Dystopias and Social Critiques discussion

dystopias for a year

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message 1: by Hank (last edited Aug 25, 2016 02:16PM) (new)

Hank (dystopia_hank) Just for kicks, I'm on a sort of reading quest to read my way through a large list of dystopian fiction this year. I'm blogging about the books themselves, applicable political thoughts, and any emotional/intellectual damage I might cause myself in doing so.


Anybody want to play along or have anything that I really MUST add to the Big List?

message 2: by Charissa (last edited Aug 25, 2016 02:16PM) (new)

Charissa (dakinigrl) I'm soaking in dystopia and apocalypse fic myself currently. I'll have to peek in on your blog now and then to see what you're going through. Here's a few that seem to be missing from your list that I consider important reads:

Cat's Cradle
Slaughterhouse Five
Welcome to the Monkey House - Kurt Vonnegut

Deathbird Stories
I Have No Mouth and Must Scream
Shatterday - Harlan Ellison

No Exit - Jean-Paul Sartre

message 3: by Palo (last edited Aug 25, 2016 02:16PM) (new)

Palo | 3 comments Parable of the Sower -Octavia Butler

message 4: by Hank (last edited Aug 25, 2016 02:18PM) (new)

Hank (dystopia_hank) I've got Monkey House and some other Vonnegut on the list - anything of his is worth reading. Ditto Ellison - No Mouth is on tap, and I'll take the rest as good suggestions.

As to No Exit, I've read it, but it didn't do much for me. Could give it another shot, though. Thanks!

message 5: by Hank (last edited Aug 25, 2016 02:18PM) (new)

Hank (dystopia_hank) Palo: A damn good book. All of her work is.


message 6: by Paula (new)

Paula | 1 comments i highly recommend Battle Royale by Koushun Takami. I'm reading right now and it is quite intense. The movie is also a fairly accurate representation of the book and is worth checking out after you've read the book

message 7: by Tina (new)

Tina | 1 comments I just added a few of my favs to the group's bookshelf, but a few of the best are:

Nalo Hopkinson's Brown Girl in the Ring
Marge Piercy's Woman on the Edge of Time as well as He She It
Almost anything by Octavia Butler (all are fabulous!) but especially the Wild Seed series and Lilith's Brood series
Kate Wilhelm's Where Late The Sweet Birds Sang
Nicola Griffith's Slow River

message 8: by Brian (new)

Brian (bmogreen) | 2 comments same here with No Exit...I read it with...3 other plays by satre....and for some reason don't remember it being a dystopia....or anything else about any of the three....WTF! I thought weed only hurt short term memory! (j/k bout that last part...but not really)

message 9: by Julie (new)

Julie (huffychick) | 8 comments Your list is great (I'm getting some ideas from it). I might also add:

Memoirs Found in a Bathtub, by Stanislaw Lem

V for Vendetta (graphic novel), by Alan Moore

Into the Forest, by Jean Hegland (not a government dystopia, but a return-to-nature/natural state kind of book)

message 10: by Andy (new)

Andy (4ndyman) | 10 comments It just occurred to me today that Ayn Rand's "We the Living" is really a dystopian novel. We just don't normally recognize it as such because it is based in historical fact.

It also just occurred to me that Lois Lowry's "The Giver" is a kind of "We the Living" for kids.

Of course, it has been a while since I read "We the Living," so I may be a little off here.

I wonder whether "We the Living" is affected by or is even a response the Zamiatin's "We." Rand, of course, chooses a different ending -- a free death instead of a life with no personal liberty.

message 11: by Hank (new)

Hank (dystopia_hank) I can only read so much Rand. I know some people love it, but I just find it terrible. No nuance, badly written, and contradictory.

message 12: by James (new)

James | 3 comments LOL I can't stand Rand either. I could never get through one of her novels so maybe i shouldn't talk, but I read her philosophy....and that was enough for me to dislike her completely lol.

message 13: by L (new)

L Dub | 2 comments Just Like Beauty - Lisa Lerner

don't let the pink cover turn you away.

it has a pretty fresh perspective written from the point of view of an adolescent girl being trained for a very important beauty pageant. it is set in a future full of domestic terrorism, giant insects, artificial EVERYTHING, and extreme sexism.


I must say that I despise Rand as well, and I'm quite relieved that someone else picked up on her many contradictions.

message 14: by Hank (new)

Hank (dystopia_hank) L - thanks, I'll look it up.

