Massimo Marino: Dystopian, Utopian, and Cacotopian {Guest Post + Giveaway}



Today, I'm happy to host scientist-turned sci-fi writer, Massimo Marino to talk about some concepts that are the basis for his The Daimones Trilogy.

He is also giving one paperback copy of Daimones (Book 1) or Once Humans (Book 2) ... so read on!

Dystopian, Utopian, and Cacotopian by Massimo Marino

The word dystopian comes from the ancient greek with δυσ-, "bad", and τόπος, "place." Alternatively it can also be called cacotopia, or anti-utopia. The word dystopia represents a counterpart of utopia.

Many dystopias described in fictional works present a utopian society, where good-life seems to have been achieved, but suffering by at least one fatal issue. Whereas utopian societies are founded on aspiring to the general well-being, a dystopian society’s dreams of improvement are overshadowed by a repression of any sort and origin, at times even one benevolent repression.

These kind of society appear particularly in stories staged on a speculative and visionary future. Dystopias are often characterized by dehumanization, totalitarian rules, ecological and environmental disasters—post-apocalypse scenery, like in my work “The Daimones Trilogy”—or other events associated with a cataclysmic decline in the society fabric.

A famous dystopian novel is Fahrenheit 451, where the state burns all books out of fear of what they may incite in the individuals, and the more recent The Hunger Games, where a government holds control of its people by maintaining a constant state of fear through annual fight to the death competitions, the Hunger Games, where two young members of the various districts the world is divided in—after a global war that brought the planet on the bring of annihilation—are selected as ‘tribute’.

Dystopias have taken the form of a multitude kind of speculations and create very compelling stories that touch on issues of our own society: corruption, poverty, violence, pollution, political repressions. They offer their writers lots of freedom and inventive. Even if placed in the future, technology may, or may not be more advanced than in the present. In some cases, humanity has been brought to face a total collapse of the world as we know it and the fights for survival set in.

Some dystopian fictions emphasize the pressure to conform to a flattened society, as a requirement not to excel. In these fictions, the society is ruthlessly egalitarian, in which ability and accomplishment, or even competence, are suppressed or stigmatized as forms of inequality. Again, in Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451, the dystopia represses the intellectuals with a particular brutality and subverts pillars of our society like the concept of family, a clear case of dehumanization dystopian organizations.

Both the principles of utopian and dystopian societies can be idealistic, with the goal of attaining positive stability for its members, but on dystopian fictions the foundations have such defects that ultimately result in oppressive consequences for the inhabitants of the planet. The oppression and repression can be subtle and the perception of a utopian society lingers instead, at least for a certain duration of the story, until a Hero becomes aware of the flaws and decides, against all odds, to intervene. Some fine examples come from such films and stories as Fritz Lang's Metropolis and Brazil.

In dystopia, characters are at the mercy of the controlled society even if, at epidermic level, they might have the impression to live the good life; people enjoy much higher material living-standards in exchange for the loss of other qualities in their lives, such as independent thought and emotional depth. Humanity lives in a glorious state of comfort, but has given up what gives life its meaning.

The fictional society construction often has a backstory of a disaster, a war, a critical global climatic change, or an encounter of the third type, introduced early in the narrative and that create the stage for the story evolution. The historic events triggered the shift from previous systems of society organization and social norms to a changed society and new, often disturbing, social norms.

Book 1: Daimones
Unlike other fictions where an improbable, outcast main character evolves through the typical Arc of the Hero, often dystopias feature a prominent personality of the new society as the protagonist who senses, sometimes intuitively, that something terribly wrong is going on, despite the ‘utopian’ outlook. The hero's point of view clashes with the others' perception, and reveals to the readers that concepts of utopia and dystopia are tied to each other and the only difference between them lies on a matter of opinion. The hero attempts to either change the system or bring it down.

The story is often—but not always—unresolved even if the hero manages to escape or destroy the dystopia. That is the individual who are unsatisfied, and rebel, ultimately fail to change anything. Dystopian works may convey a sense of hopelessness in contrasts with much fiction of the future, in which a hero succeeds in resolving conflicts or otherwise changes things for the better.

All we said about dystopian, and its duality with utopian fictions and visioned societies, can also be told about my work in progress, “The Daimones Trilogy”.

Book 2:
Once Humans
The trilogy describes a post-apocalypse world whose dystopian roots are million years old. Ancient aliens, a galactic struggle, the control of unique resources, meld to dictate the fate of the humankind.

