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Item s unavailable for purchase. Please review your cart. We received guidance from Jenny C. Mann and Ursula K. Heise, professors of English at Cornell and UCLA, respectively, both of whom study dystopian literature, and limited our selections to books with some connection to Earth. Beyond that, the sky was the limit. In our collective abridged accounts of Gulliver , we tend to remember the tiny people, and then the big people, and maybe the smart horses. After finally discovering what he thinks is a peaceful, reasonable civilization, Gulliver returns to England.

The Last Man is a very early example of one of the most familiar, well-worn arcs in later dystopian imaginings: A plague arrives and wipes out all of mankind except for one lonely survivor. Today, we expect that as the opening storytelling salvo. Like many dystopian writers, Butler takes a contemporary idea about how the world works and extends it to a logical extreme. For Butler, writing in the lateth century, that theory is Darwinian. His protagonist stumbles upon a previously undiscovered land that implements natural selection as social policing: Illness and physical maladies are considered criminal and result in severe punishment and isolation, while crimes of amorality are treated as pitiable, temporary ailments.

One would figure the parallels to today would present themselves — the effete elites living off a bitter working class no one wants to look at … alas, our elite still seems able to fight off being dinner, for now. Forster foresaw our obsession with technology. In this shockingly prescient short story, all communication is done through screens, humans are isolated in cells below ground, and ideas are only shared by an omnipresent Machine that is worshiped as a god.

Your high-school English teacher probably taught you that and Brave New World were the pioneers of the sci-fi dystopia. But both Orwell and Huxley were influenced by an earlier, lesser-known Russian novel, written in , smuggled into the U. The One State would surely hate it. In , Huxley published a book about a society in which the opportunities to distract yourself with small pleasures are endless.

This satire chronicles the career of fictitious U. Lewis understood the American soul better than most, and he makes a compelling case that fascist tendencies would make a horrifyingly good fit for our polity if presented with the right amount of good, old-fashioned patriotism.

By creating a world in which women are enslaved and treated no better than animals, Burdekin drew a blueprint for dystopian literature, while never forgetting that misogyny would be an integral architect. Wizards roam the land as well — that is, people who have mastered a small selection of reality-warping formulae that now-extinct super-advanced civilizations had developed. Soon enough, the scientist in question, Dr. Martine, ventures to the Inland Strip — a. It was a pleasure to read. You know a book has had lasting impact when its plot can be used to describe a type of situation.

The book works with the idea that, no matter how much we may want peace, some among us crave power. Yet in a strange twist of events, from Survivor to Lost, that very basic message has somehow been turned into entertainment for the masses in the 21st century. Prefiguring cyberpunk in the mids, Bester depicts a world ruled largely by giant multi-planet corporations run by decadent elites, hoarding their wealth away from the jaunting gangs. This makes him a hot commodity, and various forces attempt to snatch him on behalf of one or another megacorp or power player.

Foyle eludes them all, in large part through his psychotic devotion to extracting violent revenge for being marooned. To Rand and the generations to follow that would study and embrace her work, dystopia meant an America — and world — where socialism and big government were the norm. In one of his earliest works, Inter Ice Age 4 , originally serialized in a journal named Sekai, he embraced science-fictional imagery more directly, including melting polar ice caps, genetically engineered humans, and the destruction of entire nations due to flooding. It fits in neatly with his other studies of alienation, but also echoes modern concerns almost 60 years after its publication.

Apocalypses bring us face-to-face with the horror of time. Usually, they do this by reminding us of how little we have, but A Canticle for Leibowitz makes us confront the weight of endless years. Miller, who suffered from depression and PTSD, went into seclusion after writing this novel. He never finished another a sequel was posthumously put together , and in a heartrending irony, killed himself almost 40 years later.

A study of human desire for conflict and violence? A coming-of-age novel in dystopian England? An exploration of the dark side of youth culture in the postwar era? Or possibly a combination of all three? In A Clockwork Orange , the future is a violent, broken place. Vonnegut satirizes a range of targets, from American provincialism to banana republic dictators to the jet set, but ultimately has eyes on something bigger.

