"Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested." (Francis Bacon)

Monday, May 02, 2011

Dystopian Literature Week

Ack! I thought I'd posted this already, but it was left languishing in "drafts." And now, it's a bit out-of-date, but still, here it is. Which means, as usual, it's either feast or famine on this blog. No posts or a glut of them. :)


Tor.com announced it would feature dystopian literature week.And since dystopian literature is among my favorite genres, typically closely related to science fiction, I thought I'd share my favorite dystopian novels. A number were assigned in school, but I started reading dystopian novels back when I was a kid, even before being assigned them in class. I even took a course in college on Utopian and Dystopian Literature to fill my lit requirement for my BA.

As with the best science fiction, dystopian fiction sheds a light on society, and the best seem so tuned in to human nature that the stories still resonate decades after their publication. George Orwell's 1984 is one such book, its doublethink so relevant today with a media that distorts the news to fit a political agenda. As for what qualifies as dystopian fiction, that's subjective. I have a few quibbles with this list on Wikipedia.

A lot of books for me are more post-apocolyptic novels, rather than dystopian. And some fall under both categories. The YA books Wolf of Shadows (by Whitley Strieber) and Z for Zachariah (by Robert C. O'Brien) are both excellent post-apocolyptic novels, while David Brin's The Postman (much, much better than that awful movie they made of it) works as both post-apocolyptic and as a dystopia.

My parents had a lot of books, including an old pulp paperback of  1984, which is the first books I read in this genre. I loved it, but it was that cover that sticks with me, putting an odd spin on the book that I would not have gotten from a blander cover. The book was very noirish to me.

Another favorite was Aldous Huxley's Brave New World. Another favorite was Zamyatin's We, which I read in college (for a course on utopian and dystopian literature!), although that apparently was a poor translation. I have a later edition that is supposed to be closer to the original and will read it one of these days.

I'll put the "just finished reading them" Hunger Games trilogy on my favorites list, too.

Do you have any favorite dystopian novels?

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