Dystopian Lit!

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I love (Love love love love love!) dystopian lit, and have read all the most essential titles (Brave New World, 1984, Handmaids Tale, Player Piano, etc.), but would love recommendations for more obscure titles. Titles by foreign (I'm in the US) authors would be especially appreciated.

Caenis (Caenis), Thursday, 4 March 2004 21:45 (fifteen years ago) link

A few I would recommend:

Inter Ice Age 4 by Kobo Abe
The Island of Crimea by Vassily Aksyonov
War With the Newts by Karel Capek
Moscow 2042 by Vladimir Voinovich
We by Yevgeny Zamyatin

Sara L (Tara Too), Friday, 5 March 2004 02:53 (fifteen years ago) link

Alright, the MUST READ on your list should be Looking Backward, by Edward Bellamy. This book sparked Bellamy Societies all over America after it came out in 1888. McCarthy would have had a conniption had he been around at this time. In general, read all the American transcendentalists, too.

also try:
A Clockwork Orange, Anthony Burgess
The Republic, by Plato
Anthem, by Ayn Rand
obviously Utopia, by sir thomas moore and
The Prince, by Machiaveli

but more recently would be:
Walden Two by BF Skinner
The CottonPatch Gospels by Clarence Jordan
and others

McDowell Crook, Friday, 5 March 2004 05:59 (fifteen years ago) link

I highly recommend Gerd Brantenberg's Egalia's Daughters.

dr. b. (dr. b.), Friday, 5 March 2004 13:29 (fifteen years ago) link

I had to look up “dystopian.” Dystopia: An imaginary place where people lead dehumanized and often fearful lives. I really like reading books like this, too. I would recommend (but don’t cleanly fall under this category):

The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell. Select astronauts are sent to another planet and only one returns to tell the frightening tale. I class this novel as ‘dystopian’ in that while the humans were on the other planet, they were treated rather poorly by some of the natives.

The Savage Girl by Alex Shakar. This is a great satire on the future of advertising. A company hires “trend spotters” to go out and find what the next big ad campaign is going to look like (for a new diet water they’re going to market). After reading this, I watched television commercials differently and couldn’t walk down an isle in the grocery store without thinking about the different ways each product was being advertised to be.

Vermont Girl (Vermont Girl), Friday, 5 March 2004 13:44 (fifteen years ago) link

I just recently read The Sparrow, and it is wonderful!

Caenis (Caenis), Friday, 5 March 2004 17:20 (fifteen years ago) link

Cool, I'm glad you liked it! I started the sequel, "Children of God", but accidentally dropped it in a tub of water. I've been meaning to replace it for a while now...

Vermont Girl (Vermont Girl), Friday, 5 March 2004 17:40 (fifteen years ago) link

"The Dwarf" by Par Lagerkvist is very interesting. The plot revolves around a sadistic court dwarf in a italian renaissance-esque setting. The book itself is quite gothic and the dwarf will freak you out, but I enjoyed it a lot.

eleni (eleni), Friday, 5 March 2004 19:26 (fifteen years ago) link

I love dystopian fiction, but my girlfriend does even more. I haven't read Max Barry's Jennifer Government, but she says it's great.

Philip K. Dick seems to be pretty good at dystopia: A Scanner Darkly, Man in the High Castle, etc.

Jordan (Jordan), Friday, 5 March 2004 21:46 (fifteen years ago) link

Someone above suggested Plato's Republic. Strictly speaking, it's a work of philosophy, but if you want to place it in the utopia/ dystopia continuum, it's intended as a utopia: Plato used the work to detail his ideal society. It's pretty bloody freaky, though. Which brings me to my point: Whichever utopia you read, you will find dystopian elements in it -- elements that even the author could not accept in a utopia. There is thus slavery Thomas More's Utopia for example, despite his avvowel that a utopia entails freedom for all. Also, Plato uses Homer to prove some of his points in Republic, despite his intention to remove all mimetic artists from his ideal state. And so on and so on (I've checked Marge Piercy, Doris Lessing, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, and a few others).

But any way, here are a couple of additional dystopian titles: H. G. Wells' The Island of Doctor Moreau and The Time Machine. And here's a link: Exploring Dystopia.

Have fun.

SRH (Skrik), Saturday, 6 March 2004 17:05 (fifteen years ago) link

I checked out that link for Exploring Dystopia. Very interesting. Very informative.

To add to the question, what about Cyberpunk and Post-apoc titles? Any suggestions? Again, I've read a smattering, but there are probably greater holes in my experience here than in dystopian lit.

Caenis (Caenis), Sunday, 14 March 2004 18:25 (fifteen years ago) link

George Saunders to thread. Not foreign, but kinda black humor dystopia.

bnw (bnw), Sunday, 14 March 2004 19:25 (fifteen years ago) link

Well, for my two cents, I'd rec Neuromancer by William Gibson and also his book of short stories, Burning Chrome.

cicatrix_zero, Saturday, 27 March 2004 03:32 (fifteen years ago) link

The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood obv and I guess Oryx and Crake as well. And Marge Piercy's Woman on the Edge of Time is great, and especially interesting when compared with Brave New World and Atwood.

Archel (Archel), Monday, 29 March 2004 08:50 (fifteen years ago) link

I love these too. I've always wanted to include John Wyndham, though he's more post-apoc. than dystopic.

derrick (derrick), Tuesday, 30 March 2004 17:00 (fifteen years ago) link

wow. many excellent suggestions here. sara l, archel and bnw especially. george saunders' last story in the new yorker - i think it was called "jon" - is worth a look.

"the golden space" by pamela sargent is excellent, but obscure.

if you don't mind reading children's lit (i don't) i'd recommend "the giver" by lois lowry. it won the newberry medal.

also eleni's suggestion is great. i hadn't thought of "the dwarf" as dystopian but i guess it is! it's also funny because it's like reading a novel by nietzsche - if you get a kick out of his polemical style you'll enjoy "the dwarf".

vahid (vahid), Thursday, 1 April 2004 15:46 (fifteen years ago) link

I loved The Giver. I summaraized it for someone later on and they were like, "I can't believe that was a children's book..."

Vermont Girl (Vermont Girl), Thursday, 1 April 2004 16:12 (fifteen years ago) link

fifteen years pass...

Anyone read Swedish novelist Karen Boye's 1940 book Kallocain? New translation coming on Penguin late this year.

Keen to check out Yoko Ogawa's The Memory Police & Yoko Tawada's The Last Children of Tokyo/The Emissary.

etc, Saturday, 3 August 2019 21:51 (two months ago) link


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