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Crapsaccharine World / Literature

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  • And Then There Were None: The house on the island is very clean, bright, well lit, with modernist features, and it is very well organized. The ten guests who enter it don't suspect that such a building would be their doom, with a killer who will attempt to kill you in the most creative way possible.
  • Atlantic Monthly contributing editor Robert D. Kaplan wrote an article about what it would take for world peace — a seemingly admirable goal — to be achieved; it's called "The Dangers of Peace" and can be found in a book of his collected articles titled The Coming Anarchy. The world he describes is not the kind of world one would ever want to live in.
  • Brave New World is of the "bright and shiny" variety of dystopia. Sure, everyone's healthy and has (and is apparently satisfied with) all the toys and drugs they could ever want, but all of them hatch out of bottles and are programmed from birth to be satisfied with their (also pre-programmed) lives, seven-year-olds having sex is considered late, and the whole thing depends on the intentionally-stupidified and drugged-up lower classes and shallow, selfish, immature upper classes. What education there is (which seems to be entirely for the higher classes) focuses almost exclusively on the applied sciences, with very little attention devoted to theoretical science or liberal arts. It's a peaceful, stable society, but one built at the cost of creativity and self-expression—and very few even realize what it is that humanity's lost as a result. Made slightly better by one of the leaders being a relatively Reasonable Authority Figure, and that freethinking people who can't stand the luscious reality have an option to move to remote islands where life is harsher but more open-minded and less restrained (then again, we never see any of the islands), but not by much.
    • What makes this type of dystopia especially scary is that it is perfectly realizable. Huxley wrote his dystopia in 1931, when it felt like a distant horror: the technological evolution has advanced it into 20 Minutes into the Future. This prospect became so scary to Huxley himself that he wrote a warning pamphlet Brave New World Revisited where he stated his book was intended to be a dystopia and warned about things evolving towards his nightmares. Huxley's dystopia has no invaders from outer space, no breaking of natural laws, no speculative technology — most of the things he saw as pure science fiction are everyday stuff today (2016).
  • Pam Bachorz's Candor where life is idyllic and teenagers behave until you find out that everyone is being controlled by Messages played in music that brainwash them without even realising it.
  • The titular factory in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is one of the few positive portrayals of this kind of setting. A mostly cheerful and happy-looking candy factory with dancing Oompa-Loompas who teach children important values but at the same time these children are taught these values in ways that could (and in at least one adaptation may indeed) bring upon their deaths, which would mean that they never truly have a chance to learn from their mistakes. The way Willy Wonka nonchalantly describes these events adds to the atmosphere. In the 1971 film adaptation, sheer luck spares Charlie and Grandpa Joe from what would be the most gruesome death of the bunch. Despite that, the Wonka factory is portrayed in an overall positive manner as a land of wonder and imagination in contrast to the grim outside world... which is full of nasty, foolish, rude, conniving people who seem to get all the breaks in life and feel themselves to be above the rules while the sweet, selfless, rule-following people tend to finish last. Suddenly a place that runs on poetic justice principles doesn't seem quite so bad...
    • Then there's the situation with the Oompa-Loompas, where the cheerful dwarves who do all of the work in the factory have a disturbingly slave-like relationship with Mr. Wonka (in the eyes of some readers, anyway). Part of their jobs is taste-testing Mr. Wonka's various new magical chocolate-and-otherwise recipes, which can have disastrous side-effects, and they get paid in cacao beans and/or chocolate only. On the other hand they have no real need for money, they are given comfortable living spaces inside of the factory, Mr. Wonka treats them well, and, as is noted, the Oompa-Loompas chose this life in preference to their old one — living in a tropical jungle filled with monsters that would eat entire families of Oompa-Loompas at a time, and where the only food they had to eat for all three meals was mashed caterpillars. Paying them in cacao beans rather than money also appears to have been their choice; at least the way Mr. Wonka tells it, he simply offered them that arrangement after seeing how the Oompa-Loompas valued cacao beans above all else.
