Dystopias
My phone is spying on me and the clocks are striking thirteen


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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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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 Handmaid's Tale
by Margaret Atwood (1985)


Near-future tale set in the oppressive Republic of Gilead, where the few women left that can still give birth ('Handmaids') become virtual slaves of the state. Offred is assigned to a powerful military leader and the relationship gets complicated. Funny, unexpected, horrifying, and altogether convincing, the book is all at once a scathing satire, dire warning, and tour de force.





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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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The Hunger Games [S1]
by Suzanne Collins (2008)


Sometime in the future after the destruction of North America in a nation known as Panem, the 74th Hunger Games begins. The games are an annual fight-to-the-death gladiatorial-style event featuring two participants from each of the 12 districts - one boy and one girl between the ages of 12 and 18 - chosen by lottery. When her sister is chosen Katniss Everdeen volunteers to take her place.





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Shift [S2]
by Hugh Howey (2013)


In 2007, the Center for Automation in Nanobiotech (CAN) outlined the hardware and software platform that would one day allow robots smaller than human cells to make medical diagnoses, conduct repairs, and even self-propagate. Elsewhere, concerns were escalating about the effects of propranolol, a pill that can wipe out the memory of any traumatic event, that might also be humanity’s downfall.


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