The New Hot in the (Old) Cold World

Adolescent Angst and the Contemporary Scene


The protagonist’s role in dystopian fiction is often seen as a heroic one: after falling in love with a rebel—erotic love being banned in Dystopia—the central character engages in apparently insurrectionary activity. This is bound to fail, for by definition dystopias are places where it is already ‘too late’ to act, worlds where ‘there is no longer a possibility of resistance’. The affective frame of dystopian fiction is thus not the future but the present; its aim being not to propose that heroic action can influence as yet unrealized scenarios, but to shock us with ‘the horror of what might follow if action is not taken now’. Though such stories assume that social worlds can become so congealed that they can prohibit real change, is this actually the case? Does reality work that way? In ‘Offred’s Complicity and the Dystopian Tradition in Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale’, Allan Weiss reviews an array of approaches to this problem in dystopian literature. It is also at the core of Dominic Fox’s Cold World: The Aesthetics of Dejection and the Politics of Militant Dysphoria