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  • In John C. Wright's Count To A Trillion, Menelaus only slowly learns the underside of the world he was re-awoken in.
  • Sanctuary, the world of Diablo, is a straight-up Crapsack World, but the tie-in novels show what it's like when it's not being assaulted by The Legions of Hell. It's not actually any better, but it's better at hiding how screwed up it is.
  • Genua from Discworld, when Lilith de Tempscire oversees it. On the surface, it looks like a happy, shiny fairy tale kingdom... because she wants it to be that way. Toymakers are thrown in jail if they aren't able to tell little stories to the children "like they should," thieves are beheaded on first offense, and the Assassin's Guild has packed up and left "because there are some things that sicken even jackals."
  • In Divergent, the faction system is hyped up as the reason that the Chicago society can prosper in a world where everywhere else is practically uninhabitable wasteland and everyone considers it as the right thing to uphold. The first thing signifying that there is a major problem is the existence of the factionless, people who are not accepted in any faction and thus have to live as subhumans, yet everyone accepts it as natural, even the protagonist Tris. Then Tris receives the results of her Aptitude Test which shows that she does not fit in any faction because she is a Divergent, a status which will earn her certain death should the superiors find out about it. This "prosperous" world slowly goes downhill from that point, eventually ending up straight into the Crapsack World territory by the events of the final novel.
  • Istar in Dragonlance eventually devolved into this, as most strongly illustrated by Time of the Twins and the Kingpriest Trilogy. Everything was more peaceful, orderly, and prosperous than anywhere else in the world or any other age- because the Kingpriest had mind-readers seeded throughout the general populace ready to arrest anyone who had evil thoughts. The punishment for these arrests was to be Made a Slave, having a metal collar welded to your flesh and then pitted against other slaves in gladiatorial matches in the style of ancient Rome. Oh, and one of the Kingpriest's advisors was actively planning a genocide of dwarves, kender and other "lesser" species.
  • Alypium from Erec Rex is a bright, shiny Magical Land full of humor, wonder, and all sorts of charming happenings. It's all a hotbed of fiery racism, conspiracy, deep-seated political corruption, and murder.
  • Brandon Mull seems to revel in this. His Fablehaven series starts off cheerfully, with a rather enchanting premise (a nature preserve full of magical creatures! Solve your grandparent's candy-coated mysteries to find out more!), but around the second book, starts showing its true, dark colors. His standalone novel The Candy Shop War is similar, starting out with the Sugar Bowl concept of magical candy and ending up with several near-homicides, Body Horror, Bad Future, and much more.
  • "Fade to White", an Alternate History short story by Catherynne M. Valente is set in a post-World War III United States that deliberately maintains the facade of The Fabulous Fifties — in truth dissent is repressed through drugs and propaganda/advertising, infertile men (and blacks and asians) can be selected by a Lottery of Doom to be sent off to certain death as frontline soldiers in high radiation zones, the few men who are not infertile serve as fathers in rotation to several families, all of whom pretend the others don't exist. Everyone maintains a Stepford Smiler outlook to stop themselves from thinking just how bad things are in reality.
  • Fatherland: Nazi leaders portray their nation as a mighty colossus that will last 1000 years, with extremely large monuments to boot. However, low level officials like March don't enjoy that grandiosity, being confined to rundown apartments. March sees the large monuments as a sign that the Germans all share an inferiority complex.
  • The twin cities of Odessa and Midland, Texas are portrayed as this in Friday Night Lights. At first glance, Odessa is a charming Everytown, America which has remained unchanged since The '50s, free of the drugs and unrest that plague larger urban centres in The '80s. Which comes with all the ugly racism and sexism that entails, it has the highest rate of violent crime per capita in the country and the collapse of the oil industry in the area means the city is rife with poverty. It’s also full of former high school football players broken physically and emotionally by their experiences. Midland meanwhile looks like an exemplar of the New South, with skyscrapers, Ivy League educated residents in fancy suits and wealth to go around. It’s also racist and elitist to it’s core and driven by the kind of unchecked corporate greed that would shame any Northern plutocrat.
