Robert T. Tally Jr., The Fiction of Dread: Dystopia, Monstrosity and Apocalyse – Bloomsbury, December 2023

Robert T. Tally Jr., The Fiction of Dread: Dystopia, Monstrosity and Apocalyse – Bloomsbury, December 2023

At the dawn of the 20th century, a wide-ranging utopianism dominated popular and intellectual cultures throughout Europe and America. However, within just a few years, dystopia would overtake utopia in the public imagination. 

In the aftermath of the World Wars, with such canonical examples as Brave New World and Nineteen-Eighty-Four, dystopia appeared to have become a dominant genre, in literature and in social thought more generally. The continuing presence and eventual dominance of dystopian themes in popular culture – e.g., dismal authoritarian future states, sinister global conspiracies, post-apocalyptic landscapes, a proliferation of horrific monsters, and end-of-the-world fantasies – have confirmed the degree to which the 21st is also a dystopian century. 

Drawing on literature such as varied as H.G. Wells’s The Time Machine, Neil Gaiman’s American Gods, and Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, and on TV and film such as The Walking DeadGame of Thrones, and The Lord of the Rings, Robert T. Tally Jr. explores the landscape of angst created by the monstrous accumulation of dystopian material. The Fiction of Dread provides an innovative reading of the present cultural climate and offers an alternative vision for critical theory and practice in a moment in which, as has been famously observed, it is easier to imagine the end of the world than the end of capitalism.

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