Speculative Fiction: Dystopia
Often associated with descriptors such as “nonrealist,” “antirealist,” or “imaginative,” speculative fiction is sometimes described as a “super genre” of writing that includes a variety of different genres that contain speculative elements. Speculative fictions can imagine futures beyond the nation-state formation or extrapolate from current trends and developments into a dystopian future. In this course, we will examine one particular sub-genre of speculative fiction: dystopia. Etymologically derived from the Greek root dys (bad) + topas (place), dystopia is understood as an imagined state or society characterized by extreme suffering, injustice, violence, pandemics, and post-apocalyptic collapse. For many communities of migrants, refugees, Indigenous, and racialized peoples, however, the notion of dystopia is not some distant future to be anticipated and feared--it is carried as inherited memory, lived experience, and the here and now. Through reading works of speculative fiction that take up the theme of dystopia, this course will focus on how writers of colour interrupt Euro-centric, universalists paradigms of the genre.
- Ursual Le Guin, "The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas"
- Samuel R. Delany, "Aye, And Gomorrah"
- Ken Liu, The Hidden Girl and Other Stories
- Octavia Butler, "Bloodchild" (from Bloodchild and Other Stories)
- Larissa Lai, “Rachel” (from Automaton Biographies) & “Rachel” (from So Long Been Dreaming)
- Kawika Guillermo, “Dei’s World” (from All Flowers Bloom).
- Omar El Akkad, American War (2017)
- Ling Ma, Severance (2018)
- Alexis Pauline Gumbs, M Archive: After the End of the World (2018)
All material © Y-Dang Troeung, 2021