  • A Frozen Heart: In this Tie-In Novel to Disney's Frozen, Prince Hans of the Southern Isles' homeland is described as a Police State whose Evil Overlord king reacts violently through Disproportionate Retribution by whipping his subjects in line and beating them into total submission, and it's implied he kills people just for not providing favors or insulting him. In another case, the king's reaction to a "problem" one of his farmers had was to have their farm burned down to the ground and confiscate their livestock. Hans wonders how someone in charge of such a large kingdom "could be so stupid," and it's also one of his driving factors into permanently leaving his homeland, aside from the abuse he witnessed within his large family and desire to earn his neglectful father's respect. The way Hans' thoughts are fleshed out suggest he hates what his father's doing to their subjects and despises being the king's gofer, even though he knew what could happen if he ignored his father's orders. Also, even though he's only appeared so far in a retelling of the original film aimed at older audiences, Hans' father, the king of the Southern Isles, is a much darker character and more vile villain than is typical for the Frozen franchise. An abusive parent and evil dictator who makes even the worst Disney villains look tame compared to him, the king stands out in a franchise of tie-in stories usually focused on such light-hearted concepts such as searching for Christmas traditions, a birthday celebration, and learning the identity of a secret admirer.
  • The Futurological Congress by Stanisław Lem. It's a beautiful utopian future, Earth is green and healthy, every single problem is taken care of, anyone can get the Nobel Prize, people can control weather, their own looks, and their own lifespan without much trouble... only all this is generated by tons of chemical hallucinogens spread in the atmosphere, and really people live on a frozen, overpopulated and starving Earth, some of them are brainwashed into believing they are robots whose job is to spray humans with the hallucinogens, and the chemicals have caused gross mutations in humanity.
  • The Giver is set in a Community which seems to be harmonious, peaceful, and happy. Family units share their feelings, politeness is mandated, and everyone is given a task that suits them. But when Jonas receives memories of what the world was like before, he learns that the Community has completely sacrificed choices, colors, individuality, even love. And when he discovers what it means to be Released to Elsewhere, he realizes that the Community has even traded away basic human dignity and respect.
  • Going Bovine has CESSNAB (Church of Everlasting Satisfaction, Snack and Bowl), a cult that wants everyone to be happy and does so by suppressing all other emotions: the bowling alleys are rigged so you only ever get perfect strikes, the only book you can read preaches more of their messages, and people aren't allowed to be sad, even when they have legitimate reasons. One guy who's upset because his dog died is treated like he's committing a major crime for it. Thankfully, things end up changing.
  • The Great Gatsby show us that the world of the rich is not nice: Tom is a cruel bully because he knows his Glory Days are in the past and he suspects (rightly enough) that no one respects him, Daisy is a Stepford Smiler, both of them are adulterers, alone and scared, and they have to deal with Nouveau Riche delinquents like Gatsby himself — whose only defense is being less of a Jerkass than they are. And the scary part is that Gatsby world is Real Life world. How many of us wouldn't jump at the chance to be rich even knowing this?
    • Gatsby's life is also pretty crapsaccharine — he's a gregarious millionaire who throws lavish parties on a regular basis and lives in a huge estate, but everything about him is a lie. His name is actually James Gatz, he gained his fortune through criminal means, and none of his parties' guests give a damn about him, to the point that only two people other than Nick (one of whom is his father) attend his funeral. He does all this to woo the love of his life away from her unfaithful husband, only to find that she is unwilling to leave him. As a result, he winds up a deeply lonely and unhappy man. "Poor son of a bitch" indeed. The book as a whole heavily deconstructs The American Dream, so it's not surprising that it illustrates how wealth can bring misery instead of happiness.
