|Some thoughts on "The Invisible Dystopia"
||[Mar. 26th, 2012|10:09 am]
Saw a link to this last Friday, but didn't get around to read it until today. Paolo Bacigalupi on why no quiltbag people in dystopias.
I'd actually been thinking about this myself, in that weird hivemind/thoughts-in-the-ether way, last week. I'm currently reading Delirium by Lauren Oliver. This is at least the fourth dystopian YA I've read about a female protagonist and her love life. This ramps it up even a bit more though, by declaring love a disease that you're cured of at 18 with damaging brain surgery. So far she only has one boy she's interested in though -- that breaks the pattern of having two (potential) love interests.
While some of these dystopias mention the possibility of two people of the same sex loving each other, actual quiltbag characters are noticeably absent.
I started pondering how I could subvert the trope -- or mess with this new subgenre. And my thoughts really did go towards.. well, what if you made a dystopia that was pretty much what life is already like for queer people. My thoughts didn't get too much further than that, since I have school, work, and other things crowding out my brain.
Which is to say, I agree with Bacigalupi to the point that the dystopia is already here. And to make it worse, you'd really only have to go to certain parts of the country (US) or other parts of the world, or just a few decades back in time. You can't get more dystopic for gay people than Nazi Germany, really, can you?
But subverting it by showing heterosexuality as deviant? It's been done. He even notes it's been done. I could probably come up with a few more examples with enough thought. (Forever War by Haldeman is one example I just read.) I dunno. You'd have to do it differently, or do it really well. It could be useful to have one of those in a bright, shiny YA cover and suck in all the Hunger Games and YA romance fans, but.. The story would still have a straight person as the main character now wouldn't it?
Look, we need more quiltbag characters in YA science fiction and fantasy PERIOD. Full stop.
So go forth and write a dystopia where heterosexuality is forbidden. But, also, or instead of, write a dystopia where the main character isn't straight. Write a dystopia where one of the love interests is bi. Write a dystopia where they mess with your gender. Write a dystopia where orientation doesn't matter and it's a dystopia for other reasons. And write a story with rocket ships piloted by lesbians. Write a fantasy full of boy dragons raising eggs together. Write all the things!!
We need it all.
Related note: Stone Telling's queer issue is out -- Haven't read it yet, but it's sure to be full of super-awesome things, since they didn't accept my awesome things. ;)