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Saturday, January 14, 2012

Open Minds author Susan Kaye Quinn Guest post + Giveaway!

It's the sixth day of our blog event, Dystopian Domination!

Today we have Susan Kaye Quinn talking about what "Dystopia" means for her. Susan's got a great insight about the genre, which is the main theme of this blog event, so it's worth taking a look. Enjoy!

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Dystopias: Forging Hope for Humanity
by Susan Kaye Quinn

I have always read dystopian novels, before they were a popular thing (recently in young adult novels), and before I even really thought of “dystopia” as a label. I just called the futuristic tales of mind-bending alternate realities that I loved “science fiction.”

Stories like I, Robot by Asimov (originally published in 1950), one of the first stories that made me really think about what it meant to be human. A recurring theme of the science fiction of my youth was to examine humanity through the lens of a not-human character (in this case a robot), and I soaked stories like this up, filling my spongy adolescent brain with concepts like the Three Laws of Robotics. Asimov’s Foundation series similarly blew my mind with the idea that mathematical predictions of the future couldn’t guarantee a utopia, as long as the flawed nature of humanity still existed. This is where I first understood the term “dystopia” as what usually happened when humans tried to monkey with society to make it “better.”

What I loved about these stories was that they were thought experiments. They took an idea and ran with it, playing it out into the future. What if robots really became sentient? What if we could really predict the future? Not only did I enjoy the mental gymnastics that went with these (usually cautionary) tales, I felt like they were the “equipment for living” that Kenneth Burke speaks of. I used these stories to form my young adult thoughts about the future—what it should be, and what it should not.

Many people call my novel Open Minds a dystopia, although I didn’t think of it explicitly as that when I was writing it. I thought more in terms of these classic SF stories that have long filled my head. I wanted to take one thing—what if everyone really could read minds?—and play it out. I shouldn’t have been surprised when it turned into an exploration of how the circumstances of the world may change, but human beings fundamentally remain the same.

I think this is the understructure of the current dystopian craze—classical science fiction, retooled for our modern era and sensibilities. Some say the dystopian stories of today are a bleak reflection of our post-911 world, a mirror held up to our fears of environmental disasters, terrorism, and pandemic. I think the world we live in is complex, dangerous, and at times horrifying. I think it also shines with the radiance of aid flowing to natural disasters, soldiers building schools, and an increasing intolerance of hatred as an ideology. This complicated world is rekindling a need for the kinds of thought experiments found in dystopian stories, rather than the world actually spiraling into the abyss.

And I don’t think the dystopian stories of today are any more dismal than the classic stories of the past. Some may be bleak (Forest of Hands and Teeth), but there’s almost always a thread of hope (Across the Universe). Because even when things are dire, even though evil may grip our world, there is always someone who will rebel against the wrongness and attempt to set it right. Hope is a fundamental part of what it means to be human, and stories that forge hope out of the most difficult situations will always be compelling.

And I will want to read (and write) them.


Open Minds by Susan Kaye Quinn
Add to your Goodreads list!

When everyone reads minds, a secret is a dangerous thing to keep.

Sixteen-year-old Kira Moore is a zero, someone who can’t read thoughts or be read by others. Zeros are outcasts who can’t be trusted, leaving her no chance with Raf, a regular mindreader and the best friend she secretly loves. When she accidentally controls Raf’s mind and nearly kills him, Kira tries to hide her frightening new ability from her family and an increasingly suspicious Raf. But lies tangle around her, and she’s dragged deep into a hidden world of mindjackers, where having to mind control everyone she loves is just the beginning of the deadly choices before her.
Open Minds is now out in Paperback on Amazon and available as an ebook on Smashwords.


Grab the chance to read this book! I will be posting my review in a few and I can tell you that it's good! It's open to international participants since it's an e-book.

Answer this question: If you can read the mind of just one person, who would it be and why? (Answer this or your entries will not count! I will check!)

a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. I would read my fiancee's mind because I'm kind of insecure and intrusting. I'm glad I can't read minds. I wouldn't want to know all the negative things that people think.

  2. It would definitely be someone like Albert Einstein or Stephen J. Hawking! I'm a total fail at math and it would be incredible to (even for a minute) be able to "see" the world through a mathematical / physics eye.....

    elizabeth @ bookattict . com

  3. no1 reading minds could go wrong but exiting

    tnx 4 giveaway

  4. I love your comment "Hope is a fundamental part of what it means to be human, and stories that forge hope out of the most difficult situations will always be compelling." I think that is what is so appealing about the classics (new and old). The triumph of good over bad often requires a dire situation in the beginning.

    If I could read minds I would read the mind of my (currently fictional) future significant other.

  5. All I want to do is read them, too! They're some of my favorites.

  6. If i could read minds... I would choose someone like Steve Jobs or any other billionaires :D take all their secrets away jkjk

  7. Would love to win a copy of this book what a different concept!

  8. It's a very hard decision, I really don't know..
    Thanks for this GA ^^


  9. This book sounds really interesting! I think if I could read someone's mind it'd be my sister. She has her moments of silence and one word answers and I'd love to know what's bothering her so I could try to fix it!

  10. I would pick one of my kids, whoever is getting into the most trouble at the time that I get the power!!

  11. I love the truths about human nature being flawed, but still, there is hope and those who try to right the wrong.

  12. Seems we read sci-fi for the very same reasons, that and the lazors...pew...pew...pew!


  13. I would like to say my husband but at the same time no... I don't know if I would want to read the mind of anyone. I would be afraid of 'reading' bad thoughts and thoughts I don't want to know about. That is a tricky one...

  14. I can't think of someone in particular, but it would be helpful at times to be able to turn it on and off.

  15. Thanks for this awesome post! Recently, one of my creative writing students was lamenting the popularity of Dystopian novels, but I think it's a great avenue of thought-provoking science fiction.
    Loved Open Minds, and can't wait to read the next book!

  16. I'm pretty new to dystopian novels, but I'm not sure I would categorize a story like The Hunger Games as retooled science fiction? I'm always up for finding some hope in any genre, anywhere!


I love getting comments from my readers and fellow bookworms, and I try my best to respond to all of them. Feel free to give me a piece of your thoughts. Also, this is an award-free blog. I simply don't have the time to highlight them anymore, but thank you for thinking of my blog!

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