  • The world of the Kindar in the Green-Sky Trilogy starts here. It's a peaceful utopia where there is no overpopulation, hunger, homelessness, everyone's employed (there is an option for people to change careers, but it's seldom used), crime is so rare as to be a curiosity, violence is unheard of (even two-year-olds squabbling over a toy is a sign of bad parenting), and everyone has Psychic Powers. Scratch the surface and we get widespread narcotic use (in the form of a ritual berry), the psychic powers are fading at earlier ages than ever (the protagonist thinks he's merely average when it turns out he's probably the most powerful psychic on the planet), everything is run by the Ol-Zhaan, the Ol-Zhaan run by a secret cabal in its ranks, and one huge Big Lie keeping all in place. Raamo's recruitment was part of a Batman Gambit on D'ol Falla's part to atone for her actions as the grandmistress of the cabal, and once the Big Lie is uncovered, things start to heal up.
  • Harrison Bergeron, a short story by Kurt Vonnegut. Life is happy, neat, nice and comfortable. Unless you're too far above average, in which case you get to meet the Handicapper General.
  • The Wizarding World in Harry Potter starts as a wondrous, perfect place, and an escape for the main hero from his dreary and miserable life. Then it is gradually revealed that the government is often incompetent; the state prison is a hell-hole where psychological torture is par for the course; keeping slaves is a common practice; and slurs about blood status are thrown about freely by the primarily pureblood upper class. It turns out Voldemort isn't so much a person that totally goes against the ways all wizards think, but merely exemplifies the flaws of their society Up to Eleven. There's even mention that a noticeable amount of people in Wizard society were on Voldemort's side until they saw how far he was willing to go.
  • The Galaxy from The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is very effectively portrayed this way in most of its incarnations. It's a shiny, glistening wonderland of incredible science, technology, and living commodities... inhabited by an ignorant, apathetic, and irresponsible citizenry that chooses to use it all for selfish and nonsensical goals, such as mining the past for resources that are rare in the present (and keeping the future from doing the same) or creating doors and elevators with genuine people personalities. It is also gradually revealed that only the very well-to-do ever get to take advantage of such commodities anyway, a large majority of Galactic citizens being penniless hitchhikers.
  • In The Hunger Games:
    • The Capitol. Everyone there is happy, healthy, and lives a life of luxury and decadence. The price for this utopia? The twelve Districts, full of wage slaves who live in poverty, working themselves to death to provide for the Capitol.
    • The arena of the 50th annual Hunger Games deliberately invokes this trope. At first, it appears to be a beautiful green meadow under a bright blue sky, with a mountain in the distance. But it turns out that everything in it is deadly. The sparkling river water, luscious fruit, and beautiful flowers are all poisonous. All the cute animals are Killer Rabbits, including man-eating carnivorous squirrels that attack in packs, butterflies with lethal stings, and flocks of flamingos with razor-sharp beaks. The "mountain" turns out to be a volcano when it erupts and kills a dozen tributes.
  • Imminent Danger And How To Fly Straight Into It: Features a very pleasant galaxy full of beautiful planets and fascinating technologies that can be used to improve your life. Except a quarter of the galaxy has already been conquered by the evil Rakorsian Empire, various other factions like the Ssrisk are also fighting for control, organizations like Chakra Corp are allowed to conduct horrible experiments and operate above the law, and the only real form of law and order is largely useless.
  • James Bond novels are almost always getting hit hard with this trope. Being a Spy Fiction, James Bond novels particularly set in glamorous cities where it seemed to be nice, but people here and there have bizarre moralities all over the place, and the action scenes can turn any place into this.
  • John Dies at the End's climax takes place in an alternate dimension, where humans live in harmony with nature, having harnessed biotechnology. Kittens are used as relaxing healers. There is no fighting, there is free love and peace. Oh, by the way, said humans are horribly deformed and would love to introduce you to their evil God, who maims entire planets of those who resist and eats people wrapped in bacon. There's a reason why the protagonist deems it "Shit Narnia".
