Okay, so I made that word up, from the Greek roots of the word “middle” and “place” because I really think there needs to be some sort of alternative to the unrealistic idea of utopia and the dour-as-all-get-out dystopia that’s all the rage.
I understand the popularity of dystopias because I enjoy many of them myself. The idea of looking at the world as it is and wondering how bad things could get, wondering if we’d land on the “right” side of things. Growing up my friends and I would play a similar game of what-if but through the lens of the past: if we were in Paris or Italy or Austria in the late 1930s, or even Germany, would we have done the right thing, would we have joined the Resistance? We’d like to think we’d know to do the right thing, and its these sudden shifts in the ideological ground that makes a dystopia fascinating.
But when you look up the word utopia, and then its antonym, you find that the opposite of a perfect world is hell. Dystopia is hell on earth. And all the hope in the world ladled into the ending of YA dystopias cannot hide the fact that hope is merely a band-aid on hell, a word of cheer meant to let the reader close their eyes and pretend it never happened, that it was all a bad dream, and that everything would get better from that moment onward.
Reality is never that clean. In fact, it’s rather messy.
You know what, I don’t particularly like this partisanship in fiction, I don’t like this idea of black or white with no middle ground. I love me some good dystopia but I’m feeling starved from a lack of a more positive visionary substance. I want to see something in between, the messitopia, a future with human complications but not at the brink of using its children for blood sport or shuttering us in a post-global warming nightmare or forcing us into protective domes that keep the ugliness of the outside world at bay. I would hope that there are writers out there with enough imagination who could deliver an action-packed tale of a future where we got somethings right but still had some kinks to work out.
Give us a future to hold onto, not one to fear.