Friday 16 March 2012

Dystopian Reading List

I've tried to pick books that are actual dystopias, rather than post-apocalyptic, etc.  Meaning, books wherein the governments (or other entities) tried to create a utopic society but failed, creating instead a society that limits freedoms in some way or another, or is simply controlling society.  I've bent my own rules at the end of the fiction section by adding some books that don't quite fit this definition, but which may interest readers who like this type of fiction.  And I'll admit that in a few instances I had to guess if they fit my definition, as I haven't had the chance to read all of these - they're set off from the rest of the fiction list.  I got a few of the books listed here from the book of essays by Erika Gottlieb.

I know this list isn't complete, so if there's a book you know of that should be on it, mention it in the comments.

With one exception, the links go to the Indigo website, where you can learn more about the books.

I've put asterisks next to books I thought were especially good for one reason or another.  And as usual with my reading lists, this is also a display at the World's Biggest Bookstore.



Brave New Worlds - John Joseph Adams, Ed.
Brave New World - Aldous Huxley
We - Yevgeny Zamyatin
1984 - George Orwell
* This Perfect Day - Ira Levin
Feihrenheit 451 - Ray Bradbury
* Battle Royale - Koushun Takami
* Metropolis - Thea Von Harbou
Stand on Zanzibar - John Brenner
The Sleeper Wakes - H. G. Wells
Player Piano - Kurt Vonnegut
* V for Vendetta - Alan Moore and David Lloyd
* The Handmaid's Tale - Margaret Atwood
* Veracity - Laura Bynum
* When She Woke - Hilary Jordan
He, She and It - Marge Piercy
Woman on the Edge of Time - Marge Piercy
Logan's Run - William Nolan and George Clayton Johnson
Inverted World - Christopher Priest
The World Inside - Robert Silverberg
Jennifer Government - Max Barry
Pure - Julianna Baggott
The Long Walk - Stephen King (as Richard Bachman)
The Bradbury Report - Steven Polensky
The Third - Abel Keogh
The Foundation Pit - Andrey Platonov
The Trial - Franz Kafka
The Running Man - Stephen King (as Richard Bachman)
The Games - Ted Kosmatka
Space Merchants - Frederik Pohl and C. M. Kornbluth
Technicolor Ultra Mall - Ryan Oakley
Everyone in Silico - Jim Munroe
The Man in the High Castle - Philip K. Dick
* Postmortal - Drew Magary
* Eutopia - David Nickle
Seed - Rob Ziegler


The Giver - Lois Lowry
* The Unidentified - Rae Mariz
Uglies - Scott Westerfield
Matched - Megan McCafferty,
Divergent - Veronica Roth
* Unwind - Neal Shusterman
* The Hunger Games - Suzanne Collins
Delirium - Lauren Oliver
* The Declaration - Gemma Malley
* Legend - Marie Lu
Article 5 - Kristen Simmons
* Shatter Me - Tehreh Mafi
Feed - M. L. Anderson
The Pledge - Kimberly Derting
XVI - Julia Karr
The Blending Time - Michael Kinch
Inside Out - Maria Snyder
Water Wars - Cameron Stracher
Incarceron - Catherine Fisher
Eve - Anna Carey
Swipe - Evan Angler (forthcoming)

Reader Suggestions:

Swastika Night - Katharine Burdekin (writing as Murray Constantine)
Benefits - Zoe Fairbairns
The Carhullan Army - Sarah Hall
> Wither - Lauren DeStefano
> Birthmarked - Caragh O'Brien
> Anthem - Ayn Rand
> The Line - Teri Hall
> The Gate to Women's Country - Sheri Tepper
The Vaults - Toby Ball
The Fifth Sacred Thing - Starhawk
Among The Hidden - Margaret Peterson Haddix
# The House of the Scorpion - Nancy Farmer
# Ender's Game - Orson Scott Card (I consider this more pure SF, but there is a birth cap and little adult presence among the chosen teens, so I can see how it made their list.)
# Partials - Dan Wells (I didn't add this to my list as I wasn't sure how much of a government presence exists, and it sounds more post-apocalyptic to me)
^ A Clockwork Orange - Anthony Burgess (I REALLY don't know how I missed this one)
A Scanner Darkly - Philip K. Dick
^ Akira - Katsuhiro Otomo
^ Ghost in the Shell - Shirow Masamune
^ Children of Men - P. D. James
^ Neuromancer - William Gibson

(books marked with > come from the fantastic article Dystopian Birth Control by Caragh O'Brien and its comments.  Which reminded me that had a dystopia week, so I looked up some of those articles.  John Joseph Adams, who edited the Brave New Worlds anthology, as a fantastic definition of dystopian fiction here.  You can read some of the stories from the anthology on its website.  Adams also hosted a round table talking about favourite examples of dystopian fiction, which lists several books I don't.

books marked with # are from this Flavorwire article.

and marked with ^ are from this article.)

Lee & Low Books has come up with a list where the protagonists/authors are from diverse backgrounds (people of colour, LGTB, etc.).  You can see their list here.


Alison said...

Assorted thoughts -

* Swastika Night (1937) Murray Constantine (Katharine Burdekin)
* Benefits (1979) Zoe Fairbairns
* The Carhullan Army (2007) Sarah Hall
* Brave New Words (anthology, 2011) John Joseph Adams (ed) Nightshade Books had a recent post on dystopias refracted through the perspective of reproductive rights -

Alison said...

Erratum: that should have been Brave New Worlds.

Too busy fighting with the CAPCHA.

Jessica Strider said...

Thanks for the suggestions Alison. I had Brave New Worlds, but I've added the others, as well as links to some articles. I hadn't read the one you linked to, so thanks for that. :)

Anonymous said...

The Fifth Sacred Thing by Starhawk

Jessica Strider said...

Thanks for the suggestion, it's been added to the list. I've heard of The Fifth Sacred Thing (and found it for lots of customers) but apparently I've never read the plot synopsis for it.