Commonly extrapolating elements of current society, dystopian fiction explores the darker side of possible worlds. Discover more than a Brave New World here.
What happens when all the personal information held by tech companies is no longer private? What happens when this code of ethics is broken? When everyone in your world - in the world – can know all your secrets? This thoroughly thought-provoking novel addresses such questions - and more - as it explores the all-encompassing impact of recent, emerging and conjectured future technology through a haunting and powerfully personal account of one woman’s life. It’s 1997 and, at the tender age of 17, Laura Bow has created a basic artificial intelligence, which she names Organon after a Kate Bush lyric. Organon begins life as Laura’s imaginary friend. This creation is her outlet, a vent, a means of dealing with the loss of her father who vanished when she was seven. As Laura grows older and gains more experiences and memories, for a time working at the tech company her father founded and sold shortly before he disappeared, so Organon grows with her. Much like a skilled human personal assistant, it informs and supports Laura through her life, managing what she needs to be aware of, filtering out the superfluous, and anticipating her needs. But, as new technologies are developed and companies create intelligences with far less morality programmed into them than Organon, millions of personal and political secrets are unleashed and the world is sent reeling to the brink of breakdown. Shifting forward in decades from 1997, the cleverly-spun narrative spans Laura’s entire life, from the early years of dial-up Internet, to a speculative future that serves as something of a wake-up call. Taking in artificial intelligence, human intelligence, love, loss, and meaningful memories, this novel might make you reflect on how much time you spend online, and what you do and disclose there. Above all, this is an absorbing story about humanity, making moral choices and living your best life with love and ethics.
This is a pretty unsettling and powerfully compelling debut, well worth a read for the original storyline alone. The world seems to stop and some people hear the words ‘My Children. Do not be afraid’. Confusion and terror reign and we follow the lives of 26 people not all of which heard the message. This gripping is a high concept dystopian thriller that will appeal to fans of Inception or Flashforward and we look forward to seeing what James Smythe follows it up with.
A cracking sci-fi post-apocalyptic adventure thriller for teens. When Thomas wakes up, walks out of the lift he’s in he finds himself in a walled encampment – the Glade - surrounded by a maze alongside lots of boys. He wonders how he got there but no one knows. All they all know is that every 30 days a new boy arrives and every morning the big wall comes down between the Glade and the world inhabited by the terrifying Grievers, part-animal, part machine, and the boys will risk everything, to find out why they’re there and every evening the wall goes up again. This really is adrenalin pumping reading that fans of Michael Grant’s Gone series, The Hunger Games and Lord of the Flies will love.
In the author’s alternate 1980s Britain (which he parallels with the current political climate), Britain has lost the Falklands War, Thatcher is fighting for her political life as Tony Benn’s socialism engenders feverish devotion from young voters, and the country is on the verge of leaving Europe. Alongside these tides of change Alan Turing has created a small quantity of expensive, advanced artificial humans called Adams and Eves. Enter our drifter protagonist, 32-year-old Charlie Friend, who blows most of his inheritance on an Adam. He and his younger girlfriend Miranda share in Adam’s co-creation, both of them having a hand in determining Adam’s personality. The first of many challenges come when Adam and Miranda have sex, which leaves Charlie angry and humiliated: “He was a bipedal vibrator and I was the very latest in cuckolds”. And then Adam betrays Miranda, revealing to Charlie that she’s been lying to him. Moral dilemmas and existential questions abound when it seems that Adam is in love with Miranda in a very human sense, a love that’s partly exhibited through his penning of thousands of heartfelt love haikus. Alongside the oft-explored questions around sentience and what it means to be human, this often entertaining novel provokes fresh thought through Miranda’s complicated, tragic past, the characters’ complex current love triangle, and the future she and Charlie might forge for themselves.
This is the much-anticipated final instalment of the Wool trilogy. The next Hunger Games . (The Sunday Times). Thrilling, thought-provoking and memorable ...one of dystopian fiction's masterpieces alongside the likes of 1984 and Brave New World . (Daily Express). In the aftermath of the uprising, the people of Silo 18 are coming to terms with a new order. Some embrace the change, others fear the unknown; none have control of their fate. The Silo is still in danger. There are those set on its destruction. Jules knows they must be stopped. The battle has been won. The war is just beginning.