Daimones places a few survivors in a world having experienced a planetary culling of humankind, one with no immediate or apparent cause. The Apocalypse has arrived yet the 'why' and 'how' remain unknown in a frustrating and fearful reality for Dan Amenta and his family.

Dan and his family awake one day in a world where everyone is dead but no evidence points to a cause. Initial searches for survivors yield nothing and, in panic, the family turns their house into a stronghold. Eventually, they find Laura, a survivor who manages to win their hearts...and leads Dan to temptation. Laura reveals her panicking encounter with strange entities which Dan recognizes in his childhood hallucinations. He forces himself to find and confront them: An older power controls the fate of men.

The story, on purpose, starts with the confusing life--and manifest lack of information--of characters that, as with the vast majority of us, live their life focusing on a very little world around themselves. Then something happens, and the "heros" arch starts :)

Daimones describes what our world is: we focus on money, we are not looking at what happens around us, we already live in a spiritual apocalypse. Volume 2, Once Humans was published in July 2013. The trilogy will explore the apocalypse from the physical death of humankind, the rebirth of the society, dystopian or utopian, and a larger conflict tensions with the second and third volumes.

Our real life world though tells us we have a spiritual death apocalypse already in place.

About Massimo Marino

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Massimo Marino comes from a scientist background: He spent years at CERN and The Lawrence Berkeley Lab followed by lead positions with Apple, Inc. and the World Economic Forum. He is also partner in a startup in Geneva for smartphone applications: TAKEALL SA. Massimo currently lives in France and crosses the border with Switzerland multiple times daily.

His debut trilogy novel Daimones won the 2012 PRG Reviewer’s Choice Award in Science Fiction, it is the recipient of the Awesome Indies Seal of Approval and the indiePENdents Seal of Quality Writing, and the 2013 Hall of Fame – Best Science Fiction by the Quality Reads UK Book Club in collaboration with Orangeberry Book Tours.


GIVEAWAY!

1 paperback or either Daimones or Once Humans by Massimo Marino
(US/Can)

Book 1: Daimones
About Daimones: Dan Amenta woke up one morning to discover the world had changed...the Apocalypse had arrived.

Death, destruction, and disaster were wreaking havoc across the globe. Yet Dan and his family remained untouched and he sensed some sort of supernatural power had left them the only three people alive on Earth. They were not.

The efforts to survive and find others brought Dan to discover the disturbing truth about the human extermination. He met Laura, who brought revelations about the catastrophe, and her presence - a young, sexy, disruptive girl - raised questions about what was moral and ethical in the new reality. Other survivors reported what they had seen, forcing Dan to seek explanations from his own past.

Ancient hallucinations strike Dan with the force of a sledgehammer and bring him face-to-face with his new role in a scenario with roots millions-of-years old. Planet Earth was now in the hands of an older power but not the one Dan had ever envisioned.


Book 2:
Once Humans


About Once Humans: Mankind is undergoing rebirth, the new arrivals closely watched by the Selected: the transgenic beings created by the Moîrai. The new communities thrive with the aliens' support and peace and security reign on Eridu, as the planet Earth is known by the Moîrai and in the galaxy. But peace and security of the cradle are suddenly shattered by acts of sabotage set to disrupt the fragile balance of the fledgling communities.

From the coldest climes to the deepest ocean floors, a cosmic conspiracy full of betrayal and fear is being hatched with the hope of pushing the world perilously close to the brink of self-destruction. It is up to Dan Amenta to journey through dark and deadly alleys--even into the depths of the planet--to unlock the shadowy logic of alien minds.

Once Humans starts some ten years after the events narrated in Daimones, Vol.1 of the homonymous "Daimones Trilogy". The story is a 'loss of innocence' for Dan and for the Selected. The events and the emotional trauma prepare the race of man to reclaim its place in the galaxy.

7 comments:

  1. Some wonderful thoughts on dystopian fiction =) Good luck to anyone entering the competition!

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  2. I am entering your giveaway.
    It would be great to win a paperback
    of either Daimones or Once Humans by Massimo Marino.
    This looks like an interesting series.
    I enjoy reading and discovering new authors.
    Thank you for having this giveaway!!!!!!!

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    1. Good luck, Wayne. Thanks for your comments.

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  3. I had no idea what a cacotopia was, thank you for this article!

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    Replies
    1. Hello, Sarah, thanks for visiting. Greek had a knack for words :)

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