Least favourite dystopian fiction cliche?

My least favourite dystopian stories are those where, for shock value, an “our history” master criminal becomes an alternate history important politician.

Such published novels and stories have featured:

U.S. President Jim Jones (Jonestown)

California Governor Charles Manson

Soviet General Secretary of the CPSU Andrei Chikatilo

The “incoherent mishmash of slanders” dystopia, typically found in dystopic fiction that is written by political extremists. They take every group and political position they don’t like, mash them together & attribute every bad thing they can think of to those groups, and then call the resulting mess a society.

Except the result doesn’t make sense, since it’s just a mashed together lump of slanders instead of a logically coherent, well thought out society. So you get dystopias that have ubiquitous surveillance & secret police, but also have a high crime rate, or constant famines while being full of hugely overweight gluttons, or insanely aggressive yet simultaneously cowardly soldiers.

Least Favorite Trope: The dystopian government has technology that is miraculous, free, and desperately needed by the population. They withhold this technology because… ? I mean, at least give us a reason, like, “We cannot share this with the plebes because requires exceedingly high resources.” Or, “We have to withhold this because it caused a catastrophe in the past.” Most of the time it’s just, “The ruling class has superior sci-fi technology and you can’t have it because we’re just dicks that way.” (Cough Elysium cough)

Second Least Favorite Trope: The idealized revolution. Our plucky teenaged hero throws off the shackles of oppression and defeats the evil overlords in a remarkably easy coup d’etat. Everyone else in the world immediately agrees that they will live in peace and harmony, and nobody really seems concerned for the consequences. There are no splinter factions, no one competing for power, no massacres, and no purges of political enemies. All those soldiers and ruling elites who died are assumed to have been bad people who had it coming. There are no remaining loyalists or common folk who just want to be left alone. There is no disruption of essential civil services, because running a country is totally something any random teenager or eager young space cadet is qualified to do.

Adolph Hitler as a Science Fiction writer.

Osama bin Laden as a fictional action character.

Donald Trump as President of the United States.

Homogeneity. Everyone wears basically the same outfit, everyone has the same room, and all structures, vehicles, and objects adhere to a single aesthetic style. And for some reason sci-fi writers have all agreed that denim inexplicably ceases to exist in any iteration of the future.

Superintelligence that makes stupid decisions.

Like the borg in star trek. They can resist endless phased weapons but not being punched? Or sending a drone back with a math equation could destroy the collective? Or smashing one woman’s brain can destroy the entire civilization? Bullshit.

When Q said the only reason the borg hadn’t conquered the federation was because of another Q’s intervention, that at least made sense. The real borg would’ve destroyed the federation like a bulldozer plowing an anthill.

Human life isn’t valued; characters are killed to make a point about grit or inhumanity and nobody cares.

The single thing that bothers me most is the ongoing belief in cyberpunk - at least when that was a thing - that such technology would be dominated by young, hormone drenched men. In truth, that sort of tech would be the province of middle aged men and women going about the business of running the world and being slightly annoyed by the kids being gadflys.

There was actually a point to Spinrad casting Hitler as a science fiction writer (of apocalyptic fiction) – he was drawing parallels between a certain type of sf/fantasy and Nazi ideals. The book wasn’t an effort in tasteless tackiness.

Related to some of the above mentioned signs of lazy worldbuilding in dystopian fiction: *everyone *below the privileged circle is just leading drab miserable lives under the regime. Contrast to how in many tyrannies of our reality there were people going about having ok lives, children playing, young people dating, families going on holiday, etc.

The evil megacorporation is super power and evil, just cos dystopian future trope.

I am fine with evil megacorporations (megacorporations can indeed be pretty damn evil), but it is such a widespread trope that it is taken for granted. You no longer need to explain why this corporation is evil, what they are trying to achieve with this evil, and how they plan on getting away with it.

A good example is latest Bladerunner film. Where the Wallace Corporation enforcer kills the main characters boss, a senior police officer. This is a senior police officer not random criminal, at no point has the film explained how the Wallace Corporation would expect to away with this. The local authorities will be like “oh a replicant working for Wallace just killed our chief of police, I will be sure to write a strongly worded one star yelp review”

How do you “Strongly word” a yelp review other than by making it one star?

And poor lighting.

Oh I’d add a second-least favorite: “The US is now big horrible dystopia, we will completely ignore what might have happened the rest of the world even though whatever caused it might not have not have affected the rest of the world or affected it totally differently”

‘Motorcycle gang chic’.

That goes back to Orwell, unfortunately.

As does the idea that any potential revolutionaries must necessarily be middle-aged, middle class, educated white men similar to the author, since the “proles” are too busy being chirpy gor blimey guvnor do wot leave it art Cockney rabble, and women only exist as rewards for disillusioned editors.

You can also be teenage, technically-poor-but-with-a-middle-class-mindset, white rebel. Bonus points if the author thinks they’re being ~edgy~ and in touch with Kids These Days based on middle-aged memories of a white, middle-class childhood.

I don’t like the common idea in dystopias that only evil is organized. The forces of evil will somehow manage to gather together and form armies with hundreds or even thousands of members (and presumably the even larger off-camera group of people who are supporting that army in the field). But the forces of good is represented by a lone hero.

Why? It doesn’t work that way in the real world. In the real world, the good guys are much better at working together than the bad guys are.