And on Rand - I think it was the moment when the main character was basically proclaiming, "I am an individual. I have a name. The individual is what matters. No man should have decisions made for him. And yet you, my woman, your name is" blah blah that I decided the whole Rand thing is more silly than serious.

message 15: by Jamie (new)

Jamie (verydressypants) | 1 comments Just joined the group--and I have joined you already... I decided 2008 would be my year of dystopic literature a couple months ago and have been working on a list that will not stop growing. I've read Animal Farm, Brave New World, The Handmaid's Tale, V for Vendetta, and I just finished We by Yevgeny Zamyatin. Loved it. I'm debating on whether or not any of the Jose Saramago books I've read count as dystopic. Are you including any apocalyptic books in your list? I decided against it, personally, just because I feel like it would make my vast list become TOO vast.

Happy (er...unhappy?) reading!

message 16: by Andy (new)

Andy (4ndyman) | 10 comments I usually include post-apocalyptic (not necessarily apocalyptic) fiction with dystopian fiction because it often has to do with how people cope with a new world order. And usually in those books, someone grabs power and misuses it.

I think you can add "The Penultimate Truth" by Phillip Dick to the list of dystopic fiction, too, though it has a horrible title.

message 17: by Amberjade (new)

Amberjade (amberrrjade) | 1 comments that is seriously one of the best books i have ever read. i really wasn't expecting what i got when i picked it up.

message 18: by Hank (new)

Hank (dystopia_hank) "Are you including any apocalyptic books in your list?"

Only if they are also clearly dystopian or have strong dystopian elements, like Level 7.

message 19: by [deleted user] (new)

A Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood

message 20: by Leanne (new)

Leanne (lea82) | 1 comments Good yearly plan, I must say! Be careful though, I love dystpian reads, but I think that after a year straight, I might have to kill myself.....


message 21: by Hank (new)

Hank (dystopia_hank) Actually, I've found it sort of hopeful. No matter how deep a hole the writer digs, we can't help adding a little bit of light somewhere, a maybe it'll work out somehow sort of feel in the bleakest works.

Plus, I'm already pretty distrustful of those in power, etc.

message 22: by Devon (new)

Devon  Start (mrbadexample) | 3 comments only thing i really liked about this was the body count at the end of each chapter. other than that it really glosses over the actual issues of the land is essentiall a retelling of lord of the flies, only far more violent.
the movie was ok, but left out rather a lot, like the really good ending chase. but that should say it all right there, the book ended with a chase scene. i think it would have been more powerful as an anime, or manga rather than a written novel(pretty sure it is a manga too)

its an ok book, but i wouldnt put it on a serious reading list if you were attempting to gain some insight or depth from said list.

it is intense, it just wasnt "all that"

message 23: by Devon (new)

Devon  Start (mrbadexample) | 3 comments sorry i was refering to battle royale, i didnt realize that hitting "reply" under that particular post wouldnt put some link or reference to that post. sorry new to this

message 24: by Hank (new)

Hank (dystopia_hank) Who's looking for insight or depth from just one book? I'm looking at dystopian fiction as a whole, from young adult novels to trash thrillers to deep-minded classics.

Battle Royale was a good adventure story. Aside from being kids on an island, it had little in common with Lord of the Flies, though. In fact, it was very nearly the opposite - on one side you have an exploration of what happens when a bunch of school kids are stranded, without any grownup help, and attempt to pull together to survive. On the other you have a group of kids guided almost exclusively by the will of adults in a situation where they have to attack each other to be the sole winner. Very different in terms of both physical story and the emotions explored.

I wouldn't exactly call Battle Royale deep, but it wasn't at all the shallowest thing I've read this year.

message 25: by Hrimcealde (new)

Hrimcealde | 1 comments This is my year of the Post-Apocalyptic/Dystopian novel, as well. It's doing weird things to my head, of course.

message 26: by Ubik (new)

Ubik | 5 comments I see no one has mentioned Prisoners of Power yet. I found this one quite good. Its both post-apocalyptic and dystopian. I would also recommend Cryptozoic! which is dystopian although it really just kinda sets the background for the story which is a mind-travel story.

message 27: by Devon (new)

