[LMB] 9 Women Who Shaped Science Fiction

Gwynne Powell gwynnepowell at hotmail.com
Fri Sep 20 06:52:55 BST 2013

> From: Howard Brazee howard at brazee.net

> On Sep 19, 2013, at 6:53 AM, BJ van Look <vanlook at yahoo.com> wrote:
> > Harry Potter as dystopian? 
> > *blink blink*
> > I find this fascinating, Howard. What elements did you find dystopian?

> It has permanent prisons for beings who are being tortured.   It has slavery.   The good guys have to hide from the world.   It has other underclass races.

But all of those things are changing. We are shown a world that
goes through bad times, but by the end it's healing and there are
plenty of improvements. 

It needs the permanent prisons for dangerous and powerful people - 
at least they try to limit the evil done. And it's a better alternative than
a death penalty. The torment came from the dementors, who are 
sorted out by the end. 

The slavery is an interesting situation - the house elves seem to have a
whole society of their own independent of the humans. And many of 
them vigorously resist being freed. They also seem to have a lot of 
freedom despite their roles - we see several house elves who are 
actively opposing their 'masters'. 

The other underclass races seem to have their own societies just how
they want them. Goblins have some serious power, and I have a feeling
they control the economy of the wizard world way more than anyone 
realises, and have more going on as well. Centaurs want to be left
alone, and are pretty determined to enforce that. Most of the other
races are only 'underclass' from a human POV, and don't regard themselves
as less in any way. 

For most situations, there's several ways to interpret it all, and the 
wizard world isn't always aware of everything that's going on. Humans
don't know much about the other races, and don't have as much 
power or control as they think.

As for dystopian, I can't see it. The story arc goes through dark 
times and challenges, but ends up at a positive and very happy point. 
Plus they seem to have learned from some of their mistakes, and
are trying to improve. By the end, it's a world where you could make
a good life.

For me, dystopian stories are endlessly and hopelessly gloomy.
There's no way to win, there's often little chance to survive. And
no attraction to imagine being there. When I started reading SF
as a child there were a lot of dystopian stories around, and the 
expectation of The Bomb that would blast society away, leaving
us in post-apocalyptic misery.  At age eleven I decided that I didn't
want to survive it, and have to live in that world. 

I've avoided dystopian stories ever since. I need some thread of 
hope. Some light on the horizon. Some kind of victory, to make
the time I spend reading that story worth while. 

Gwynne (I love the darkness, but you need light to appreciate it.)


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