Saturday, November 24, 2007

A Cornucopia of 'topias

by Brian Mullen

I have decided what my next project is going to be. It's an idea that's been floating around in my head for about a year since my wife and I went to see the movie Children of Men. For those who haven't seen it, the movie is a dystopia which is the perfect segue into a quick vocabulary lesson.

UTOPIA: Basically a future paradise. It was a term invented by English lawyer turned novelist Sir Thomas More. In 1515 he published a book entitled Utopia which told the tale of a traveler to an island where the government was More's idea of perfection. The word itself basically translates into "no place."

DYSTOPIA: The exact opposite - a future which is bleak and often based on a pessimistic series of events. The most famous of these may be Orwell's 1984 where the totalitarian government "Big Brother is watching you" reigns supreme. Fahrenheit 451 is another well known example.

And lastly a FRUITOPIA is any future which is both thirst-quenching and chock full of Vitamin C.

Back to our story. As the wife and I left the movie she asked the inevitable question, "So what did you think?" As it is my default nature, I used the opportunity to make a joke. "Worst comedy ever." Then, as is her default nature, she rolled her eyes as if to ask, "Why do I even bother to ask him questions?"

But the joke lingered with me. Dystopian comedy. There must be some, though I could not think of any off the top of my head (where I keep such knowledge incidentally). A quick search on the internet reminded me of Terry Gilliam's film Brazil and Woody Allen's Sleeper. I also found a few movies I had never heard of - but no novels appeared in my searches. Are there no dystopian comedy novels I wondered.

That was enough of a spark to start me imagining a silly world where the most absurd aspects of our lives get blown even more out of proportion. And now I believe I have the essentials straight in my mind. I have my POV character, I have my theme, I have an idea of my setting (though it will need more fleshing out), I have my outline for Act I, I know how Act III will go, I have a two sentence synopsis of what Act II needs to accomplish (though there are still holes you can drive a freight train through). In short what I know is enough for me to start writing and see how the story unfolds and, more importantly, IF it will unfold.

So, armed with my sense of humor in my one hand and a caffeinated beverage in the other, I prepare to tackle what our colleague Mike has recently reminded us is our true enemy - the blank page - secure in the knowledge that I can best the blank page by, if nothing else, spilling my beverage on it.


Annette said...

Sounds to me like you've got an interesting concept there, Brian. Go for it!

Tory said...

Congratulations, Brian, on coming up with your next idea and besting that blank page!

So interesting to see, through your blogs, the process of coming up with a story.

Gina said...

But, Brian -- aren't we living in a dystopian comedy? Or don't you watch The Daily Show?

mike said...

Oh, what's a couple sheets of wet paper when you have such a great idea percolating in your head. Very fascinating, I must say, a comedic dystopia. Hmmm, I can see all kinds of possibilities, and I bet you can see even more. Will there be a murder or two---hmmm, now that I write that, can see it would be hard to find any humor there. Anyway, go for it, and above all else, have fun.