Dystopia!

Dystopian fiction. Futures where everything has fallen apart. Bleak post-apocalyptic despotism. Totalitatianism reigning in the midst of post-scarcity. Plain ol' regular natural progression from bad to worse. Really: what's the worst that could happen?

"Dystopia!" clarified: Though I mention "post-apocalyptic" in the above, it's just to add some color. There are some important distinctions to be made about "post-apocalyptic" (where something catastrophic has put (almost?) everything to ruin) and "dystopian" (where no singular catastrophe may have occurred but things have somehow still slipped into a horrid state of paranoia and oppression (at least for some)).
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906 books · 2,356 voters · list created August 6th, 2008 by Rob (votes) .
342 likes · 
Lists are re-scored approximately every 5 minutes.


Jeremy 1035 books
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Rob 1467 books
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Jessica 2348 books
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Michael 2113 books
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Susanna - Censored by GoodReads 2756 books
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Erin 531 books
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dawn 747 books
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Mark 1029 books
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Comments (showing 1-45 of 45) (45 new)

dateDown arrow    newest »

message 1: by Rob (new)

Rob It occurs to me that the line gets pretty blurry sometimes between what is "dystopian" and what is "post-apocalyptic".


message 2: by Muzzlehatch (new)

Muzzlehatch Some folks here don't seem to know the difference between UTOPIA and DYSTOPIA -- Lost Horizon, Utopia clearly belong to the former category (though THE DISPOSSESSED which I'm adding could plausibly be consider both/either).


message 3: by Roger (new)

Roger Cottrell Jeremy has ALMOST included every dystopian project of note but there are a few he left out. THE LAST MAN OUT OF EUROPE, for example, by Roger Cottrell, reinterprets Orwell's 1984 as a noir thriller and is a great read - it also contextualises a lot of Orwell's politics. His graphic novel, WAR CHILD, set in the corporate controlled Baghdad of 2048 will be worth looking out for when completed. While V FOR VENDETTA is John Moore's best dystopian graphic novel you should have included THE WATCHMAN, also some of the JUDGE DREDD stuff and THE GUVNOR series in 2000AD. Basically, we're living in a dystopia at the moment so the next few years should yield a rich crop if the working class aren't all ideologically integrated into their own enslavement through celebrity culture and reality TV!


message 4: by Kathryn (new)

Kathryn I'm surprised that no one added Y The Last Man Vol. 1 Unmanned. It straddles post-apocalyptic and dystopian fiction. And technically, something must be either dystopian or utopian, not both, as they are the exact opposite of eachother, unless I'm misunderstanding something. Great list everyone, many I would love to get my hands on!


message 5: by Paul (new)

Paul Surprised that Ninni Holmqvist's The Unit doesn't appear on the list, a dystopian novel if ever there was, and a good one to boot.


message 6: by Carolyn (new)

Carolyn Rob wrote: "It occurs to me that the line gets pretty blurry sometimes between what is "dystopian" and what is "post-apocalyptic"."

I think there's plenty of crossover, where a book can be classified as both, but the biggest distinguishing factor is the society in the dystopia, and the conflict between the character and that society.

There are a lot of post-apocalyptic novels that either don't have a society featured at all, (The Road is a good example of that, and there are also plenty that don't have any conflict between the character and the society - the survivor is creating the society (Earth Abides), or on a long journey to re/discover knowledge or a coming of age(The Wild Shore Three Californias), or it shows the conflicts between different survivor groups (The Postman.)

And while many dystopias are post-apocalyptic, that is not a requirement. Books with a gradual eroding of personal rights, or a gradual famine/resource shortage, or where corporations run the world, etc. are all examples where you could have a dystopia without the sudden catastrophe of an apocalypse.



message 7: by Roger (new)

Roger Cottrell I think that the rule of thumb is that a dystopian novel generally extrapolates from existing social and political trends while post apocalyptic novels (of which THE ROAD is one of the best) deal with the consequences of society's collapse. The latter is by nature more speculative. Orwell's 1984, as an example, developed trends that Orwell saw in wartime and post-war politics (given his Schachmanite view that Stalinism and fascism were essentially the same) combined with a pessimism (that later proved accurate) that Labour would fail to deliver the democratic socialist goods. In the end, we live in a different kind of dystopia where the anarchy of untrammelled free market capitalism retains the formal trappings of democracy but where real democracy is eroded and overshadowed by the coercive state. An example of a novel that is both dystopian and post apocalyptic would be John Wyndham's THE CHRYSALIDS which has post holocaust society reverting to feudalism but deals with contemporary issues like religious fundamentalism and racism as well.


message 8: by David (new)

David A third of the books on this list are not anthologies at all. The books by Dick (ironically, the #1 spot), Gibson, Kiernan and others are single-author collections, and should be on a list of their own.


message 9: by Rob (new)

Rob David wrote: "A third of the books on this list are not anthologies at all [...but instead are...:] single-author collections, and should be on a list of their own."

