Wednesday, October 10, 2012

The Difference Between Fantasy and Dystopian


I think we’ve seen a huge rush of dystopian stories is young adult recently. I say I think because I don’t follow young adult as closely as I used to. Young adult paranormal is what led me to adult romance, but since I’ve discovered happy-ever-afters, it’s hard for me to read stories that don’t guarantee the happy ending. I want to break out of this, but for now I’ve decided to excuse myself for my romantic obsession.

But I’ve heard through Twitter and online that dystopian has had a huge surge in YA. I’m not sure if I’ve seen that as much in adult. Am I missing something? It's very possible that I could be. I haven’t seen any dystopian romance series lately, but I might be looking in the wrong places. If you have a suggestion for an adult romance series, I’d love to hear about it in the comments.

I’m thinking about this because someone mentioned that Denied, Book Two in the Shadowed Love Series, is a dystopian story in a review. Then I thought, shoot, I’m caught. Lol. I guess I’ve been marketing my stories as fantasy, but really they might be more dystopian at heart.

My understanding of fantasy is that it’s an alternate realm or dimension. There is no Earth there, although the people in the world can have knowledge that Earth is an alternate dimension depending on the worldbuilding. I think fantasy is its own world with its own customs, and it has limitless freedom for the author that way. They have to follow their established rules, but the rules are their own to create.

Dystopian is more a society that forms after an apocalyptic event. This society is based on the foundation that it is a utopia. It’s seen as better than the previous world, but there’s always a fatal flaw in the foundation of the world that makes it dystopian rather than a perfect society.

I think of this in terms of the Shadowed Love Series. The Shadow Shifters come from our world in 657 to a new realm (the Realm of Shadows) to create an untainted society. But they soon find that the peace they’ve lived with for centuries isn’t sustainable. Now, modern day, they’re forced to confront their ideals and compare them against what’s necessary to survive. This changes them all. That to me is a dystopian society. They are forced to confront their system of government, the way they treat their women, and the way they view violence. What they have is crumbling beneath them, no matter how pure their intentions were at the conception.

But I’m not sure. Around the web, there are many different meanings. I’d love to hear your interpretations, or if you’ve seen great posts about the distinction, I’d love to visit the links. Feel free to tell me I'm wrong. :-) I'd really like to learn what the current view of dystopian is in publishing.

Kinley Baker (@kinleybaker)

1 comment:

  1. I say your series is fantasy, bur I have to admit I don't know dystopian very well (if at all). I guess it's whatever the reader wants it to be.

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