io9 has a great guest post by Jeff Carlson, the best selling author of the Plague Year series, on why people like dystopic fiction. Considering that in the next month we've got 2012 and The Road coming out (not to mention an oversupply of zombie movies), the topic is both timely and timeless.
But there's also a flip side worth exploring...there's a definite pattern over the past few hundred years (read related dystopia and utopia posts here) where people tend to think either one extreme or other will characterize the future. Rarely do they think life will pretty much continue on as it always has. You can see this best in books going back to the 1800s where the Forwards invariably start off saying "in this time of great change..." and then proceed to list the explosive mix of technology + moral success/failure will result in a new golden or dark age.