Though technically correct, I would think that for most people the distinction is a blurry one. In the spirit of sharing favorites though, I'd say that these collections have a home here.


message 10: by Emily (new)

Emily  O Does Choke really fit in this list?


message 11: by Carolyn (new)

Carolyn Emily wrote: "Does Choke really fit in this list?"

You're right, I deleted it.


message 12: by Chanel (new)

Chanel Earl In order to be dystopian, doesn't a book have to set up a Utopia (i.e. an attempted perfect society) and then explore why the society is not, in fact, perfect but actually terrifying?




message 13: by Chanel (last edited Jan 11, 2010 06:15PM) (new)

Chanel Earl Oh, and as for the difference between utopia and dystopia, there isn't one as far as I'm concerned because we can't have a perfect society. There will always be somebody who feels trapped or confined or just repulsed by any utopia, and then it is no longer utopia for them. (Which is part of the reason "Lost Horizon" is so good, just think about that poor girl/woman/really old woman who fled.)


message 14: by Thom (new)

Thom Dunn Chanel wrote: "In order to be dystopian, doesn't a book have to set up a Utopia (i.e. an attempted perfect society) and then explore why the society is not, in fact, perfect but actually terrifying?

"


Rob wrote: "It occurs to me that the line gets pretty blurry sometimes between what is "dystopian" and what is "post-apocalyptic"."

WELL, 1984 is not a dystopia , strictly speaking: IT'S A DYSCHRONIA....Eastasia is no better or worse than Oceania, the whole world has evolved into a miserable society, a blend of those bastard children of the Enlightenment: Totalitarian Communism and Fascism. But I'd agree, we don't need to make such distinctions here....Everyone should have a list of 100 Nasties, be they historical periods, off-planet colonies, societies run by aliens, or flying pigs or whatever. Cincinnati's Over-the-Rhine was once a demi-paradise, now it's the Barbary Coast.



message 15: by Thom (new)

Thom Dunn See Richard D. Erlich's Wikepedia creation: Clockworks 2 for recent dystopian titles. (Rich soldiers on, I'm retired and reading Henning Mankell).


message 16: by Thom (new)

Thom Dunn And BTW, how about the Christian heaven as a dystopia, where we get to sit on folding chairs and stare at a bright light for all eternity---or that's what it sounded like to me as a kid, maybe my Sunday school teacher was subversive.


Mike (the Paladin) This has been mentioned before but, after looking the list over, I think some people need to look up dystopia.


message 18: by Deb (new)

Deb Watership down... a dystopia??


Mike (the Paladin) YES!!!!!! The Horror of bunnies staggering through a world, rebuilt after the great lettuce famine and ruled by evil Jack rabbits who treat the bunnies as little more than...animals!


message 20: by Deb (new)

Deb Oh the horror, the horror...!


message 21: by Mary (new)

Mary ...Catch-22 was not Dystopia either. One of my favorite books ever, but no.


message 22: by [deleted user] (new)

Mike (the Paladin) wrote: "This has been mentioned before but, after looking the list over, I think some people need to look up dystopia."

OK, looking it up!


message 23: by [deleted user] (new)

A dystopia (from Ancient Greek: δυσ-, "bad, ill", and Ancient Greek: τόπος, "place, landscape"; alternatively cacotopia,[1] or anti-utopia) is the idea of a society in a repressive and controlled state, often under the guise of being utopian, as characterized in books like Brave New World and Nineteen Eighty-Four. Dystopian societies feature different kinds of repressive social control systems, various forms of active and passive coercion. Ideas and works about dystopian societies often explore the concept of humans abusing technology and humans individually and collectively coping, or not being able to properly cope with technology that has progressed far more rapidly than humanity has been able to evolve. Dystopian societies are often imagined as police states, with unlimited power over the citizens.


message 24: by Mary (new)

Mary Yeah, Catch-22 is satire. Absolutely none of that definition fits what Catch-22 is.


message 25: by Chris (last edited Jun 15, 2011 07:38AM) (new)

Chris Suggest maybe wording opening to pre-apocalyptic. Allthough, in some instances, if it is far enough after an apox that a large enough society has been rebuilt, maybe it should be included. Small scale societaly issues should still be considered apocalyptic. In The Road, there is not a large enough society to be anything. Books like Watership Down and Animal Farm are tricky to include in a list like this, while not directly in the genre, I understand why some might still consider them. May be fair to include them as quick reference to cross-over work that may be enjoyed.


message 26: by Lisa (new)

Lisa James As well as Oryx & Crake, the list should have also included some of Atwood's other works, such as The Year of the Flood, The Handmaid's Tale, as they are classic post apocalyptic dystopian lit. Some of the Stephen King books shouldn't be here all either, as they are most generally & widely accepted to be thriller/horror. The Terry Brooks Shannara books I would contest because they are classic fantasy, not dystopia. If you want to include Brooks, he has another series that seems to fit better, although I can't remember off the top of my head what it is.


message 27: by Suzy (new)

Suzy Witten Just added my "Dystopian Historical Novel" to this list: THE AFFLICTED GIRLS A Novel of Salem by Suzy Witten

"Something terrible happened in Salem Village in 1692... but it isn't what you think!"
(Winner of 2010 IPPY Silver Medal for Historical Fiction; available all formats)

The Afflicted Girls by Suzy Witten
The Afflicted Girls


message 28: by Kara (new)

Kara Can someone explain to me how The Great Gatsby (voted for by 12 people!) is dystopian literature?


message 29: by Carlos (new)

Carlos Lavín Kara wrote: "Can someone explain to me how The Great Gatsby (voted for by 12 people!) is dystopian literature?"

