Dystopian Fiction Panel

Saturday 31 August

Venue: Kino Teatr

10.00 to 12.00

Tickets available only from Kino Teatr: Tickets: £15.00  including screening of 1984 

Richard Blair and Kevin Brooks, Chair: Dr Patricia McManus, discuss the genre.

The history of dystopian literature can be traced back to reaction to the French Revolution of 1789, and the prospect that mob rule would produce dictatorship. It has also been seen as a response to optimistic view of the world presented by the writers of utopian fiction. It has been said that whilst Utopian novels offer promises, the role of the dystopian novel is to provide a warning (Consider HG Wells The Time Machine, EM Forster’s The Machine Stops, Orwell’s 1984, Huxley’s Brave New World and more modern works such as Margaret Atwood’s The Hand Maid’s Tale and Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games trilogy.)

Today, Dystopian fiction draws not only on the ideas that have always characterised the genre – such as totalitarian governments and anarchism, but also on topics that are becoming a pressing concern for us today – such as pollution, global warming, climate change, health, the economy and technology. Dystopian fiction has also become a staple of the young adult genre of literature, perhaps indicative of the questions, doubts and concerns that are now a very present part of 21st century living.

Join our panel to discuss dystopian fiction.

You may also be interested in: Screening of 1984; Workshop 3 – Writing Science Fiction. My Father: the Legacy of George Orwell.

Dr Patricia McManus

Senior Lecturer at Brighton University and author of From Huxley to Eggers: Happy Dystopians.

Richard Blair

George Orwell is one of the world’s most influential writers, the visionary author of Animal Farm and Nineteen Eighty-Four, and his eyewitness, non-fiction classics Down and Out in Paris in London, The Road to Wigan Pier and Homage to Catalonia.

His adoptive son, Richard, was born in 1944 and became an engineer. After a career in the agricultural industry, he became increasingly involved with the Orwell Prize and Orwell Youth Prize, now called the Orwell Foundation. In 2011 he became Patron of the Orwell Society, and now talks on the legacy of his famous father. 

George Orwell was born Eric Blair in India in 1903 into a ‘lower-upper-middle class’ family and a father who served the British Empire (Orwell’s own first job was as a policeman in Burma). 

By the time of Orwell’s death in 1950 he was world-renowned as a journalist and author: for his eyewitness reporting on war and poverty, and for his political and cultural commentary, where he stood up to power and said the unsayable (‘If liberty means anything at all it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear’); and for his fiction, including two of the greatest novels ever written: Animal Farm and Nineteen Eighty-Four.  His clear writing and political purpose have inspired and influenced countless journalists, authors and others, of all political persuasions and none, in the generations since. 

. Now aged twenty-eight, The Last is her first novel for Penguin.

Kevin Brooks

Kevin Brooks has written thirteen Young Adult novels, three adult crime fiction novels, and a number of stories for younger readers. His books are published all over the world, and he has twice won the esteemed Jugendliteraturpreis in Germany. In 2014 his novel The Bunker Diary was awarded the Carnegie Medal for children’s literature, and last year saw the release of a feature film based on his book iBoy.

Kevin lives in North Yorkshire with his wife and a bunch of animals.