I’ve been reading a lot of dystopian fiction recently. I’m currently sixty percent through Aldous Huxley’s 1932 novel Brave New World. It’s another of those books I read a long time ago. In fact it was so long ago that it now feels like I’m reading the book for the first time. Anyway before I started Brave New World I ploughed through Yevgeny Zamyatin‘s 1921 novel We. George Orwell‘s 1949 novel Nineteen Eighty-four. And the 1908 novel The Iron Heel by Jack London. While they are all very different, articulating various concerns the authors had about the time in which they were writing, they all share a similar plot device; the transgressive protagonist. Ernest Everhard, D-503, Bernard Marx and Winston Smith are all at odds with the orthodoxy of world they live in. Whether it’s socialist revolutionary Ernest Everhard attacking the capitalist oligarchy or the thought-criminal Winstone Smith defying the totalitarian power of Big Brother, all four novels have a transgressive protagonists. The other thing that I’m struck by, it might be the thing that makes all these novels dystopian fiction; all the protagonist’s eventually exceed to orthodoxy. They all transgress and are each violently punished for their offences. This raises a question for me. Is Carrion a dytopian fiction if Adam Leigh remains unpunished for his transgressions at the end? The plot of Carrion only really covers Adam’s transformation from prohibitionist to insurgent. Without the punishment at the end, is his challenge to orthodoxy complete? Perhaps Carrion is less dystopian than I thought. It could be that Carrion is actually just the beginning of Adam’s story, the first part of a much larger project.
I recently read George Orwell’s Nineteen eighty-four. I don’t think I’ve read this cornerstone of dystopian fiction since 1984. The thing I’m struck by now, twenty-eight years later, is how much of an influence it’s had on me. Two of the three screenplays I’ve written are dystopian in nature. Carrion is set in a society on the cusp of exceeding to totalitarian regime. The Singularity is essentially a vision of Orwell’s room 101; I can’t think of anything worse than being tapped on a spaceship with hoards of zombies. I have another idea, something that’s been on the back-burner for a while now, that deals explicitly with surveillance. The story is still unformed but inhabits a world where surveillance is used as a substitute for morality. I don’t have much more than that notion and a few nebulous images, some of which were used in my short screenplay Phos/phate. The thing that all these projects share with Nineteen eighty-four is an interests in the technologies of power. It’s a subject I come back to again and again. And comes I think from a feeling, rightly or wrongly, that I am being controlled in some way. I want to understand power. How it works? And how to survive it? I’m not sure if anyone else views the world like this but I often have the feeling that when the rulebook of existence was handed out I wasn’t given a copy. Or it could just be that I’m just far too sceptical, too much of a heretic.