Whatever Happened To Utopia?

As the author of a dystopian novel, I have to ask why, and when, did Utopia become Dystopia? Growing up, I read all the science fiction I could get my hands on. It wasn’t called ‘speculative fiction’ yet, ‘cause it was written by and for the scientifically minded, based on an optimistic vision of science creating a glorious future for us puny humans. Yeah, I was a nerd, a card-carrying member of the Science Fiction Book Club, reading authors like Robert Heinlein, Isaac Asimov, Arthur C. Clarke and all the rest.

What a vision! We were destined to evolve as a race, get smarter and stronger, master the arts of mental telepathy and teleportation; as science made our lives ever easier, we would zoom into space, build glorious shining cities, enjoy high-tech leisure, and all the rest of the Utopian mindset.

So when did we flip over into dismal Dystopian visions of the future? When did Zombie Apocalypse replace The Jetsons? When did taste in popular music morph from Patti Page crooning “How Much Is That Doggie In The Window” (1953) to the band Anthrax “Spreading the Disease” (1985) or Megadeth assaulting us with “Countdown to Extinction” (1993)?

Pretty radical change in attitude in that thirty-odd years! What the heck happened? Why did pessimism take the place of optimism? Since Megadeth, Anthrax and Slayer all began in the early ‘80s, maybe you could blame it on Ronald Reagan. I don’t know.


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