INTERVIEW: Genevieve Valentine, Author of “Is This Your Day to Join the Revolution?”

Tell us a bit about your story. What’s it about?

“Is This Your Day to Join the Revolution?” is about a near-future dystopia in which, among other social policies, a common and effective tool of control is seemingly-informational propaganda videos, and what happens when people start to question what’s presented as the truth.

What was the genesis of the story–what was the inspiration for it, or what prompted you to write it?

There are an endless collection of 1950/60s “informational” films available online, covering everything from how to attend prom to how to protect against nuclear fallout. Mystery Science Theatre 3000 did an excellent job of holding several of these up for what they were (some of the greatest unintentional comedy ever), but the idea that, at one time, they had been taken in all seriousness becomes more chilling the more you watch; you begin to realize that whoever distributed these videos worked with equal fervor telling you how to give a speech in public and how to escape a nuclear blast, and just because we know it’s bunk now doesn’t mean it wasn’t effective propaganda then.

It was a short path from there to writing about their resurgence; I wouldn’t be surprised if several news channels are on the verge of implementing them already.

What kind of research did you have to do for the story?

I have watched a truly obscene amount of short instructional films in the making of this short story. (Some of them were just for fun; some of them were because I just could not look away.)

What is the appeal of dystopian fiction? Why do so many writers–or you yourself–write about it? Why do readers love it so much?

I think the main reason people write dystopian fiction is because it allows a writer to apply the sparkly mantle of fiction to often-pointed critique that might be written off as conspiracy theory or slammed as attack on the government if presented as nonfiction. (“You Guys, We Will Be Completely Screwed by Invasive Government in the Near Future — I am Guessing 1984-ish” just doesn’t have the same ring to it.)

It also has the advantage of being a world in which your character can face any number of governmental perils, which always makes for a good yarn.

What are some of your favorite examples of dystopian fiction, and what makes them your favorites?

There are some really amazing examples across the board, from Brave New World straight on through Little Brother, but my all-time favorite is still The Handmaid’s Tale. I read that when I was in middle school; scared me pantsless then, scares me pantsless now.