The influence of Nineteen Eighty-Four

I recently re-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-something years later, is how much of an influence it’s had on me.

Two of the three screenplays I’ve written so far 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 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. It 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. It could just be that I’m just far too sceptical, too much of a heretic.


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