One of the best things about reading or watching sci-fi and fantasy is seeing how the writers weave familiar problems and current events into worlds that are nothing like our own. I immediately think of suicide bombers on Battlestar Galactica and the omnipotent “government” in so many YA spec fic books these days.
But what I want to talk about today is a kind of switcheroo. We’re so used to fantasy and sci-fi taking elements of our world and turning them into allegory, or even just plot points, that we don’t often think about the opposite. What non-spec fic books could be looked at as a sci-fi or fantasy allegory?
Scratching your head? Go take a look at the comments from PJ’s post a few days ago. She was asking if an author needs a sci-fi background to write dystopia, and it made me think about what dystopic books are out there that AREN’T spec fic. The immediate book that comes to mind is GONE WITH THE WIND.
I know you’re like, whah? Huh?
But think about it – this book has everything. A world infected with a soul-crushing, fatal-to-the-known-way-of-life disease (slavery – and thanks to PJ for pointing that out)… a devastating war between good and evil – except that in the book the good IS the evil for the most part – and yet it still makes you sympathetic to the plight of the anti-heroes…. it shows the fall of a civilization and then the scratching and clawing to survive in a post-apocalyptic world… GONE WITH THE WIND is maybe one of the best examples of dystopia I know.
So I wonder, what other books are like this? Can you think of a non-spec fic book that does, in fact, follow our “rules” (or maybe not rules – but “patterns”) of world-building and story-telling?
What do you think?