Dystopias
Eventually, it will be 'My phone is spying on me'.
- Philip K. Dick


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Brave New World
by Aldous Huxley (1932)


A dystopian discourse on the dangers of technology and hedonistic pleasures. VR movies (feelies) and a psychedelic drug (soma) keep people in check, babies are genetically engineered, and human relationships lack intimacy. Two humans from the Savage Reservation cop fatal doses of mainstream society. A must-read for anyone interested in the historical development of the 'dystopia' subgenre.





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Anthem
by Ayn Rand (1938)


Russian-born American writer who developed the philosophy of Objectivism emphasising individualism and laissez-faire capitalism. The novella Anthem is set in a dystopian future where collectivism rules and notions of the individual are brutally subjugated. It is the story of Equality 7-2521 and his desire to learn, which lands him in deep trouble with the World Council of Scholars.





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Logan's Run
by William F. Nolan & George Clayton Johnson (1967)


In the 23rd century your life is over at age 21, due to an exploding population and diminishing resources. A 'Sandman' enforcement officer tracks down and terminates people who don't like the deal. A somewhat nice looking babe shows up and he ends up running himself. Followed by a feature film with a lineup of has-been and will-be stars, and then a (thankfully) brief TV series.





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The Futurological Congress
by Stanislaw Lem (1971; English edition 1974)


Polish satirist Stanislaw Lem sends cosmonaut Ijon Tichy to the Eighth Futurological Congress. Caught up in local revolution, he starts to experience hallucinations due to the government putting psychoactive drugs in the drinking water. Tichy is shot and so critically wounded that he is cryogenically flashfrozen to await a future cure. He awakes in a radically different future.





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The Sheep Look Up
by John Brunner (1972)


A bestselling campus favourite in its day that has been alternatively hailed as both a masterpiece of avant-garde and one of the worst sci-fi books ever written. A cataclysm has distorted the space-time continuum in the near-future city of Bellona. Madmen and criminals wander the streets. The young hero arrives and there's lots of violence, sex & philosophy... and he writes Dhalgren.





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Dhalgren
by Samuel R. Delany (1975)


A bestselling campus favourite in its day that has been alternatively hailed as both a masterpiece of avant-garde and one of the worst sci-fi books ever written. A cataclysm has distorted the space-time continuum in the near-future city of Bellona. Madmen and criminals wander the streets. The young hero arrives and there's lots of violence, sex & philosophy... and he writes Dhalgren.





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The Children of Men
by P.D. James (1992)


The human race has become infertile, and the last generation to be born is now adult. Civilisation itself is crumbling as suicide and despair become commonplace. A small group of revolutionaries may hold the key to survival for the human race as they search for a way to restore fertility and breed again. A superb social critique and theologically profound.





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Beggars in Spain
by Nancy Kress (1993)


A group of children are genetically modified so that they require no sleep. Economic recession sees them used as scapegoats for society's ills, leading to the formation of a Sanctuary colony on an orbiting space station where the Sleepless can live in peace. The hero remains in the mainstream to advocate tolerance and understanding. A vengeful conspiracy begins to unwind.





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Too Like the Lightning
by Ada Palmer (2016)


The world into which Mycroft and Carlyle have been born is a hard-won utopia built on technologically-generated abundance, and also on mandatory systems of labeling all public writing and speech. Most of the world's population is affiliated with clans of the like-minded, whose endless economic and cultural competition is manipulated by central planners of inestimable subtlety.


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