Unwelcome consequences: Christina Dalcher’s Vox and John Lanchester’s The Wall
Adelheid RundholzCankaya University
Adelheid Rundholz is a native of Cologne, Germany, and a professor of Comparative Literature and French. She has presented papers and published on world literature, literature of migration, graphic novels, and cinema. Her research interests are comparative literature, literary theory, literature of migration, genre, and translation.
The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientistsʼ Doomsday Clock, first introduced in 1947, recently moved the fictional clock forward; it now rests at 100 seconds to midnight, or 100 seconds from destroying ourselves. The numerous threats posed by nuclear weapons, pandemics, weaponized technology, and catastrophic climate change create an ʻenvironment of miseryʼ in which all action—and all inaction—is fraught with risk. Two recent novels employ dystopian visions of the United States and Britain, respectively, and explore the consequences of social engineering that takes place to minimize (perceived) risks and increase safety. Dalcherʼs Vox (2018) and Lanchesterʼs The Wall (2019) are two novels that are a commentary on a world in which risk is pervasive and in which (in)action can exacerbate dire circumstances. At the same time, the novels highlight that local (national) action is doomed to fail if it does not also consider the global interconnectedness of challenges and risks.
Keywords:contemporary fiction, dystopian, risk, authoritarianism, oppression
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