News: Yuwie Blogger Idol Challenge 1: A Perfect World

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

This was written as an entry in an unofficial challenge going on over at Yuwie.  It's a bit promotional, and probably not too informational for those of you already familiar with GUD, but I'm reposting it here on the off-chance you'll find it at least a touch amusing. :)

For the context of this piece, see Let The Games Begin!

In a perfect world, this essay/post/diatribe would already be written--it would be erudite, and elegant, engaging, and witty. Of course, the intrinsic premise of a utopia is that it does not (and generally, can not) exist. And so I will only attempt to approximate the ideal world by expending effort and time to create something that may begin to approximate something learned, unshabby, interesting, and occasionally amusing.

The term "Utopia" was coined for the title of a (possibly satirical) novel published in the 1500's, a melding of Greek to mean "No Place", or "No Land". Wikipedia has some lovely reading on the history of utopia and the concept of utopia; and the various ways utopias have been categorized--economic, political/historical, religious, and scientific/technological; and gives many examples of each, both in real life and in fiction. []

A big part of speculative fiction is building these perfect worlds and then picking them apart--the perfect world may be a straw man argument, a scream against totalitarianism or war or "eco freaks" or technology; or it may honestly be an author's serious attempt to get at the heart of something and from there explore the difficulties of the human condition.

Most often, the sister term, "dystopia" is trotted out--this is the "negative" land (not to be confused with the band Negativland). A dystopia is often the result of taking some utopian precept to a logical extreme--generally presenting what "insiders" of the system may or may not consider positive but "outsiders" instinctively and immediately see as totalitarion and repressive.

While I wouldn't want you to think that GUD is just about dystopias, I think we've got more than a handful of interesting ones spread throughout our pages, just in Issue 0 (Spring 2007):

"Sundown," the lead selection for Issue 0, is a slice-of-life detective story set in a futuristic dustbowl of a London--it's an environmental dystopia with unsubtle overtones of neglect and despair. Debbie Moorhouse uses this to reflect on life and death, and the faint line between the two--what's in the mind, and what matters, or fails to; the worth of trying, trust, and friendship. And you should remember that you can never trust a dame. ;)

Athena Workman's "One in Ten Thousand" is an implicit dystopia, odd and surreal--we don't know why, but euthenasia is legal and set up on a lottery system (and I don't mean Shirley Jackson's "The Lottery"). It could be a parable on dealing with aging parents, but the focus is more on some light-hearted humor, the silliness in everything, with a bit of nudge-winking towards government efficiency.

"Moments of Brilliance" by Jason Stoddard is a more straight forward revolution story, crossing a technological utopia with a political one. It's an extremely fast-paced 2000 words of innocent sensation and wonder set in the midst of great change.

Charlie Ander's "Cutting a Figure" makes no pretence of utopia, going straight for the technological dystopian jugular, turning the cheapest pop-culture desires into fodder for depression and mistrust. It's an extremely humorous piece that manages to touch on gender identity, self-identity, feminism, direct and subtle controls, and empowerment through degradation, among many other things.

"She Dreams in Colors, She Dreams in Hope" is then a more traditional dystopian setting, that of a pool of workers supporting some machine of a regime. It focuses on the people involved, hope, and a bit of the fantastic, and there's a counterpoint between the dreamy language and the sparsity of their existence that has to be read to be appreciated.

Now, in my ideal world, you know all this, as well, but appreciate my telling you. You've read these stories, enjoyed them, and shared them with your friends. You've nodded along with the descriptions above, felt them resonate with your own latent opinions. And this post as a whole has sparked a desire in you to even discuss them with strangers, given the reasonable chance.

And the ideal world is pretty close to real, in this particular instance, because if any one of these stories jumps out at you, you're welcome to it, free, just to see what I mean. And since we're in the ideal world, for just the moment, that won't come across as the least bit spammy. ;)

And just because this post was written for the friends we have over at Yuwie doesn't mean you can't partake in this perfect world. The offer applies here, too, for a free story. Just ask. :)
- reddit, digg, facebook, stumbleupon, etc... please! ;)
posted by kaolin

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