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TTT: Required Dystopian Fiction

I am so happy Top Ten Tuesday is back, it’s getting me to think about all these difficult prompts. (See the full list of prompts). Today’s theme is Back to School and I thought I’d compile my must read, faves, of Dystopian fiction. There will be some oldies, some classics. And then there will be the same ones I keep trumpeting about. And some new ones! I’ve organized the three eras in to the way I was exposed to them in my life: classics, middle faves, and new favorites.

Classics (coincidentally all written by men)

1984 George Orwell1984 by George Orwell

No dystopian list would be complete without these giants. They are some of the first dystopian classics I read. I don’t count things like the Hunger Games in my ‘classics’ list. 1984 was the first for me. It was transformational in my life. It just kind of clicked with me when I was in high school. I’m not sure if it’s the ‘reason’ I studied literature, but it was a huge factor. I think the other big puzzle piece to that question was probably science fiction. But that’s a reason for another day.

Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

Shortly after I ended up reading Brave New World in a comparison essay. This is like a more advanced 1984 in terms of technology and less emphasis on surveillance. For me, there was more societal commentary clicking – in terms of people who were willing to be in denial – here. This was also influential in my life, as I started trying on the different costumes of dystopias.

Middle Faves (coincidentally all written by women)Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood

Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood

This was SO important for my literature career. I fell in love with Atwood because of this novel and desperately wanted to use it in a thesis, but it never fit. My loss really. (By the way, I know you’ll either stop reading my posts because I mention this book so much, or you’ll actually read it. It’s a risk I’m willing to take). This book was just everything to me. It was the first science fiction that hit me and resonated with me. Before it seemed like such a boys club, at school, and I was never allowed in. This isn’t just my perspective. My ex took a science fiction class and the gobs of people that waited after to talk to him were men, and so I was actually excluded from the conversations when I was waiting and listening to the lectures. So Atwood, I salute you. Also there’s The Handmaid’s Tale, which is wildly popular now, and is getting all the love. So I merely mention it as an afterthought. But when I was reading it, I indeed fell in love.

He she and it by marge piercyHe, She, and It by Marge Piercy

So I actually did use this for my latest thesis. This is one of those dystopias, but there is a little space of the novel where there is a critical utopia. There’s hope, to say the least. This book is perfection for so many other reasons: the integration of Jewish myths, the cyborg element, a Frankenstein commentary. And much more. I actually recommend this to almost everyone I know who might read it. Because I love it so dearly. In fact, each time I re-read this I get so much more out of it. (Also the title is a good indication of the play it has with gender). With a cover like that, you can definitelt see the interplay between the critical utopia and dystopia. I actually never even considered the cover since I mostly read it without the dust jacket.

The Stone Gods by Jeanette Winterson

Like most Jeanette Winterson books, it is always a journey. Winterson takes us on this wild ride across the universe that plays with the very nature of time. There’s robots and spaceships and environmental destruction and fate and just everything. This warrants a re-read from me when I am home, and then I’ll review it here. But it is so fabulous. I know that each time I look at it again, I pick up something new. It’s one of those books that grows on you long after you’ve closed the cover.

vN by madeline ashbyNew Faves

Vn by Madeline Ashby

I used this for my recent thesis as well. So sorry for all the cyborgs here. But I’ve just been in that kind of mood. This is a questionable dystopia because 1) it isn’t shelved as such and 2) it depends on whose perspective and opinion you have. For me, it seemed like a dystopia because of the injustices that the robots, Vn, have. But that’s just my perspective. As I mentioned in my Utopia/Dsytopia post, these titles are just all so subjective.

The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi

This book has all sorts of social commentary – as most dystopias do – and the commentary it has on the environment is just amazing. Not to mention there’s another cyborg, seriously so sorry (but am I really?), and she is amazingly complex. But then again there’s multiple perspectives that talk about other issues such as corruption and ethics.

It’s just so fantastic. I realize this whole post has been just feelings and OMG statements, but I wouldn’t recommend them if I didn’t genuinely love them. I could name so many more, so if you want a second post, let me know with a comment.


What’s your favorite dystopias?

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18 thoughts on “TTT: Required Dystopian Fiction

  1. Brilliant list! I was never that into dystopian stories but lately they’re really appealing to me. Only a few years behind the trend lol. The Wind-up Girl and He, She and It both sound amazing (Frankenstien?!). I’m going to head over to Amazon and look for them.

  2. vN looks really interesting. I’m going to have to check it out. I’ve read a few of the others. I’ve also learned I cannot go a whole month only reading dystopian without getting really depressed. You’re welcome for that fact about myself, haha

  3. I don’t tend to read dystopian novels too much, only because I find them heavily on the political and I find it hard to read them basically.
    I really do need to try some classics though, at the moment I just have not found one that appeals to me really

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