  • From the viewpoint of The Other Light faction in the Left Behind book Kingdom Come, Jesus Christ's Millennial Reign is a utopia for "naturals" as long as they obey God's laws and become believers before they reach 100 years of age — otherwise, they instantly die and go to Hell. Over the course of time, the Other Light does manage to win enough converts with their manifesto claiming God Is Evil because of his 100 years of age limit, so that the world at the end of the Millennium becomes a Crapsack World again, with the Other Light being a massive army ready to defeat God and Jesus Christ when Satan is released. Guess how that turned out!
  • The Magicians is set primarily in a world where magic can accomplish just about anything; the Wizarding School is a picturesque country mansion with glorious secret clubhouses for the magical cliques; graduates have access to an old boy's network that can easily provide them with whatever job or money they need; and once again, since magic can do anything, graduates can do whatever they want, including bleeding-edge magical research, ludicrously massive art projects, or just pure hedonism. Unfortunately, it's also highly dysfunctional: said Wizarding School is ridiculously exclusive, accepting only the uppermost crop of the cream — to the point that the Dean worries that they might not have enough students to start the school year. There's also a good deal of snobbery and resentment between classically-educated Breakbills kids and the Hedge Wizards who learned everything in the hidden clubs and fighting rings of the underworld. Finally, even if you manage to get all the way through the notoriously-difficult Brakebills coursework and graduate, there's nothing to do with your great powers — hence why it's all too easy for magicians to end up trapped in a downward spiral of meaningless luxury and depression.
  • My Posthumous Adventures has a pleasant seaside resort, where people can change their appearance at will, they have cards with a never-ending supply of money, and there are shops and restaurants even for the most refined tastes. However, everyone is bored to death, there are no genuine friendly or romantic relationships, and Easy Amnesia reaches the level when people forget the previous phrase they’ve just spoken. This town is actually one of the outer Circles of Hell.
  • Terahnee in Myst: The Book of D'ni. It looked like such a fantastic place to live — until it was learned that it was built on the backs of slaves who were killed if they made a sound or even saw a slave of the opposite sex. And just in case, they were all neutered, and the Terahnee were trained not to even see them.
  • The Golden City in Lucy Daniel Raby's Nickolai Of The North is a city made of gold, ruled by a lovely and benevolent queen who adores children, with its climate eternally warm in spite of it being situated in the polar region; there are beautiful gardens with swans, peacocks and luminescent fish in the ponds, and festivities are held practically every day. But there are foul, ugly and rude goblins all over the place, the newcomers and everyone who dares to oppose the glorious happiness live in muddy outskirts that rather resemble a prison, and the beautiful young queen is in fact a beastly old witch who steals from children the very essence of childhood, turning them into dull heartless bores whose only goal in life is to serve the Gold City. With that childhood, the queen is able to retain her gorgeous looks. Not to mention she's turned to stone a whole race of elves and plans world domination.
  • Here's what's visible through one of the demon's doorways in Nocturne:
    "... a breathtakingly beautiful landscape, woods and hills and streams under a mellow sun, yet redolent with an aura of complete and implacable evil."
  • Christmasland in NOS4A2, where it's Christmas everyday and unhappiness is against the law. The children who are taken there, however, are drained of their souls and changed into creatures who thrive on cruelty.
  • Ursula K. Le Guin's The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas is like this — everyone is happy and rejoicing, and then you find out that all their happiness depends on this one child being continuously, abjectly miserable. That child is kept hidden in a basement, starving. And every adult knows about it. The ones who walk away are those that can't bear the knowledge and leave, though it's hinted they're going to somewhere better.
  • In the 1987 picture book Hey, Al. Al and his dog, Eddie, are transported to a magical utopia ruled by birds. Their life there is at first heavenly, but soon becomes terrifying as they realize they are slowly being turned into birds themselves. Think of Pleasure Island from Pinocchio, but even more freakish.
  • In A Song of Ice and Fire:
    • The city of Qarth. It seems like a Shining City were everything is beautiful and its people are courteous and civilized. Beneath the shiny exterior lies an economy built on slavery and politics dominated by a bureaucracy impassible to those without inside knowledge, poisoned wine, and assassins. And the city's Ancient Tradition, the warlocks? They invite people to their headquarters so their leadership can feed on their life energy.
