REVISITING: Which dystopia do you find the most plausible?

A few years ago, I started a thread on which literary or cinematic dystopia people found the most plausible. It’s only been three years, but I feel like the world has changed a lot in the meantime. And I wondered if the answers would be similar today.

So, which invented dystopias from books or movies (or any other medium you want to bring in) strike you as being the most plausible, if not necessarily likely?

(You can throw in least plausible if you like.)

I think the USA is one good Terrorist Attack[sup]®[/sup] away from a V for Vendetta-style totalitarian quasi-theocracy. I already fear for Trevor Noah’s safety when he get on a roll.

Elysium seems like an extrapolation of current trends. Super-rich minority lives in a remote paradise, enjoys vast wealth, political power, and superlative health care; while a super-poor minority toils away in factories for minimum wage, receives just enough health care to keep them productive until they die, has no political power, and suffers under a brutish, unfeeling police force and an unsympathetic bureaucracy.

Oh yeah, and robotic exoskeletal prosthetic implants with direct neural control. Pretty sure it’ll be along within the next few decades.

In the original thread, I was suggesting both Brave New World and Children of Men (movie, not book). The last couple of years have pushed me more toward Children of Men, with the treatment of migrants and stronger nationalistic vibe.

it’s sad to see some suggestions that were pooh-pooh three years ago as too ridiculous, looking more possible now.

My only female coworker and I constantly, only partially, joke that we’re mere steps away from a Gilead existence. The best we can hope for is to end up a couple of old Aunts :o

Most plausible to me is still the Theocratic America in Heinlein’s Revolt In 2100. Rikwriter thought that was hilarious 3 years ago. How do you feel today, Rik?

That person in a previous topic who said they’d rather live in Wolfensteins “Nazis rule the world” dystopia than current Trump’s America seemed to be on the right path.

Something like Rollerball, where the masses are distracted with bread and circuses while the rich run things. Or perhaps Solaria in The Naked Sun, where rich people live without ever seeing each other, with their robot slaves. If Asimov had simply depicted the Solarians as looking at their phones all the time, it would have been even more prophetic.


A.I. - humans program machines to love and adore us, and we don’t really care about the effect it has on them.

That’s what I said in the last thread, and it’s even more true now.

Is the world of Black Mirror dystopia? Or is it simply a plausible projection of reality 10 or 15 years into the future? Whichever it is, we are quite seriously almost there. Forget about the political elements and the outlandish post apocalyptic hellscapes and evil Orwellian governments - the world shown in Black Mirror is our world’s future.


I recognize that this thread is inevitably going to go political. In order to keep it a fit for Cafe Society, let’s restrict ourselves to specific societies from specific works of fiction. So an answer of “fundamentalist Christian theocracy” would be out of bounds, but “like under Nehemiah Scudder in Heinlein’s future history” is in bounds. And let’s try to avoid tangents about how, specifically, our real-world political system is moving in various directions: That’s a valid topic, but for GD, not for CS.

Can you clarify this? If I say I think the world of 1984 is looking more likely, am I not allowed to say why?

When the topic is what dystopias are plausible, it doesn’t seem a tangent to mention the specific ways the government is moving toward a particular dystopia.

It’s not that it’s off-topic; it’s that allowing that would inevitably lead the conversation down paths that would be off-topic. I have to draw the line somewhere, and I’m choosing to draw it close.

I always found Brave New World’s concept of people willingly subjugating themselves more compelling than malevolent 1984 style dictatorships. Some things would need to be updated as it’s 86 years old, of course.

I also agree that it is something like Brave New World. A Dystopia where the people inside it don’t even know they are in one because they are happy. It is only revealed as empty and sad by the outside observer who sees what it is lacking.

I recently read Gnomon, an excellent, dense dystopian work.

The novel supposes a UK with cameras everywhere, fed into an heuristic AI. No human ever sees any images unless the heuristic flags potential criminal behavior. In addition to flagging actual criminal behavior, it can flag potential criminal thought-patterns, at which point the suspect is brought in for an involuntary interrogation, in which electrodes can read surface thoughts while skilled interrogators elicit the desired surface thoughts. Suspects often have a “tune-up” of their minds to remove the criminal patterns, which they invariably appreciate, post-tune-up.

The mindreading bit is maybe way out there, but the death of privacy was pretty compelling.

Is it actually a dystopia then?

It’s been here for a couple of years already, dude; try and keep up, eh. :smiley:

Hmm. Idiocracy was considered dystopian when it was released. But now I think people accept it as the status quo.