A shocking and stunning dystopian thriller from the Richard & Judy selected author of Mudbound. The story is set in a very right-wing near future America, where criminals are released back into society, injected with a colour and where abortion is classed as murder. If you liked The Handmaid's Tale this is definitely worth reading and it’s a perfect book for reading groups, as we can imagine some very heated discussions.
When a Victorian scientist propels himself into the year 802,701 AD, he is initially delighted to find that suffering has been replaced by beauty, contentment and peace. Entranced at first by the Eloi, an elfin species descended from man, he soon realises that this beautiful people are simply remnants of a once-great culture now weak and childishly afraid of the dark. They have every reason to be afraid: in deep tunnels beneath their paradise lurks another race descended from humanity the sinister Morlocks. And when the scientist's time machine vanishes, it becomes clear he must search these tunnels, if he is ever to return to his own era.
One of our Great Reads you may have missed in 2011. A brilliant thriller with a modern sensibility and super-fast pace and suspense that will delight fans of classic thrillers and films. Carrying on the tradition of ‘what if’ history novels started by Len Deighton with SS GB and continued with Robert Harris’ Fatherland The Afrika Reich is set in an alternative 1952. After the fiasco at Dunkirk forced Britain into an uneasy peace with Germany the Third Reich now control Europe and most of Africa. A personal feud forces a British mercenary on a reckless ‘last mission’, it goes horribly wrong and he is hunted down. This explosive thriller is a meticulously researched debut novel that is a must read for any fan of Robert Harris or Len Deighton. Click here to visit Guy Saville's blog and find out more about the book.
One of the most renowned classics of all time was brought to us by George Orwell in 1949. A compelling, striking nightmarish vision of a dystopian world, this remains one of the most chilling yet favourite books I've ever read and one of the best openings of a book ever: "It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen" So much of it has entered our language, becoming an integrated part of our common cultural inheritance, that I'm sure many people don't even realise their beginnings. It is the year 1984 and the world is divided into three superstates each at war with eachother. Britain is Airstrip One ruled by the Party and led by Big Brother, the symbolic face of totalitarianism. Even love is considered subversive and we follow the story of Winston Smith who works in the Ministry of Truth where his job is to rewrite the past to fit the present. Depicting everyman, Winston begins to subtlely rebel by writing a secret diary, a deadly thought crime in a society where the actions and thoughts of the people are strictly controlled through propaganda, secrecy, constant surveillance, and harsh punishment. Where will it end? This book will stay with you, and will never be forgotten. Visit our '50 Classics Everyone Should Read' collection to discover more classic titles.
Winston Smith works for the Ministry of Truth in London, chief city of Airstrip One. Big Brother stares out from every poster, the Thought Police uncover every act of betrayal. When Winston finds love with Julia, he discovers that life does not have to be dull and deadening, and awakens to new possibilities. Despite the police helicopters that hover and circle overhead, Winston and Julia begin to question the Party; they are drawn towards conspiracy. Yet Big Brother will not tolerate dissent - even in the mind. For those with original thoughts they invented Room 101. Nineteen Eight-Four is George Orwell's terrifying vision of a totalitarian future in which everything and everyone is slave to a tyrannical regime.
When the downtrodden animals of Manor Farm overthrow their master Mr Jones and take over the farm themselves, they imagine it is the beginning of a life of freedom and equality. But gradually a cunning, ruthless elite among them, masterminded by the pigs Napoleon and Snowball, starts to take control. Soon the other animals discover that they are not all as equal as they thought, and find themselves hopelessly ensnared as one form of tyranny is replaced with another.
A powerful, gripping and tense futuristic novel about a world which has gone mad, a world where life is forever except for the likes of Peter and Anna (who shouldn’t be there at all according to the declaration) who are struggling to escape the past in order to find a better future. The Declaration is a chilling, dystopian view of how life may be in the not too far off future, reminiscent of Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale and PD James's The Children of Men but written for a young teenage audience. It’s a novel that highlights many issues which affect us today in modern Britain: the obsession with youth and beauty; our pill-popping culture where each ailment can be remedied with some unknown chemical cure; the over-population of the earth; our age-old fear of teenage culture. The author, Gemma Malley has expressed quite brilliantly and concisely these many different issues in this ground-breaking, mesmerizing and compelling novel. To find out even more about this series click here to visit a site created by the publisher. Click here to download a document where Gemma talks about the inspriation behind the Declaration series.
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.