Atlas Shrugged

Atlas Shrugged is one of those books I’ve been meaning to read for some time. I’m a little intimidated by the 1,000 plus pages and have procrastinated because of it. I can’t complain too much because I’m reading The Girl With Dragon Tattoo, and that is roughly 600 pages in paperback. Maybe it’s good practice Atlas Shrugged? (number of pages not content!)

The movie for Atlas Shrugged came out this weekend, and I’m motivated to read the book. I prefer to read the book then the movie (Water for Elephants comes out this month!). I’ve never tried it the other way although I wouldn’t mind getting my hands on The Godfather or The Shining.

Like all books that become movies, if Atlas Shrugged the movie is sub par, I don’t want it to ruin my reading experience.

I’ve heard nothing but great things about the book so I know I won’t regret the time investment. Movie wise, I’m hearing mixed reviews. Rotten Tomatoes didn’t have anything too positive. I’m hearing and reading a lot of words like “low-budget” and “unfamiliar cast” which never spell anything good for a movie. In this situation, it’s the message that’s important.

I understand the movie to be the anthem for conservatism . I guess, it depends on who you talk to. Ayn Rand wasn’t a Republican, but she wasn’t a Democrat either. I’ve learned she was an individualist and devoted much of her efforts to fighting communism. I can get behind that. I worry the book does a better job conveying the message of limited government and self-reliance while the movie is preachy in the same regard and turns people off.

I’ll have to wait and find out. I know that Atlas Shrugged has been regarded as one of the best novels of the 20th century and can’t wait to discover it – right after I’m done with The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo.

Dystopia

For the next few posts I thought it would be interesting to focus on science fiction themes. Dystopia being one of my favorites. What’s not to love about a futuristic society that has gone down the tubes with an overbearing, repressive government?

With in a lot of fiction, the elements of a dystopia are masked by a utopia. Which makes sense. It usually takes an average person to uncover that the utopian society that they live in is not what they seem. Brave New World and Nineteen Eighty-four immediately come to mind. Characters in both novels try to expose their world for what it really is.

Dystopia can also go in a couple different directions rather than just a look at society. Politics and economics are also strong themes prevalent in this subgenre which tend to be oppressive and go over the edge of fanaticism. The best intentions are meant in the outset but corruption and idealism takeover souring what could have been perfection – which leads into the state of dystopia.

I guess what draws me to dystopian themed science fiction (books and movies)  is that main character lives in a world where individual freedoms and expressions have little or no existence. It’s this main character (s) that tries to break through either on a global or personal basis to change the current state of affairs. Typical situations would be a character rising above poverty or a strong handed police force. I think it’s the rising above aspect that interests me. I like underdogs and long shots and that’s typically the type of characters one can expect dystopian fiction.

I can cite numerous examples of my favorite types of dystopian fiction but I’ll just mention a few and welcome any additions from anyone reading this blog:

Books: Fahrenheit 451, Brave New World, Atlas Shrugged, A Clockwork Orange, Children of Men, The Hunger Games, Liberation!

Movies: Blade Runner, Escape from New York, Gattaca, The Running Man, Strange Days, V for Vendetta