My wife and I have Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix on in the background as we work this evening. I’m really impressed by their rendering of the Ministry of Magic, which is an interesting mix of Gothic revival, 1920s Art Deco (particularly all the dark tile), and Brazil. It’s wonderfully dark and dsytopian– equal parts George Edmund Street and Terry Gilliam– and it makes me wonder: why does the best dystopian fiction come out of Britain?

Of course, the Russians did some damn good stuff too, but it seems to me that the British work– including Koestler, Orwell, Burgess, Huxley, et al– is incomparable.

The Oxford English Dictionary’s first reference to the term “dystopia” is:

1868 J. S. MILL in Hansard Commons 12 Mar. 1517/1 It is, perhaps, too complimentary to call them Utopians, they ought rather to be called dys-topians, or caco-topians. What is commonly called Utopian is something too good to be practicable; but what they appear to favour is too bad to be practicable.