I’ve always had issues with two types of novel/film: dystopian and zombies. Zombies, because, well, they’re just silly (not necessarily implausible, but in the most part, daft) and require too much suspension of disbelief to work. Dystopian, because it would have meant that somehow the leadership or population ended up heading down some kind of extreme, usually socialist or fascist route and got lost, which is always a depressing thought for me.
Galactic Pot Healer has such a dystopia; a mainly socialist backdrop of state control, heavy-handed police, ridiculously centralised services (Mr Job!) and faulty technology, which all build up quickly around the hero, Joe. Obviously, Philip K. Dick is a master and knows what he is doing, using the situation to force the hero into decisions he might not ordinarily take, but it often requires a crap situation for a hero to appear.
It still amazes me that even though the ‘good guys’ are often fighting the defenders of such dystopian worldviews (1984, Brave New World, Star Wars, The Matrix etc.), a good proportion of the world today would happily vote for parties and leaders that would take society down into the very depths detailed in many of these stories.
I cannot fathom why. Perhaps the rational mind, from which most of these situations would arise (more control, more centralisation etc.) can’t see beyond the immediate ‘benefits’ of what their worldview would lead to. Or they haven’t learned from the mistakes of countries today ruled by angry army types or socialist megalomaniacs.
I don’t know anyone that would, hand on heart, say, “I want to balls up society so much that it stagnates and everyone is miserable and no-one has any food or money.” And yet people go out and vote for parties that would willingly bring this about.
Perhaps they secretly dream of being the heroes to save people from the very misery they inflict on them?0