Oh, yeah, Fahrenheit 451 is definitely in the category.
I guess I should come up with a corresponding term for dystopias, since “Mary Sue” implies something like, “this is just good and it’s the only way to be good and everybody knows it.”
Bradbury on the other hand was writing about the evils of illiteracy, and posited a society that enforced it in F451.
But as a reader, I was tearing my hair out when forced to read the book because that entire society doesn’t effing work! I couldn’t get three paragraphs without hitting a rock that derailed my suspension of disbelief.
My notes listed bullet points like ‘and who trained the mechanics that work on those fire trucks?’ and ‘this character is supposed to be too ignorant to make that reference’, and ‘if any neighboring state does not do this stupid thing, they will inevitably destroy this one’ and ‘unable to sustain the technology base needed.’ and ‘situation arose after mandatory-illiteracy - how did they do the research to come up with this?’ and ‘Consumer-goods safety and standards without package information couldn’t be this good.’ and on and on and on.
The F451 dystopia would simply fail. Some other nation would absorb its resources because it failed to utilize them as well and inevitably would get out-competed. It wouldn’t last even as long as it has lasted in-story, and it couldn’t start because the motivations presented wouldn’t drive it through the inevitable transition phase.
So, F451 takes place in a kind of artificially failed world that exists for no reason other than moralizing about how horrible a kind of failure (THAT COULD NEVER HAPPEN) it would be. I did not consider it to be one of Bradbury’s better works.
Robert Heinlein did this a lot, in most of the stuff he wrote. His notion of “the” virtuous society - mostly armed, mostly ungoverned, driven by capitalism without any reservation - has been shown, over and over again in real life, to lead directly to collapse. The distribution of wealth becomes so drastically skewed that there’s no point for the few dozen oligarchs left in producing anything for the vast majority who are now unable to buy them. If only the oligarchs’ families can afford an education, then nobody has both the skills and the motivation to develop new products and services, and the market collapses. If you want to see how that kind of capitalism really works, look at Cuba in the 1920s when the American Mafia was taking over the place.
(Under the heading of ‘no wonder they had a communist revolution’, look at what their experience of capitalism had been…)
The idea that the peasants could ever be allowed to keep their weapons when nobody who matters needs their consent, is ludicrous. So is the idea that a bunch of people with no hope of advancement can have free universal access to weapons without a bunch of them going nuts and trying to kill each other. As we see happening in the US these days.
So Heinlein’s utopias, although they sound plausible and the causes of failure are more subtle, and they’re intensely satisfying for those who imagine that they are the kind who would naturally be among the “winners” and conflate that imagined success with virtue, are just as false as Bradbury’s dystopia. He winds up making a forceful, convincing argument for a system that DOESN’T EFFING WORK. And now that I’ve actually studied a bit of history and a bit of economics, I run into the same kind of problem - where something is supposed to be serious but it’s impossible to take seriously.