Good morning All. Today I am delighted to be part of the blog tour for When the Floods Came by Clare Morrall. This is a part dystopian world where Britain is prone to flooding and was ravaged by a violent virus twenty years ago. With very few survivors and many of them infertile, children are the only hope for the future, but they are so rare. As part of the blog tour, Clare tells us why she thinks dystopian literature is so popular at the moment. As always don't forget to follow along the tour.
Why dystopian literature is so popular/why write a dystopian and how to make it stand out from other stories out there?
Nineteen Eighty-four, The Handmaid’s Tale, Bladerunner, Mad Max – we hear the names and shudder. Worlds that might be, worst possible scenarios (although not quite, since there are still characters who are alive), the way we’re all heading if we don’t get a grip (and let’s face it, it’s not looking good right now). So do we see these disasters as a reasonable possibility, do they make us count our blessings, or do we accept the warnings, think more, learn the lessons?
There has always been a place for dystopian stories in films and books – you can’t really consider one without the other, as literature can probe moral questions more deeply, but film is rather good at giving us a visual interpretation of these brave new worlds. Science Fiction is undergoing a renaissance, especially in the cinema, and exploring the future can help us make sense of the present, question the significance and consequences of our actions today. But while visions of the future are popular - a solitary hero racing across a ravaged Earth defeating baddies has its attractions (everyone likes a good story), and bleakness is so much more interesting than unrelenting happiness - the films don’t always have quite the same serious intent as literature.
I’m not sure that my novel, When the Floods Came, is quite bleak enough to be entirely dystopian. I wanted to create a more benign post-apocalyptic world – one can grow weary of gangs, motorbikes, zombies – so my world is crumbling, yes, unpopulated, yes, but not overtly dangerous. The threats are more sinister, under the surface. I’ve recently read Station Eleven, by Emily St John Mandel, and she has chosen a similar approach, only a few decades after the disaster (both of us use viruses), and still rooted in the pre-collapsed society, although she spends more time on the disaster itself. I was drawn to the sadness of the country when most of the people have gone – cycling through an empty motorways, collapsed wind turbines where no repairman will ever come again, a vast neglected Spaghetti Junction, traces of a lost world. A family living alone in a tower block in Birmingham appealed to me - the shadows of the people who were once there, nostalgia that keeps the past alive, the dependence on spare parts that will one day run out. And I started to worry about our scientific progress. We’re where we are now because we are standing on giants’ shoulders. But when the giants are long gone, when the solid feet beneath have been forgotten, will we have the knowledge, the expertise to start again?
Today’s dystopian popularity must surely be the result of present insecurity. In the face of impending disaster, it can be helpful to see beyond it all, to believe that mankind can survive – even if there won’t be many of us left. However grim it might be, it offers a sense of relief, reassurance that we can start again, rebuild. There’s a hunger for hope, even if the spark is infinitesimally small. A glimmer of light in the distance can make all the difference.
When the Floods Came is out now and available at Foyles