The Mystery of Dystopia

Television is full to the brim of brand new and exciting dramas at the moment. A drama exploring the prequel to Batman, entitled Gotham, had its pilot episode this week, which I quite enjoyed, and the new series of The Walking Dead started on Monday but I have yet to watch it.

However, in a sense, both bring me to the topic of today’s blog post. Can prequels (such as Gotham) or explaining the origin of the apocalypse in The Walking Dead, effect the strength of the plot, or one of the character?

It is common for most post-apocalyptic/dystopian stories to explore a “new world”, with little references to the “old world” and how the change came about. But what stops the writer from revealing the reasons for the change? Why can’t we find out the cause of the zombie outbreak in The Walking Dead, or what lead to the invention of The Hunger Games?

I suppose it is the sense of mystery more than anything. In the context of a long-running TV show like The Walking Dead, the writers can afford to slowly reveal details of the zombie outbreak to keep viewers interested. But for books – with their own constrictions – the writer may use the reveal as a plot twist or surprise moment in the plot. They are limited to a certain amount of pages to make the journey into the dystopian universe exciting.

I think the answer is dependant on where the story is based and the limitations of that. A book only requires a short amount of attention because of its length. But for a long-running show, we need tiny glimpses of an explanation along the way to add to the mystery and excitement for the viewer.

But what do you think? Why do writers of post-apocalyptic and dystopian stories hold back on the big explanation? Comment below!

Liam

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