Devon  Start (mrbadexample) | 3 comments as to battle royale, you sum it up pretty good with "its a good adventure story" that it is.
the lord of the flies reference, which you very succinctly picked apart requires some defence.
in both books the kids are forced to fend for themselves. while there is definitly an active will forcing thier hands in battle royale, both books show just how far we are from being innocent to becoming violent animals. how easily we can degenerate into a primitve state. dont let the fact that they are using computers and have complicated electronics around thier neck fool you. many of these kids become animals.
look at how quickly the sequence in the light house degenerates into a blood bath. while the paranoia they feel is forced on them, their actions are not. they could have continued to trust each other, but primitive self preservation takes over. society in a sense denudes us self preservation. you dont really need to preserve yourself when the society does a pretty handy job of that on its own(you should see what i mean here, he dont have many predators, we have laws to protect us from criminality..in theroy)

of course the emotions explored will be different, the cultures that spawned the books are very different as well. but both authors give the same verdict, remove the constraints of society and two things will happen. some will attempt to preserve or create a society, and some(the majority as often as not) will simply embrace the freedom of the primitive and indulge in violence.
the antagonist kid, the sociopath who flips a coin to decide should he help the whole to escape or play the game to win, because its all the same to him, i felt personified this. he is in someways the strongest of the group, and the weakest as empathy is not his strong suit. (i suppose a coat hanger to the brain will do that to you)

it wasnt shallow, i think it just belongs in manga form, or comic form

message 28: by Carolyn (last edited Nov 06, 2008 01:55PM) (new)

Carolyn (seeford) Definitely The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood, but also:

Walk to End of World, Motherlines, The Furies: Book Three of 'The Holdfast Chronicles', and The Conqueror's Child; a series by Suzy McKee Charnas

The Gate to Women's Country,
The Visitor, and Gibbons Decline and Fall all by Sheri S Tepper

The Shore of Women by Pamela Sargent

The Rising of the Moon by Flynn Connolly

Native Tongue and The Judas Rose : Native Tongue II by Suzette Haden Elgin

Anthem by Ayn Rand

The Declaration by Gemma Malley - the sequel is out this year, but I haven't read it yet...

Brave New World: Unabridged and Unadapted from the Original Text with Seventeen Related Readings and Island both by Adous Huxley

message 29: by Hank (new)

Hank (dystopia_hank) Hey, I got your suggestions on my blog. Thank you! Most of those are already on my list (or, in Tepper's case, I've already read them), but I'm adding the Charnas books. I appreciate you pointing them out.

message 30: by Patrick (last edited May 07, 2009 08:58PM) (new)

Patrick (horrorshow) | 10 comments Wow, it seemed that the scope of the dystopia concept is very broad. Also I would like to include Clockwork Orange, kind of an utopia for thugs.

message 31: by Hank (new)

Hank (dystopia_hank) Yep, that's one of the first one I reviewed.

message 32: by Patrick (new)

Patrick (horrorshow) | 10 comments Whoops, just me being obliviously obvious or obviously oblivious.

message 33: by Hank (new)

Hank (dystopia_hank) Well, it's a damn good suggestion regardless.

message 34: by Trudi (new)

Trudi (trudistafford) Hank wrote: "Who's looking for insight or depth from just one book? I'm looking at dystopian fiction as a whole, from young adult novels to trash thrillers to deep-minded classics..."

If you liked Battle Royale then you might want to give The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins a try (which is almost a kindler, gentler Western version of the Japanese novel, but still worth a read!) I suspect Collins has been influenced by King's Bachman books The Long Walk and The Running Man.

message 35: by Trudi (new)

Trudi (trudistafford) Great idea for a blog by the way! :-D

message 36: by Hank (new)

Hank (dystopia_hank) Thanks! I'm gonna take a look at the Hunger Games right now.

message 37: by Rhiannon (new)

Rhiannon Hart | 3 comments I've set myself up a winter dystopian challenge (cos down in the southern hemisphere it's winter right now!) at http://rhiannon-hart.blogspot.com/ My list isn't nearly as impressive as Hanks but it's certainly going to keep me busy!

message 38: by Hank (new)

Hank (dystopia_hank) That's funny - I just posted a comment on there to you!

message 39: by Rhiannon (new)

Rhiannon Hart | 3 comments I know! That's how I found you here! Very impressive list, by the way. When did your challenge start?

message 40: by Hank (last edited Jun 22, 2009 10:34AM) (new)

Hank (dystopia_hank) At the beginning of 2008. It was supposed to just be a year's epic event, but I'm still stuck on it. All my friends have told me they have no interest in ever hearing me say the word "dystopian" ever again.

message 41: by Rhiannon (new)

Rhiannon Hart | 3 comments HA! I know what you mean. Thank goodness for online communties as my friends are entirely sick of the phrases "young adult" "my blog" and "my book"!

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