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Commonly extrapolating elements of current society, dystopian fiction explores the darker side of possible worlds. Discover more than a Brave New World here.
Selected for the Man Booker 2005 Shortlist. Kazuo Ishiguro has been acclaimed in the Sunday Times for 'extending the possibilities of fiction'. In Never Let Me Go he has fashioned another remarkable story - a story of love, loss and hidden truths - that takes its place among his finest work. Download an extract and make up your own mind.
Thrilling and thought-provoking in equal measure, this is a novel about hope and survival. Set in an imaginatively (yet, quite possibly realistic) created Glasgow of the future (It’s 2099) and beautifully written in stark, yet simple and lyrical prose. Don’t think of the novel as science fiction or fantasy just because it’s set in the future for this is a book that should be read by all for given the current serious discussions on climate change and its consequences, it could well be very relevant to our whole future. We've picked this out from the crowd as the sequel - Zenith- to it is published later this month and for all those who've yet to read this one, we thought we should give you the chance to do so.
This was hailed as one of the most extraordinary debuts when it was first published in 2000. Set in the near future on the east coast of England that has been reclaimed by the sea it tells the story of a girl who, having been mistakenly left behind by her parents escaping from the flood, she heads off to find them but ends up in the hands of a mob of nasty men on a small island. This is essential reading for it paints a vivid picture of what life may well be like in the not too distant future if we don’t do something NOW about global warming. Rest assured though it’s not a rant about that but the author brilliantly interweaves our possible future into an utterly compelling story.
July 2013 Guest Editor Cath Staincliffe on The Handmaid's Tale... A story about a terrifying dystopian world, ruled by a military and religious dictatorship which is homophobic, racist and misogynistic. Where infertility is rife, the handmaid’s role is to bear children for the ruling class. This chilling book imagines what a backlash to feminism might lead to and though it is horrifying there is also humanity, wit and humour in the writing. One of Hardeep Singh Kohli's favourite books. September 2010 Guest Editor Belle de Jour on Margaret Atwood... Atwood’s books hugely influenced my reading style (though probably not my writing style!). I love the way she weaves research so seamlessly into her stories. In the hands of a lesser writer, some of her books might be mere dystopian sci-fi, but she makes the characters as real as documentary. The Handmaid’s Tale, in particular, influenced a lot how I think about politics, religion, and feminism.
Nearly a quarter of a century after its initial appearance, Gibson’s groundbreaking cyberpunk debut has lost none of its modernity and fascination. Extrapolating the world of the internet and video games culture, an unforgettable vision of a future where data, sprawling cities, artificial intelligences and multi corporations fight an invisible war, as seen through the buccaneering computer jockeys who surf its interfaces.
Guy Montag is a fireman. His job is to burn books, which are forbidden, being the source of all discord and unhappiness. Even so, Montag is unhappy; there is discord in his marriage. Are books hidden in his house? The Mechanical Hound of the Fire Department, armed with a lethal hypodermic, escorted by helicopters, is ready to track down those dissidents who defy society to preserve and read books. The classic novel of a post-literate future, 'Fahrenheit 451' stands alongside Orwell's '1984' and Huxley's 'Brave New World' as a prophetic account of Western civilization's enslavement by the media, drugs and conformity. Bradbury's powerful and poetic prose combines with uncanny insight into the potential of technology to create a novel which over fifty years from first publication, still has the power to dazzle and shock.
We know you are here, our brothers and sisters. We will, one day, emerge from the Dome to join you in peace. For now, we watch from afar, benevolently. Pressia Belze has lived outside of the Dome ever since the detonations. Struggling for survival she dreams of life inside the safety of the Dome with the 'Pure'. Partridge, himself a Pure, knows that life inside the Dome, under the strict control of the leaders' regime, isn't as perfect as others think. Bound by a history that neither can clearly remember, Pressia and Partridge are destined to forge a new world.
Dystopia - The opposite of Utopia.
ORIGIN late 18th cent.: from dys-‘bad’ + Utopia. An imagined place or state in which everything is unpleasant or bad, typically a totalitarian or environmentally degraded one.
H.G. Wells was the first popular dystopian writer with the Time Machine (1895) in which the future doesn’t bring continuous improvements in human kind, rather its demise to the baser darker side of our nature. Through Metamorphosis (1915) by Franz Kafka, Brave New World (1932) by Aldous Huxley Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949) by George Orwell and on to The Handmaid's Tale (1985) by Margaret Atwood dystopian fiction continues to probe the darker areas of the human condition.
Perhaps all the end of world prophecies have fueled the demand, never the less the contemporary dystopian offerings are proving popular reading – especially among a younger audience. We hope you enjoy the selection.