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How Popular Dystopia Allows Us To Keep Real Horrors At Arm's Length | The Huffington Post

How Popular Dystopia Allows Us To Keep Real Horrors At Arm's Length | The Huffington Post EDITION US عربي (Arabi) Australia Brasil Canada Deutschland España France Ελλάδα (Greece) India Italia 日本 (Japan) 한국 (Korea) Maghreb México Québec (En Francais) United Kingdom United States INFORM • INSPIRE • ENTERTAIN • EMPOWER NEWS WorldPost Highline Science Education Weird News Business TestKitchen Tech College Media POLITICS Pollster Election Results Eat the Press HuffPost Hill Candidate Confessional So That Happened ENTERTAINMENT Sports Comedy Celebrity Books Entertainment TV Arts + Culture WELLNESS Healthy Living Travel Style Taste Home Weddings Divorce Sleep GPS for the Soul WHAT'S WORKING Impact Green Good News Global Health VOICES Black Voices Latino Voices Women Fifty Religion Queer Voices Parents Teen College VIDEO ALL SECTIONS Arts + Culture Black Voices Books Business Candidate Confessional Celebrity College Comedy Crime Divorce Dolce Vita Eat the Press Education Election Results Entertainment Fifty Good News Green Healthy Living Highline Home Horoscopes HuffPost Data HuffPost Hill Impact Latino Voices Media Outspeak Parents Politics Pollster Queer Voices Religion Science Small Business So That Happened Sports Style Taste Tech Teen TestKitchen Travel TV Weddings Weird News Women WorldPost FEATURED GPS for the Soul Hawaii OWN Dr. Phil Quiet Revolution Talk to Me Don't Stress the Mess Endeavor Fearless Dreamers Generation Now Inspiration Generation Paving the Way The Power Of Humanity Sleep + Wellness What's Working: Purpose + Profit What's Working: Small Businesses ARTS & CULTURE How Popular Dystopia Allows Us To Keep Real Horrors At Arm's Length Dystopia isn't warning us about anything that isn't already happening. So why don't we take it seriously? 11/16/2016 10:59 am ET 110 Claire Fallon Culture Writer, The Huffington Post Mark Makela / Reuters When I woke up last Wednesday and drifted, husk-like, into the office, the world felt warped. The Brooklyn streets around me, which voted by roughly nine-to-one margins to elect Hillary Clinton , were emptier than usual. People I passed looked stricken, sick, puffy-eyed and mournful. At my desk, I told my editor, “It feels like we’re living in a dystopian novel. Actually, it specifically feels like we’re living in Philip Roth’s The Plot Against America.” (The book is an alternative history that imagines the unnerving potential fallout if Nazi sympathizer Charles Lindbergh had run and defeated Franklin Delano Roosevelt in the 1940 presidential election.) I thought of the flashback scene in Margaret Atwood’s speculative fiction The Handmaid’s Tale when Offred, the heroine, first realizes that the rise of the Republic of Gilead will mean real, substantive changes to her life: Women are fired en masse from their jobs and their access to bank accounts frozen. One of Offred’s feminist buddies, Moira, is eerily jazzed about this, “as if this was what she’d been expecting for some time and now she’d been proven right.”  I kept thinking of dystopias I now inhabited, thanks to Trump’s election. But, of course, none of those dystopias were real. As outlets including Esquire and Slate have felt compelled to point out in the last week: Donald Trump is real . This is not a fantasy novel . Yet as an avid reader, a pop culture buff, and an advocate for the power of fiction, fantasy was the frame through which his candidacy made sense for me. As the reality should have been sinking in, instead I felt an unwilling suspension of disbelief. Having associated those twists of fate, those lurches toward state-institutionalized authoritarianism and bigotry, with fiction, I found it nearly impossible to associate them with our non-fictional reality. In the run-up to the election, and to some degree in the days since, culture writers and authors have remarked on how neatly Trump’s candidacy and possible governance fit into dystopian paradigms. A Trump presidency would be like Westeros . Like The Plot Against America . Like The Man in the High Castle . Like Panem . Like “ The Maddaddam” trilogy, or nearly any other Atwood dystopia . Like  “The Walking Dead” and other post-apocalyptic shows. It felt shocking to many who wrote and read these dark speculative fictions that Americans could embrace a man whose approach to leadership seemed to embody the core traits of many dystopian antagonists. Sci-fi writer John Scalzi wrote in the Los Angeles Times on Nov. 4, “Dystopias are fantastic in fiction. But do you really want to live in one? ” He joked, “Jeez, haven’t any of [Trump’s] followers ever read a dystopian novel? Don’t they get what they’re signing up for?” On Election Day, The Atlantic’s Sophie Gilbert pointed out, “ speculative fiction provides a framework for mapping out the future. And it resonates particularly in a moment when reality already seems to be pervaded with a sense of fear.” Fusion, BuzzFeed and the Boston Globe, Gilbert noted, had both turned to dystopian fictions ― a diary