Doireann Ní Ghríofa: A Ghost in the Throat
One interesting product of dystopian fiction is the new perspective it offers on the real world we are living in. That is the case in the novels discussed today. Oana Aristide’s Under the Blue was written before the pandemic hit but with uncanny timing it envisages a world hit by a devastating virus much more lethal than Covid-19.
Only a handful of people are left alive, and three of them flee Britain and head south for Africa, terrified of radiation from nuclear meltdowns. Meanwhile Courttia Newland’s dystopia, A River Called Time, takes place in Dinium City, an alternative London. It’s an ingenious conceit: a world different from our own because key events in deep history have been changed. Instead of slavery and colonialism, the world has seen much greater technological progress. But inequality and air pollution are just as evident as in 21st century Britain.
Both novels are vividly imagined worlds, and both offer plenty of talking points about the world we live in today.