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Monday, October 20, 2014

Up the Tower: Dystopian Fiction

Up the Tower
by J. P. Lantern



Disaster brings everybody together. A cloned corporate assassin; a boy genius and his new robot; a tech-modified gangster with nothing to lose; a beautiful, damaged woman and her unbalanced stalker—these folks couldn't be more different, but somehow they must work together to save their own skin. Stranded in the epicenter of a monumental earthquake in the dystopian slum, Junktown, there is only one way to survive. These unlikely teammates must go...UP THE TOWER.


Before anything else—before the riot, before the flood, before the gap and the deaths and the fires and the pain—before all of that, Ana just wanted to get the hell out of Junktown.

But she was stuck there with Raj, and Raj had all the bodyguards, so she couldn't very well leave on her own. Walk into Junktown without any protection? No, thank you. She had a knife on her, but that was hardly enough. The knife fit neatly in a small, luxury Cardion-brand sheath at her side.

The rest of her outfit was direct out from a fashion magazine. She wore tight black Cardion slacks, her patent leather Aushwere ankle boots sexy and stylish and perfect for inner-city walking. Her dark blue blouse was Cardion again (there had been a sale); already she had noticed the way Raj had been hugging his eyes to how it cupped and clung to her body. He would have been looking a bit more, perhaps, but she wore her favorite Kadaya Sarin-brand leather jacket, allowing her a bit of modesty with the long sleeves and tight collar, despite the thinness of the material. She was a woman dressed to impress, but also was no whore—she had her man. He liked her dressed attractive, but not like some slut. Ana knew what he wanted, because that was her entire life, as she saw it, from now on.

They were inside the ground floor of a tall building. Cleanbots rushed around them, sweeping up dust, guided along by retrofitted eyebots that spied out areas of dust and disrepair.

 “Here's where we'll have the lobby,” said Raj, opening his hands out wide to the open space.

Ana had presence of mind to hold her tongue.

What she wanted to say was, “Really, dear? Here in the first possible place that someone could enter from the street? That's where you'll have the lobby? That's so inventive. You're so smart.”

What did she say was, “Oh! It will look beautiful, I'm sure.”

A WORD FROM THE AUTHOR: What does dystopia mean?

So, a dystopia is a spin on the word “utopia.” Sometime during the Enlightenment, Utopian Fiction and Philosophy came into being, because large amounts of people were becoming rather well educated for the first time in history. Because of this, a great many folks started to believe that the “perfect society” was just around the corner. This made sense, in a way, because the formation and success of the United States—and then the French Revolution—made it seem like human history had forever changed course into toward something that would heavily favor peace and rational thought.
Well, this wasn't the case.

After The Great War promptly trounced most of humanity's dreams for a decent future, a new kind of fiction and philosophy started sliding around—dystopian fiction. This was fiction about how, despite all our education and good intentions, humans are basically prone to being completely terrible (due either to systems of government, technology, or some other trapping of civilization), and how we can't escape being inhuman to our fellow humans.

After World War II, this intensified further, because all of a sudden, for the first time in the history of civilization, we had the ability to absolutely wipe out every trace of all life on earth with nuclear weapons. There have been lots of times in the past when a civilization has been completely wiped out due to plague, or war, or famine, but never before had we been positioned to utterly destroy even the possibility of life across the entirety of the globe in just a matter of hours (if we wanted).

So, with the belief that we're all kind of idiots fueling this tank of destruction, dystopian authors figured it would be sort of inevitable for us to destroy almost everything. Or, alternatively, they figured the fear of destroying everything would destroy all our fundamental concepts of freedom (the thought being that the more rights you take away in order to protect life against some shadowy threat, the more you've destroyed the freedoms of a given country). This is why so many dystopian novel—like 1984 or THE HUNGER GAMES—focus on totalitarian governments being in charge.

I like to write in this genre for several reasons. For one, I like to explore science-fiction worlds and ideas because it gives the author a little more allowance to just fabricate things out of pure thin air. The only thing keeping a science fiction author from being a fantasy author is the joined belief by the audience that the science fiction possibilities posed might exist someday (with fantasy, the understanding is more along the lines of the world might exist somewhere, be it in another dimension, planet, or time).

For another reason, though, back to this idea of incidentally or purposefully destroying the world, I feel like we're not out of the woods yet. I think it’s important to consider that with the world so close together these days, it only takes a small amount of decisions to really start to unhinge everything. Dystopian fiction allows us to hold a mirror up to the world with everything distorted just the right way, so that the problems are more problematic and the extremes of opinion and thought are just scary enough to (hopefully) initiate some change.


AUTHOR Bio and Links:

J.P. Lantern lives in the Midwestern US, though his heart and probably some essential parts of his liver and pancreas and whatnot live metaphorically in Texas. He writes speculative science fiction short stories, novellas, and novels which he has deemed "rugged," though he would also be fine with "roughhewn" because that is a terrific and wonderfully apt word.
Full of adventure and discovery, these stories examine complex people in situations fraught with conflict as they search for truth in increasingly violent and complicated worlds.


The author is giving away a backlist ebook copy to a randomly drawn winner at every stop during the tour and a Grand Prize of a $25 Amazon GC will be awarded to one randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during this tour. Use the rafflecopter link below to enter. You can find the author's tour schedule at

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Mary Preston said...

A great post. Do you know who coined the word "dystopia"?

Rita Wray said...

I enjoyed the author post, it was interesting.

Kathy Heare Watts said...

Thank you for sharing. I have read a few dystopia books.

bn100 said...

Interesting blurb

Anonymous said...

I liked the excerpt