction?

Dystopian literature is a genre of fictional writing used to explore social and political structures in ‘a dark, nightmare world.' The term dystopia is defined as a society characterised by poverty, squalor or oppression and the theme is most commonly used in science fiction and speculative fiction genres.

The most popular definition of dystopian literature is that it is anti-Utopian. The genre challenges utopia's fundamental assumption of human perfectibility, arguing humanity's inherent flaws negate the possibility of constructing perfect societies. Dystopian literature is deliberately written to frighten the reader. Works of dystopian literature must walk a fine line between evoking the sensations of fear and inducing a sense of futility. By proving a completely perfect society is not possible - showing the awful results of what happens if the goal is social perfection rather than incremental social improvement - dystopia shocks the reader into accepting humanity's flaws as ineradicable and thereby working toward a better society rather than an ideal one.

Questia by Cegage, 2016. 

Image retrieved from http://www.theimaginativeconservative.org/2015/04/imaginative-conservative-guide-dystopian-literature.html

The Giver by Lois Lowry

This haunting story centres on Jonas, who lives in a seemingly ideal, if colourless, world of conformity and contentment. Not until he's given his life assignment as the Receiver of Memory does he begin to understand the dark, complex secrets behind his fragile community.

Goodreads Inc, 2016. 

Newbery winner for "The Giver," Lois Lowry, talks about some aspects of the giver in this clip. She talks about her own feelings about "The Giver," the controversy that the book always brings up and about the need for a "Giver" in society.

The Lost Thing by Shaun Tan

When this small but perfectly formed film won the Oscar for best short animation in February, its Australian creator, Shaun Tan, noted that ''our film is about a creature that nobody pays any attention to, so this is wonderfully ironic''. Co-directed by Tan and Andrew Ruhemann, it is based on Tan's illustrated book about a lonely boy living in a dystopian near-future who befriends a strange thing that looks like a cross between an enormous pot-bellied stove and a sea creature.

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Short Dystopian Stories

Stories of dystopias have become favourites for many readers. Thought provoking tales of surveillance, regimentation, oppression and rebellion have long fascinated and frightened us.

If you’ve read dystopian novels and are looking for more stories, these shorter works are entertaining and interesting.