Why Read Dystopian Fiction? – A Guest Post by Dylan Callens, Author of Interpretation

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I’m sure other bloggers understand when I say I have literally scores of requests to read books for review each week. One of the genres that I almost never read is dystopian fiction and when I told author of Interpretation, Dylan Callens, this he was horrified. So, I asked him onto Linda’s Book Bag to try to persuade me otherwise!

Interpretation is published today 1st August 2017 by Cosmic Teapot and is available from all online stores, including here.

Interpretation

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Carl Winston awakens to find his son, Liam, screaming with fear. Trying to understand why, Carl tries to soothe him. Neighbors gather in front of Carl’s apartment to help – until they see him. The crowd cowers back, afraid of this monster.

Carl runs. His life of luxury is ripped away. Forced beyond the city limits, Carl sees a land bereft of life. Traveling in search of answers, his quest comes to a sudden halt when he collapses. As darkness shrouds him, a figure hovers from above.

Traveling along the same route, Eva Thomspon finds Carl and nurtures him back to life. Together, they continue the journey, finding out that their lives have too much in common to be a coincidence. As their affection for each other deepens, an unknown nemesis attempts to remove their only source of happiness – their love for each other.

Interpretation is a dystopian fiction that explores hope and happiness in the bleakest of conditions and what happens when it’s torn away.

Why Read Dystopian Fiction?

A Guest Post by Dylan Callens

Now, you have to understand, I was shocked when Linda didn’t want to read my novel because, and I quote, “I don’t read dystopian fiction if I can avoid it!”  So, I have taken it upon myself to explain why this is so wrong.  Maybe you agree with Linda.  And why wouldn’t you?  Dystopian novels are depressing, aren’t they?

But dystopian novels serve as a reminder about why we need to be vigilant.  In Orwell’s classic, Nineteen Eighty-Four, we are warned to think for ourselves and keep examining the big issues.  We have to keep the government accountable for their doings.  Truth needs to be uncovered.  In Fahrenheit 451 we are told to preserve knowledge and hold dear our right to free speech.  In The Road, we are taught about the importance of holding on to love in the most desperate of times.

Brave New World also serves as a reminder about why love is important.  In Huxley’s world, attachment to one person is outlawed.  Sex is used to pacify, not for procreation.  Relationships are vapid and no one holds a strong emotional attachment to other people.  This is clearly not a future most people want to see.

In this way, I think that dystopian novels are the most important ones to read.  On the surface they appear to be depressing, but they aren’t.  They encourage us to look for the best in humanity right now.  They warn us about what might happen if we let go to the things that make us human.  If we give up our freedoms to any authority, we begin to lose control of our lives, collectively.  If we look for easy answers through computers and technology, then perhaps we become enslaved by them in some ways, such is the case in my novel, Interpretation.

All of these stories encourage us to be better.  To be more vigilant.  To be more… human.

That’s why I have written a dystopian novel.  I wanted to examine what is best about humanity and think about what would happen if we let that go, even if it is by accident.  Although it may seem like I have written a novel that warns against technology, this is not entirely true.  I embrace technology but we have to always keep it in check.  We certainly don’t want to lose ourselves in making life a little easier.

What I have written, and I think many dystopian novels hint at, is a hope for humanity.  We all hope for a better future.  Dystopian novels just have a funny way of showing this hope.

(Ironically, Dylan, not only do I completely agree with you, but I have read all the other novels you mention in your post, except The Road, too so maybe I do read dystopian fiction! I think others should have the chance to decide for themselves so let’s have an extract from Interpretation.)

An Extract from Interpretation

Carl closed his eyes and tried to laugh at himself.  Barely a squeak left his mouth.  What was he thinking, trying to enter this godforsaken wasteland by himself with no supplies?  Still on his back, he dreamed about opening a bottle of Ocean Surge.  Wet bubbles danced against his tongue, bathing his taste buds with refreshing fruit-infusion – small bursts of happiness made his lips sing an ode to joy.

But forget that fantasy; sulfur-ridden tap water would be just as good.  Carl knew the taste would not equate, but its effect would invigorate.  Carl smiled, his eyes wide open, staring into the dimming sky, into the nothingness that surrounded him.  Gulp after glorious gulp of imaginary liquid until he couldn’t keep up, showering his face with it until a puddle formed around him.  That puddle turned into an ocean and Carl sank to the bottom, his faint breath weakening further.  The light grew dimmer.  He tried to reach up, to reach out of the depths of his hallucination, but his arms felt too heavy, as if the pressure at this depth couldn’t be overcome.

A shadow hovered over him.  Carl tried to speak to it, but words didn’t make sense.  The shadow spoke back with a meaningless, muffled slur.  Water entered Carl’s mouth, nearly choking him.  Nonetheless, the delicious wet felt so good, like ocean refreshment in every bottle.  That was the slogan, right?  Carl laughed or cried, he couldn’t tell.  For all he knew, he was dead.  The shadow grew, saying something that he couldn’t work his mind around.  Darker. Darker.  Clock, what the hell was that clock song?  Darker. The shadow drew nearer.  Or maybe it was the darkness.  It was bought on the morn of the day that he was born, And was always his treasure and pride… Ah yes, there it is.  But it stopped short – never to go again – When the old man died.  That’s the one.  Darkness.

About Dylan Callens

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Dylan Callens lands cleanly. That would be the headline of a newspaper built with an anagram generator. And although Dylan is a Welsh name meaning god or hero of the sea, he is not particularly fond of large bodies of water. His last name, Callens, might be Gaelic. If it is, his last name means rock. Rocks sink in the sea. Interestingly, he is neither Welsh nor Gaelic, but rather, French and German. The inherent contradictions and internal conflict in his life are obvious.

You can follow Dylan on Twitter @TheNitzsch, find him on Facebook and Goodreads and visit his website.

14 thoughts on “Why Read Dystopian Fiction? – A Guest Post by Dylan Callens, Author of Interpretation

  1. Vicki_cosybooks says:

    I’ve read a lot of YA dystopian but not so much adult. I like the reminder that we will stand up and fight against adversity and remain hopeful. Great guest post – enjoyed reading it 😃

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Love this! Dylan, I’ve tried to entice Linda over to the dark side of YA Fantasy but she’s a tough customer, ha ha. I think you may have nailed it with your wonderful post! Good luck with your book, I shall be checking it out. Can I also just say what a fabulous name for a publisher – Cosmic Teapot! I love it.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Sue Featherstone says:

    Don’t read The Road! It was a book club read some time ago and was the most hard-to-finish book I’ve read since Thomas Pynchon’s The Crying of Lot 49. At any given point I could have told you exactly how many pages I’d read and how many I had left to read…

    Liked by 1 person

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