    • Several of the Free Cities qualify. Lys is a tropical island paradise nestled in the warm waters of the Summer Sea. The Dragonlords of Valyria created "Lys the Lovely" to be a pleasure resort with beautiful climate, good wine, and beautiful people. So where's the crap in this? Those beautiful people are sex slaves, kidnapped en masse by pirates, corsairs, and slave merchants from all over the world. Lys's fortunes and fame rests upon being a massive whorehouse of beautiful slaves.
    • Volantis as well. Proudest and oldest daughter of Old Valyria, rich, mighty, and boasting of magnificent structures like the Long Bridge and the Black Walls. But the crap is becoming very noticeable through the cracks, as any astute observer can spot the city's decay as discontentment rises among the slaves (the overwhelming majority of the city's population) and the corrupt warhawk administrators try to pacify the situation with heads mounted on pikes.
    • King's Landing itself is a pigsty as everyone agrees, but the Royal Court appeared to be a wonderful world of courtly romance, glamour, balls, and tourneys from Sansa's viewpoint. At the beginning at least. Until the crap utterly overwhelms the saccharine.
    • The island of Naarth, birthplace of Missandei and her brothers, is notorious for this. It's a stunningly beautiful tropical or semi-tropical paradise also found in the Summer Sea. It comes with thousands of colourful flowers, fruits and butterflies, gorgeous beaches, a strangely pacifistic society that lacks for no resources, one Valyerian blackstone fort... and with a horrific situational disease that the population has developed an immunity to, but which kills strangers who stay for a day too long (thus reminding us how close the place is to Sothoryos). Slavers now routinely raid and enslave the population that hasn't moved inland because, since the Doom, they've worked out how to avoid "the butterfly fever". Hardline pacifists who rely on a seizure-inducing fever as a primary defence turn out to make easy-to-farm slaves; once you've worked out how to avoid dying when harvesting their population for market, that is. The population of Naathi on Naath is dwindling.
  • According to David Foster Wallace's essay, "A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again" (from the book of the same name), large cruise ships are, well, exactly what it says on the tin.
  • This Perfect Day by Ira Levin features a seeming utopia with no poverty, hunger, violence, or fear. Everyone is happy, helpful, and content. But they're all being drugged and genetically engineered to be so, controlled by a supercomputer that in turn is controlled by a secret cabal of immortal "programmers" who live in luxury, apart from the rest of society.
  • In Those That Wake's sequel, New York is this—barely a step up from the dystopia it was in the first book.
  • The short "A Ticket to Tranai" by Robert Sheckley. Tranai is a planet where everyone is happy: anyone can become its High President whenever one wishes because anyone has the right to put a bullet through the current High President's head, all wives are young, beautiful and loving because they are kept in hibernation for most of the time, and when the husband dies, the still-young widow is free to enjoy his money, there are no divorces because it's legal to Murder the Hypotenuse, there is no violence because robberies are acceptable too, and, anyway, if you want, you can let out your feelings on your robot which is purposefully designed to be slow — in short, it's Utopia embodied!
  • H.G. Wells' The Time Machine: the Time Traveler arrives on the future Earth in what seems to be a natural paradise inhabited by the peaceful Eloi, the descendants of modern humans. He later discovers that the Eloi's way of life is sustained by the subterranean Morlocks, who raise the Eloi on ranches like this and feed on them for sustenance (and the Morlocks are arguably the more sympathetic of the two).
  • Transformers: TransTech's Axiom Nexus sure looks like a utopia at first glance, compared to every other Transformers universe. It's the only universe where the Civil War never happened, and millions of Cybertronians of all factions and universes live together in a shiny, high-tech city. In actual practice, however, the Civil War still exists... just in the form of political intrigue, corporate warfare, racial/class tensions and bigotry, gang warfare, and lots and lots of red tape. And if you happen to have any tech in your body that the TransTechs find interesting and/or dangerous, regardless of whether you intend to do anything wrong with it or not, they'll at best kidnap you and at worst kidnap you and then find out what makes you tick.
