A dystopia is a society characterized by a focus on that which is contrary to the author's ethos, such as mass poverty, public mistrust and suspicion, a police state or oppression. Most authors of dystopian fiction explore at least one reason why things are that way, often as an analogy for similar issues in the real world. Dystopian literature is used to "provide fresh perspectives on problematic social and political practices that might otherwise be taken for granted or considered natural and inevitable".

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. Until the late 20th century it was usually anti-collectivist. Most experts in literature agree that the origins of dystopian fiction are rooted strongly in utopian fiction. Dystopian fiction emerged as a response to utopian fiction, a good example is Edward Bellamy’s 1888 best-selling novel "Looking Backward", about a socialist utopia set in 2000. Dystopian fiction usually has satirical elements interwoven in it. It is based on imagined scenarios rather than real ones, but they are incorporated into storylines that readers can relate to the present.

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