He plays the futility of the human condition for laughs, in a way that highlights rather than disguises the bleakness of his vision. Few dystopian stories are also horror stories, but Ellison has always enjoyed surprising his readers. In this astounding work of short fiction, he conceives a world where only five humans are left and their lives are dominated by a sadistic and omnipotent supercomputer known as AM. The original edition of Androids was set in ; later editions place the story in the 21st century. Humanity was nearly wiped out during another global conflict, and now, robotic versions of animals and humans are part of everyday life.

While nuclear war was a serious threat when Dick wrote the book, the stark look at a future Earth after mass environmental destruction seems all too real now. The Hainish cycle of books and stories contains many of these, including The Left Hand of Darkness , about a planet whose inhabitants have no fixed gender, and The Dispossessed , set on twin planets with radically different forms of government.


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  • The Lathe of Heaven , though set on earth, has just as heady a concept: protagonist George Orr a name with plenty of dystopian resonance on its own possesses the ability to rewrite reality itself. Working with his therapist, Orr begins to use his ability to ostensibly improve the world. A wish with the intention of making things better, however, often has the opposite effect — thus allowing Le Guin to, in this short novel, showcase a number of ominous outcomes for humanity. When you think of the most iconic Dr. Like Samuel R.

    Many dystopias focus on the ways in which human flaws and obsessions can transform society for the worst. Specifically the idea that, in the event of some extraterrestrial lifeform visiting Earth, they might not even bother to contact us, leaving humans to puzzle over the bizarre artifacts they leave in their wake. This brief, brutal novella, written by Sheldon under a pseudonym, is about a girl who gives up her life of poverty and physical deformity, instead becoming the remote brain for a perfect, young, machine-made starlet. As a vision of the future, The Girl Who is full of sci-fi tropes like remote brains and 3-D holograms.

    More presciently, and more pointedly, it also speculates that advertising would become a hidden, embedded part of entertainment. Some dystopian novels take their cue from the breakdown of an existing social order; others focus on the conflict between two incompatible worldviews, and the devastation that they leave in their wake. As he tells the story of a wanderer arriving in an isolated city, Delany uses a host of experimental prose techniques to leave the reader as shaken as his characters. The Girl Who Owned a City , familiar from many middle-school reading lists, is simpler and smaller than the Hunger Games cohort of young-adult dystopias.

    After Lisa loses her house to a gang of kids, she moves her nascent collective into the local high school. Its smallness and the simplicity of its language are a benefit rather than a detraction — as an introduction to dystopia and an act of imaginative future horror, it can hit a year-old square in the chest.

    Woman on the Edge of Time feels atypical for a dystopian novel: Connie, its protagonist, lives in New York in the s, and its opening suggests the reader is in for a bleak work of literary realism. But soon, Connie is contacted by a representative from a utopian society in a possible future timeline, and things grow infinitely more complex.

    As science-fiction writer and critic Jo Walton observed in an essay on the novel, s New York comes off as pretty dystopian here as well. Connie is repeatedly deprived of her freedom by patriarchal forces as sinister as anything you might run across in Atwood. Soon enough, however, the conversation at familial functions turns to the state of the world, which is headed toward rapid societal collapse.

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    Casual talks about genetics in the early going take on a new significance as the book advances; this is a tale of a grim future, the evolution of humanity, and the questions that face the society to come. Perhaps most impressive is how subtly the novel changes: Without ever losing sight of the personal, it takes on societal and environmental changes on a grander and grander scale. The Stand is his magnum opus when it comes to writing about the end of civilization, and the ensuing battle to decide what direction humanity will go in as it tries to rebuild.

    Beginning with The Shadow of the Torturer , Wolfe wrote a number of interconnected works that explored the fate of humanity in the far future and earned a whole lot of acclaim along the way. These are generally grouped together as the Book of the New Sun set on Earth at a time when the sun has dimmed , the Book of the Long Sun set on a massive generation ship , and the Book of the Short Sun set on a number of distant worlds.

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