  • Uglies: Magnificent beauty and nonstop fun from the moment you turn sixteen onward. At the price of government psychos putting lesions in your brain and Super Soldiers after anyone who thinks for themselves.
  • In the 24th century of The Unincorporated Man by Dani and Eytan Kollin, the entire Solar system has been colonized out to the Oort Cloud, Mars has been terraformed, and thanks to technology lifespans are measured in centuries and no-one goes hungry, unclothed or unhoused. But everyone is at least partly property in which other people own stock, there's a near permanent underclass of "pennystocks" and everyone has a tracker implanted in them. And it's getting worse; once you were born owning 45% of yourself, now it's 25%.
  • Franz Kafka's Up in the Gallery concerns a circusgoer who comes to realize the bright show going on in front of him isn't what it seems.
  • Nede, one of the worlds that Neshi the Tech Detective visits in The Wandering. It's a peaceful world where its citizens engage in ritual sacrifices to their God who is actually Satan.
  • Watership Down. The refugee rabbits, after a hazardous journey, are offered shelter in Cowslip's warren without even having to fight to get in. The rabbits there are all big and well-fed as there is plenty of food left out in the fields, and have even developed their own high culture, such as art and song. The other rabbits get quite annoyed when their Waif Prophet Fiver insists the place is evil. It turns out the reason the food is left out in the field is that the warren's surrounds are intensively snared by the local farmer — the entire warren is one big rabbit hutch.
  • The Wheel of Time offers up a pair of these during Rand's climactic duel with the evil Shai'tan. Each character spins up visions of how they would remake the world if they win. Shai'tan initially shows a traditional Crapsack World with overt corruption and physical ruin. But then he suggests that the true outcome of his victory would be a seemingly prosperous, upbeat world that believes the side of good won, but where values like justice and charity no longer exist. Rand first contemplates re-imprisoning Shai'tan, resulting in a culturally and technologically advanced society. But when he considers actually destroying Shai'tan, the result is instead another shiny and cheery world, but where everyone is an Empty Shell, as the choice between good and evil no longer exists.
  • The descriptive part of Georges Perec's W or the Memory of Childhood, starts off with the eponymous island portrayed as an utopian land ruled by sport. As it goes into detail, the text descends into the description of a horrendous land of slavery and madness, allegory of German concentration camps, in which some of Perec's relatives had died.
  • The Land of Oz from L. Frank Baum's The Wonderful Wizard of Oz is considerably more crapsack than one would first think, what with half of the land being under the brutal oppression of two wicked witches, and the Emerald City being a lie in every inch of its being. Things improve in the later books, though, especially under Ozma.
    • The books also give us some others. For instance, the land of the Mangaboos, a beautiful land with glass houses and lit by six colored suns (it's belowground), and inhabited by beautiful vegetable people. Except that said vegetables are heartless and horrifyingly xenophobic, trying to destroy anything that enters their land that's not a Mangaboo (to the point where genocide against them was the only option). Or the Valley of Voe, full of kind, good-hearted people, natural beauty, delicious fruit that grants invisibility... and vicious man-eating invisible bears, such that it's only possible to survive there if you're invisible so the bears can't see you.
  • Robert Silverberg's (The World Inside). Everyone lives in gargantuan apartment blocks ("urban monads" with names like ChiPitts) and never goes out. The entire human race is obsessed with having as many children as possible — one protagonist is ashamed of having only four. It is seen as selfish (and therefore, criminal) to refuse sex to random strangers. And everyone is really, really happy all the time... because the ones who aren't happy are either lobotomized or dropped down the recycling chutes.
  • Camazotz, the planet controlled by IT in Madeleine L'Engle's A Wrinkle in Time.
  • Alaalu from book seven of Young Wizards by Diane Duane. Everything seems perfect: long lives, few accidents, little pain, but this perfection is a symptom of a bad idea from millennia before and only The Lone One (aka Satan) can help.


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