the Little Red Reviewer

Utopia or Dystopia? it’s all in where you’re standing (duh)

Posted on: August 2, 2020

Of the three things I’m talking about today, I have finished reading exactly one of them:


Dread Nation by Justina Ireland (the one that I have finished) – I have so, so much to say about this book. But as pertains to this particular blog post, what I expected was 300 pages of zombie thwacking action, what I got was that the zombies aren’t the real monsters, the racists are.   Fun read, great characters,  I highly recommend.


Machine’s Last Testament by Benjanun Sriduangkaew – I’m about 2/3 of the way through this far future space opera/spy thriller/escape the AI story. Prisoners of War are brought to the planet Anatta, to see if they are worthy of citizenship.  The worldspanning AI Samsara controls all aspects of Anatta, studies humanity, and systematically attacks all other human settlements, bringing more prisoners to Anatta. You can’t even tell your best friend your secrets, because Samsara is always listening.  Excellent read, I highly recommend! The story has political intrigue, hidden identities, romance,  and oh yeah, freakin’ gorgeous prose. (if you were one of those people who loved the prose of This is How You Lose The Time War, but wished that there was more there there, Machine’s Last Testament is the book for you. the two titles are about the same length, too)


I watched the first two episodes of Brave New World on Peacock (it was free). Not sure if I’ll continue in the series, and it’s probably been ten years since I read the book, so couldn’t tell you how faithful the TV show is. Anyway. . .  in the future, everyone is happy, all the time. Not feel super happy? Take a drug that will make you happy.  Privacy is unheard of,  as is being raised with a family.  Want to experience the filth and unhealthyness of the horrible past? Visit a theme park to see a shotgun wedding, nuclear families, and natural pregnancies.  I’ll reread the book, but am undecided on if I’ll continue w/the show. I liked the art direction, but the garbage quality subtitles* were a huge turn off.


Through a perfect storm of coincidence, I am reading/watching all of these things at the same time, and my brain went flippity flop, and found the common ground between these three stories:


the people running the show – the white leaders in Dread Nation, Samsara, whoever runs the city in Brave New World – these people LOVE what they’ve created.  They have made a city on the hill where everyone is safe and happy and protected  . . .  and where everyone knows their place.  And the people actually living there?  eh, if they only accepted their place, they’d be happy too, right?


I think that’s what hit me so hard –  that the people living there, they are told to be happy in their place. Know your place. Stay in your lane. Be thankful we’ve found a place for you here. Others of your kind aren’t this deserving. You should be thankful.   Your superiors know what’s best for you.  (excuse me, I just threw up in my mouth a little)

The Black people in Dread Nation who are put on the front lines of the zombie apocalypse because their “natural place” is to keep white people safe?   Suzhen  in Machine’s Last Testament who stoically keeps her mouth shut and refuses offers of friendship (and more) because she is afraid of losing her hard earned citizenship? Suzhen surrenders to her AI companion who encourages her to be social, not because she wants to, but she because her existence depends on keeping Samsara happy.   I guess I better reread Brave New World so that I can finish this paragraph, but something about Beta’s being thankful to be allowed in the presence of Alpha’s.


The people in charge push (or force) society to think just like they think.  And they way to “be happy” is to know your place and never question  anything, allowing for your own survival but also allowing the power imbalance to continue.


if you’re making the rules, it’s utopia. Samsara is incapable of seeing anything but her own point of view. Of course her way is the right way!

if you’re stuck living in them, it’s dystopia.

it’s all matter of where you’re standing.

Anyway, that’s what I’ve been thinking about these last few days, and those are the books I’ve been reading.   I have SO MUCH MORE to say about Dread Nation,  my brain is still percolating through it all.  I also expect to have a TON TO SAY about Machine’s Last Testament, because I freaking LOVE IT.

I also started watching the TV show How to Get Away With Murder. it’s got a bunch of seasons, so should keep me out of trouble for a while.

I’ve been craving Cheesy Bread Sticks,  you know, the cheesy garlic bread stuff you get from the take out pizza place?  I need an afternoon where I can make some gluten free pizza crust, and cover it in garlic butter and cheese and pop it in the oven for 20 minutes.  omg, yum!  I hope!


Now it’s your turn –

what have you been reading/watching lately?

your thoughts on utopia/dystopia?

Have you had that experience, where you find yourself consuming unconnected media, that by sheer coincidence has far more in common than you thought?

eaten/cooked anything interesting lately?

and THIS STUFF!!  that stuff was my childhood!  and now I can make it at home!


Have a good week everyone!



* Due to some sensory processing issues, I watch nearly everything with the subtitles on.  the tv show/movie will have a images and colors and design elements, and a soundtrack, and probably background noise, AND people talking.  my brain blends it all together, making it nearly impossible for me to follow a story line by listening to what people are saying.  Being able to read subtitles helps me separate what people are saying from all the other sensory input, and I can more easily follow the storyline and the script.  I can not reasonably explain this.  Subtitles help me enjoy TV much more.

8 Responses to "Utopia or Dystopia? it’s all in where you’re standing (duh)"

I watch everything with subtitles too! I agree, it just makes shows better. And if the subtitles don’t match? It makes me bonkers.


I always laugh when they are different. Did you see the Neflix show “Dark”? (Excellent German time travel drama!) We watched the first season dubbed over in English, but with subtitles, and the subtitles hardly ever matched! it was actually really funny, if distracting.


I haven’t seen that one!


it’s good, I highly recommend!


Ooooo … I have a post on utopias percolating at the moment so especially interesting to see this post now!
Also interested to read that you watch everything with subtitles. I find I get sensory overload really quickly if there are too many sounds and find subtitles a huge help in this.


Yay, I have good timing!

sensory overload while watching tv or listening to the radio is the weirdest thing. it’s like, my brain thinks the colors and images and music and sounds ARE the script, and people’s voices often just register as one syllable after another after another that don’t signify into words. For years I thought I was just “easily distracted” or maybe had a hearing problem, but no, i’m not distracted and my hearing tests fine, just everything gets mushed together in my brain, and I need a way to separate out one of the information streams. or something. this doen’t explain well. so yay subtitles!

Liked by 1 person

Well described. 🙂
I usually describe it as everything being the same volume, voices, music, conversation, background noise …

Liked by 1 person

yes yes! your description sounds so similar for me!

Liked by 1 person

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FTC Stuff

some of the books reviewed here were free ARCs supplied by publishers/authors/other groups. Some of the books here I got from the library. the rest I *gasp!* actually paid for. I'll do my best to let you know what's what.
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