Exclusive Evil - Dystopian Authors on Strike
Imagine solidarity, forever.
It’s time to slow down and reconnect with people, which isn’t my thing. Have a bonus article instead. Share it for a Christmas miracle.
Dystopian Authors on Strike
By Dennard Dayle
Update: People power prevails. We thank the board for recognizing our rights. And more importantly, our families’ needs. Our original statement follows.
Labor powers American dreams and nightmares. Our union represents the latter. Dystopian authors face long hours, minimal royalties, and constant misquotes. But we endure to keep visions of soul-erasing oppression going. Now the SFPD plans to deploy killer robots, with city lawmakers’ blessing. Stealing food from our children’s mouths.
We’re human–unlike the killbots. We deserve better. Dystopian Authors United represents the labor behind We, Cyberpunk 2077, and Florida election coverage. “Do it to Julia” is more than a trivia night pullquote or freshman tattoo. It's a founding member’s proud handiwork.
Let’s be clear: government robots blasting the poor into red mist is our intellectual property. Yet not one DAU member was paid, cited, or even consulted by the SFPD. Not even William Gibson, the living father of automated murder. The city supervisors are well aware of our rights, and chose to flout them.
Consider the precedents. Aldous Huxley’s estate gets a piece of every CBD sale. Each animated subway ad buys the full Blade Runner cast a beer. If anyone used the Metaverse, the Wachowskis would get half. Killbots are no different, and the SFPD is guilty of grand larceny.
We’re done being treated like our characters. Until the SFPD pays each member a two-thousand-dollar monthly stipend, or ceases killbot-infringement, DAU is on strike.
Every noun-punk novel will be delayed. All copies of Gattaca and Brazil will be forcibly removed from public and private collections. The sixth season of The Handmaid’s Tale will cover the Commanders’ sensitivity training. All non-Animorphs young adult fiction will cease publication, along with the second half of Animorphs. Every copy of Fahrenheit 451 will self-immolate. Live access to Kazuo Ishiguro will be limited to union members of at least five years. Children of Men ends on a high note, so you can keep that.
You will enter the ultimate nightmare: a world that can’t imagine one. You might not be pleased with where things go from there.
We haven’t made this choice lightly. SFPD killbots overtly infringe DAU intellectual property. We let members borrow ideas from each other, in order to craft the best dictatorships possible. That doesn’t mean free concepting for government agencies. If the SFPD can cover leave for every officer that shatters an unarmed child’s spine, it can pay for the literature inspiring them.
This is also, frankly, about creative standards. Police killbots in 2022 are pure hackwork. Robocop has two sequels, a reboot, and multiple confrontations with Batman. Let DAU alumni Edward Neumeier and Michael Miner’s work rest, instead of picking bones that have fought both Aliens and Predators. It’s time to explore fresh creative territory.
Why not turn the city into one giant prison, where every citizen is simultaneously an inmate, informant, and guard? Why not divide citizens into Bronze Age clans and make them compete for water? Why not return the executive branch to the Republican Party? You’re rehashing old apocalypses, when there’s a shining new world of oppression to explore. Did you even consider lobotomizing minor drug offenders?
Our reach isn’t limited to the arts. DAU represents doomsayers in opinion columns, rapture-focused faiths, and Tucker Carlson’s imagination. Without our members, multiple industries and institutions will grind to a complete halt. We can’t support an economy that doesn’t support us.
Try to see our perspective. Generations of writers, artists, and colorists dedicated themselves to painting total authoritarian misery in the pages of Judge Dredd. They perfected the bloodstained, hateful face of a dead system. Then the SFPD stole their ideas without sending a cent towards London. We’d be fools to let them get away with it twice.
Crafting hellscapes has become hell. We withstood dying audience attention spans, dying audience buying power, and dying audiences. But losing killbots is a bridge too far. Look at your boots, and remember who told you they could stomp a human face forever.
PS: To our brothers on the railroad: stay strong. We can imagine a world where your humanity is erased for collective convenience. But we’d rather not.
Loved this one!
I've been using this stock line for a while now: "Every future dystopia comes true." That said, I've always been partial to Demolition Man, which captures the extreme cultural bifurcation we're living through suprisingly well.