Talk to Me 84: Dystopian titles and science fiction

Posted November 4, 2015 by Ana in Special Events, Talk To Me! | 10 Comments


This month, I’m joining in Sci-Fi Month 2015 and all my science fiction-related posts will be for that! Join me, join us, and let’s have a blast together!


Today, I’m going to talk about dystopian titles and science fiction. I have separate genres for dystopian and science fiction, although some people like to have dystopian as a subgenre of sci-fi, and today I wanted to hear YOUR thoughts about it.

But first, a definition of “dystopia”:

(noun) a society characterized by human misery, as squalor, oppression, disease, and overcrowding.

Here are some of my thoughts:

  • A lot of dystopian titles have science fiction elements.

I think this is dystopian titles are seen as a subgenre of science fiction. I mean, look at some of the popular titles: The Hunger Games, Divergent, and Legend. Look at their technology! There are hovercrafts, genetic mutations, super powerful computers, the ability to see into someone’s mind, etc.

Although something about these titles is that the technology is mostly utilised by the rich or the oppressive regime, while the people who are poorer and being oppressed don’t get that kind of access to technology or medicine.

But then look at some of the other dystopian titles…

No, not the bajillion THG-esque titles on the shelf, the OTHER other titles.

  • The science fiction element is absent from some dystopian titles.

There are some titles where everything has gone down the drain, but the science fiction element just isn’t as present as the first group. Some examples of this are Fire Country and Not a Drop to Drink. In these titles, the technology is either like ours or not as advanced. In Fire Country, Sienna’s tribe has a sort-of hunter-gatherer kind of vibe, while Not a Drop to Drink has Lynn living in a world a lot like ours.

I guess this is why I have dystopia and science fiction as separate genres. Some dystopian titles just don’t have that crazy futuristic element that I’ve come to expect from science fiction titles.

  • The science fiction element is… Vague in some dystopian titles.

Okay, so I won’t drop any example titles here because I wouldn’t want to spoil anyone, but this probably sounds familiar…

Our main character lives in a community that must be constantly on the alert and barricaded, because outside their compound lies a world overrun by shambling monsters that are totally not zombies (obviously). How did these not-zombies come about? No one knows. It just happened one day.

But little do they know of the dark secret, the experiments gone wrong…

And so on. So there is some sci-fi thrown in the mix there, because even if the characters don’t have futuristic technology, they are fighting something that science may have caused.


So those are my thoughts on the connection between dystopian titles and science fiction. I definitely see varying levels of sci-fi presence in dystopian titles, and I like that! :D

What do you think, dear reader?

Do you group dystopias and sci-fi together? What do you think their connection is?

Let me know in the comments!


10 responses to “Talk to Me 84: Dystopian titles and science fiction

  1. I don’t think dystopia is necessarily a sub-genre of sci-fi. If it WAS, then Fire Country would technically be sci-fi and that . . . wouldn’t really fit the book. Readers would go into expecting something different from what they’re actually going to get. So, I do agree with you. Dystopia and sci-fi are different genres.
    Kaitlin @ Reading is My Treasure recently posted…Top Ten Tuesday (39) ~ I Want to Read These Authors’ Sophomore Novels!My Profile

    • Ana

      Totally! That’s what I was thinking when I look at titles like Fire Country, because it’s really just NOT science fiction. Unless… Unless their world is a product of science gone horribly wrong! *TENSE MUSIC*

    • Ana

      Thank you, Jeann! I’ve heard of speculative fiction too, and I figure the only reason I haven’t added it is that I’m too lazy to retag my old sci-fi, fantasy, and dystopia reviews under it. :P

      Thanks for the welcome back! <3

  2. Personally I’ve always counted dystopia as a sub-genre of sci-fi, but that’s mostly so things don’t get too confusing, and I find it easier to have large genres with many branching sub-genres :P I can totally see why you consider it a separate thing though.

    I guess to me they are the same because dystopias are generally the future, and most futuristic settings (again, to me) = science fiction.

    BUT especially with things like zombie titles there is a lot of crossover. I consider zombies to be ‘paranormal’ but they are also normally found in dystopian settings.

    Basically… genres are CONFUSING! Wonderful post :D
    Rinn recently posted…Sci-Fi Month 2015: Recent & Upcoming ReleasesMy Profile

    • Ana


      I can never keep track of large genres with sub-genres under that. Don’t even get me started on my urban fantasy, high fantasy, etc fantasy genres because I just lump it all under one. :P

      Totally agree with the zombies point! I mean, I feel like most of the books about zombies had the zombies being caused by some kind of science experiment gone wrong or something. :O

      Thanks, Rinn!

  3. Hmm…no, I don’t group dystopias and sci-fi together though you’re right that they can be related (especially if viruses or technology gone wrong is the reason why the world had gone to crap). My favorite dystopias are the ones where there are more sci-fi elements in them, though. Like, recently, I read the dystopia/post-apocalyptic novel Salt by Colin Barnes and it just wasn’t as good as I thought it could be because the author didn’t explore the science behind the virus in a satisfying way. Great post!
    Sharry recently posted…Book Review: Dreamer’s Pool by Juliet Marillier. How will a prickly healer hell-bent on vengeance and a hulking brute haunted by nightmares save a Prince and his darling from the sinister workings of an ancient magic?My Profile

    • Ana

      I think dystopias with sci-fi elements are real cool! :D I do love science and I think I’d go nuts if the virus wasn’t at least explained in some kind of way! Thanks, Sharry!