Someone help me and this lady understand this


message 30: by Ellinor (new)

Ellinor Carlos wrote: "Kara wrote: "Can someone explain to me how The Great Gatsby (voted for by 12 people!) is dystopian literature?"

Someone help me and this lady understand this"


I also would like to know!


message 31: by Jack (new)

Jack If you enjoy the dystopian genre, you should join The YA Dystopian Book Club


message 32: by Dianne (last edited May 02, 2013 12:19AM) (new)

Dianne Yes, I also would like to know how The Great Gatsby is a dystopian novel...

Enlighten us, Carlos!


message 33: by Lance (new)

Lance Mary wrote: "...Catch-22 was not Dystopia either. One of my favorite books ever, but no."
Yep, catch 22 would be an anti war novel.


message 34: by Lance (new)

Lance Yikes, Watership Down is a fantasy. I'm new to Goodreads. Is there a way to clean up stuff like that. I've been able to remove my screwups.


Susanna - Censored by GoodReads You need a librarian.


message 36: by Lance (new)

Lance Lance wrote: "Yikes, Watership Down is a fantasy. I'm new to Goodreads. Is there a way to clean up stuff like that. I've been able to remove my screwups."
Some of the Stephen King stuff is horror. The Stand and Dark Tower work, but it and Misery don't for sure.


message 37: by Dianne (new)

Dianne I'm a librarian! Let me clean! :)


message 38: by Elena (new)

Elena Kara wrote: "Can someone explain to me how The Great Gatsby (voted for by 12 people!) is dystopian literature?"

I agree. Who voted for it? Love the book, but it's far from dystopian...


message 39: by Hillary (last edited Oct 06, 2013 07:39AM) (new)

Hillary Brown Muzzlehatch wrote: "Some folks here don't seem to know the difference between UTOPIA and DYSTOPIA -- Lost Horizon, Utopia clearly belong to the former category (though THE DISPOSSESSED which I'm adding could plausibly..."

One of the big misconceptions is that there is a difference. You cannot have a Utopia, without it turning into a Dystopia. Read Harrison and Burgeron or Utopia, by Thomas Moore, for further proof.

At some point, people will have differing opinions. They only way to have a Utopia is to enforce it. If even one person is in dissent than it is no longer a Utopia. Take Candid, for instance. Their arrival, in El Dorado, destroyed the Utopia that existed there. The whole sequence was to prove a point about human nature. We will always want something more and we will never all agree, without excising those who disagree.

The idea, of a Utopia, is a fallacy.


message 40: by Hillary (new)

Hillary Brown Elena wrote: "Kara wrote: "Can someone explain to me how The Great Gatsby (voted for by 12 people!) is dystopian literature?"

I agree. Who voted for it? Love the book, but it's far from dystopian..."


Agreed. Perhaps, someone has an irrational fear of the time period? ;)


message 41: by Hillary (new)

Hillary Brown Roger wrote: "I think that the rule of thumb is that a dystopian novel generally extrapolates from existing social and political trends while post apocalyptic novels (of which THE ROAD is one of the best) deal w..."

Agreed. The themes, of Man vs Society and Man vs Nature, are certainly good indicators. However, it isn't unheard of for them to cross. Sometimes post-apocalyptic can crossover, into Dystopian, depending on whether they are still dealing with the remnants of pre apocalyptic society.

For instance, many might consider World War Z to be post apocalyptic. (zombie apocolypse and all that) But, because it is told from a historical POV, we are still seeing events in real time, which therefore makes it man vs society too.


message 42: by Suzanne (new)

Suzanne Misery and Pet Cemetary are not dystopian


message 43: by Suzanne (new)

Suzanne Plus a lot of other Stephen Kings that aren't distopian, and why add the girl that kicked the hornets nest?


message 44: by Kayla (new)

Kayla Since there seems to be ambiguity, remember a dystopia is a society that looks like a utopia but is so flawed that it isn't. Or it plays on some social value that we may think would create a utopia (order, peace, etc.) but then explores what would be necessary to maintain that "utopia". Of the modern "pop-dystopia" YA novels, I think Hunger Games does this best. There is certainly peace, even in the first novel the police tend to be friendly with the people in the Districts. This peace, however, is at the expense of the annual child sacrifice and general poverty forcefully maintained in most districts. The end of Mockingjay really drives that point home: is the peace and order worth it?


message 45: by Kelly (new)

Kelly "The Notebook" by Nicholas Sparks is NOT dystopia. Currently #541 on page 6.


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