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Thread: Government conspiracy = Dystopian?

  1. #1

    Government conspiracy = Dystopian?

    Hi all,

    So I have this SNI banging around and while it's still subject to change, the central conflict revolves around a conspiracy involving an extremely elite group within the government (if you've seen the X-Files, think the Syndicate). It's also set in the future. Now, while this future society is hardly ideal, it's miles off something like The Hunger Games or other YA dystopias in that the majority of the population live perfectly normal lives and the vast majority of the government aren't out to do much harm.

    This powerful group's goals are ultimately against the government as a whole, yet they are, technically, part of the government. I don't think that this would be classed as dystopian by classic definitions but a lot tends to be shoved into this category these days and I'm thinking this might be due to the fact that it's set in a future society and a group within the government is the primary antagonist.

    I think of it as (light) sci-fi as it involves behavioural engineering/experiments but I'm still unsure. I know I shouldn't get hung up on genres right now but I'd like to know what direction I'm going in while this is all still fairly flexible because I'd rather steer it away from the dystopian angle if possible. Would this fall into the dystopian sub-genre?

    Hope this made some kind of sense!
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  2. #2
    Vengeful Crystaline Hawk 45C AW Moderator Zoombie's Avatar
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    Hey, just the existence of a government conspiracy doesn't mean it HAS to be a dystopy. Even the cuddly wuddly Federation of Planets had a secret biowarfare division that saw use in the Dominion War.

    Even noble governments need secrets.

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  3. #3
    I'm behaving. SuperModerator alleycat's Avatar
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    What makes this future world dystopian? You may have it in your premise but I don't see it in what you've posted.

    I might label it futuristic speculative fiction (even though that's a mouthful); maybe futuristic SF if there is enough SF to it.



  4. #4
    might be a giant maybegenius's Avatar
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    Well, it depends less on what it IS and more on where it's LIKELY TO BE MARKETED. And futuristic societies with government conspiracies tend to fall under the dystopian bracket for marketing purposes, even if they're not really. Although now that dystopian is supposedly falling out of favor, I imagine we'll see more books referred to as "sci-fi" instead.

    I recently read ADAPTATION, which had a big ol' government conspiracy at its core, but it was modern-day (well, very near future -- year 2015). It's considered science fiction.

    Either way, you gave yourself your own answer... too early to be thinking of genre designation yet Ultimately, if they pick it up, they'll decide what to call it. You could always attempt to go for more of a Cory Doctorow thriller angle and you might be able to swing a "futuristic thriller" designation.
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    Who rules?! Hyrules! Liosse de Velishaf's Avatar
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    Sounds like it could be sci-fi or thriller depending on how you work it, but like maybe said, unless you're ready to ship it off to agents, you have other things you should probably be focusing on.

  6. #6
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    I don't think, from what you've said, it would be considered a dystopian future. But as it was said above, the people above you will decide how to market it and what not, so why worry about the genre now? Especially because it just sits as an idea!
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    Takiran Code Scholar breaking_burgundy's Avatar
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    It's really easy to classify anything futuristic as dystopian, considering that "create a new world --> new world needs some kind of government/societal structure --> if the government/societal structure was actually stable and effective, it wouldn't be worth writing about" So now it's easy to take anything set in a "secondary world" and call it a dystopia.

    Except that dystopia is more about false utopia and suppression of the individual. Anything else is, well, a story set in a different world.

  8. #8
    Aerospace engineer turned writer
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    Governmental bad guys have long been a staple of thriller and adventure books and movies. Ever seen any of the Bourne movies? From a writer's standpoint this makes good sense: a convenient and convincing and endless source of antagonists.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by maybegenius View Post
    Well, it depends less on what it IS and more on where it's LIKELY TO BE MARKETED. And futuristic societies with government conspiracies tend to fall under the dystopian bracket for marketing purposes, even if they're not really. Although now that dystopian is supposedly falling out of favor, I imagine we'll see more books referred to as "sci-fi" instead.
    I completely agree.

  10. #10
    The glint of light on broken glass Tolstoyce's Avatar
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    I also think whether or not the government is the main antagonist plays a role in choosing a genre. And from the sound of it, it's not the whole government, but only a portion of it. A corrupted government doesn't automatically make it dystopian, especially if so many people in your world live comfortably.




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    chronically underwhelmed Fantasmac's Avatar
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    This doesn't sound like dystopian to me and I would stick with calling it sci-fi when you query. I also feel like dystopian is going the way of paranormal romance, in that agents aren't as eager to see it in their inboxes. I would focus on finishing the book and decide what to label it later.

  12. #12
    If the world hasn't gone to hell yet, it's not technically a dystopia. It sounds like you're fixing to send your world to hell shortly, which, if this is the beginning of a series, might make it dystopian overall, but if the going-to-hell is still in the planning stages? I wouldn't call it that, no.
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  13. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by Rhoda Nightingale View Post
    If the world hasn't gone to hell yet, it's not technically a dystopia. It sounds like you're fixing to send your world to hell shortly, which, if this is the beginning of a series, might make it dystopian overall, but if the going-to-hell is still in the planning stages? I wouldn't call it that, no.
    Yep, this is pretty much it.

    Thanks for all the great replies so far. I know it's not important at this stage but I do find genre classification/marketing within publishing interesting. I guess it does depend to a degree on what is and isn't popular at the time.
    "It all came rushing at me. One book led to the next. It was a joy. Words weren't dull, words were things that could make your mind hum. If you read them and let yourself feel the magic, you could live without pain, with hope, no matter what happened to you."
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  14. #14
    Attack me with everything you have. Kim Fierce's Avatar
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    I think you should just write your story! I wrote a contemporary adventure which is being marketed as romance lol. Eh whatterya gonna do?
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