Author Topic: Dystopian Reading List  (Read 452 times)

Captain Crunch

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Dystopian Reading List
« on: January 06, 2019, 06:42:33 PM »
It seems like after a few years of massive popularity, this stuff is now slowly falling out of favour.  Probably because there has been some proper dross put out under the banner;  the ‘Matched‘ trilogy for example is painfully awful and seems to sum up what can go wrong with sort of thing.  Flabby, tedious crap about some misfit girl who has to choose between two dummy-boys taking attention away from any interesting future-world-gone-mad type stuff. 

However, check out this reading list from a couple of years back.

I’ve been picking at it on and off and while the early books are entirely predictable (We, 1984, Fahrenheit 451 (but no ‘One’?)) some of the later choices are quite interesting.

‘Super Sad True Love Story’ is a brilliant book and has my favourite type of Dystopia, one where little touches are just amped up to be believable but still shocking.  Here the money issue is very good, no-one has any real cash, just a credit score which is visible to everyone along with reviews of your sexual performance.  It also has the authoritarian bits like “by reading this sign you have implied consent”.

‘You Too Can Have a Body Like Mine’ is another winner, the society is not as well-defined here but the surreal touches in the TV adverts and the supermarket workers wearing giant foam smiling heads makes it very enjoyable. 

On the down side ‘The Just City’ is one of the most boring books I’ve ever read and ‘When She Woke’ was a great idea that just fell short in execution which seems to be an issue with a lot of dystopian stuff. 

I haven’t read all the books on the list but I’m getting there.  Any of your favourites on there or any glaring omissions? 



Pingers

  • With the ill behaviour
Re: Dystopian Reading List
« Reply #1 on: January 06, 2019, 07:14:03 PM »
Some you could possibly add to such a list:

White Noise by Don Delillo (recently discussed on here in a different thread, and an excellent read)

The War with the Newts by Karel Capek - quirky, prescient satire, which I didn't think was as good as everyone else says, but still think is worth a read

Highrise by J.G. Ballard (shit, in my opinion)

The Melancholy of Resistance by Laszlo Krasznahorkai (excellent - disturbing, dreamlike, dark and superbly well-written)

The Year of the Flood by Margaret Atwood (Oryx & Crake is on the list, this is just as good in my opinion, essentially the same story but from a different perspective, which you might think wouldn't work but does)

A Scanner Darkly by Philip K. Dick

Vineland by Thomas Pynchon (ridiculously good)

Of the ones on the list, I like Riddley Walker and Never Let Me Go the most - both heartbreaking in their own way, and absolute stand-out, stand-the-test-of-time classics.


Re: Dystopian Reading List
« Reply #2 on: January 06, 2019, 07:55:16 PM »
From recent years I can think of Hugh Howey's three books, Wool, Shift, and Dust which are all worth reading.

Pingers

  • With the ill behaviour
Re: Dystopian Reading List
« Reply #3 on: January 06, 2019, 08:01:19 PM »
From recent years I can think of Hugh Howey's three books, Wool, Shift, and Dust which are all worth reading.

Could you give us a flavour of what they're like and what's good about them?

Re: Dystopian Reading List
« Reply #4 on: January 06, 2019, 08:03:00 PM »
The Conservative Party manifesto.

chveik

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Re: Dystopian Reading List
« Reply #5 on: January 06, 2019, 08:07:32 PM »
Great novels that haven't been mentioned yet:

The Egghead Republic by Arno Schmidt
The Adjacent by Christopher Priest
The World Inside by Robert Silverberg
Lanark by Alasdair Gray
The Horde of Counterwind by Alain Damasio
Minor Angels by Antoine Volodine

A few great comics & mangas: Sweet Tooth, Dragon Head, 20th Century Boys, Blame!, Nikopol Trilogy, Freak Angels, Trees

Pingers

  • With the ill behaviour
Re: Dystopian Reading List
« Reply #6 on: January 06, 2019, 09:41:51 PM »
Lanark looks great, I'll put that on my list of books I'll get time to read in about 10 years.

Re: Dystopian Reading List
« Reply #7 on: January 06, 2019, 10:22:25 PM »
Could you give us a flavour of what they're like and what's good about them?

It starts really small - the first short story that he wrote is just about one man's actions walking out of a silo in a long-term, post-apocalyptic scenario. Then as the stories continue you learn more about the silo, how it operates and the reason for its existence, and eventually it starts moving around in time to tell the whole history.

Re: Dystopian Reading List
« Reply #8 on: January 07, 2019, 02:24:49 AM »
Pingers- have you read Capek's The Absolute at Large?  It's about a scientist who discovers a device which can crack open an atom and release a tiny sliver of God contained within.  The result is initially a blast of elation, but soon the whole world gets enveloped in consumptive religious cults.  It's actually so much funnier than that sounds- Czechs in general tend to have a killer dry sense of humour, as well as unfathomable imaginations.  The chapter about the postman in the driving snow was particularly hilarious.


As to others fitting the topic, there are so many.  An interesting one is Sarban's A Sound of His Horn.  Sarban was the pseudonym for a British diplomat, and the three books he wrote under the moniker in the '50s are fascinating domination fantasies.  The Doll Maker's my favourite, but Horn's probably more sui generis.  It's a bit like The Man In The High Castle written by a repressed sexual sadist: in an alternative future where the Nazis have won the war, they fashion a holiday camp for rich tourists where they can hunt and kill sexy, naked cat-women.  Sarban's a genuinely good writer, and an interesting psychological case, so it is most certainly not just pulp.

chveik

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Re: Dystopian Reading List
« Reply #9 on: January 07, 2019, 02:33:01 AM »
you seem to have a taste for oddities Sin Agog ;)

Re: Dystopian Reading List
« Reply #10 on: January 07, 2019, 02:40:55 AM »
Ha.  All just part of an attempt at building artificial character, I reckon.

chveik

  • TOTALLY CURED
Re: Dystopian Reading List
« Reply #11 on: January 07, 2019, 02:59:30 AM »
I wasn't saying that in a sarcastic way, in fact I like to hear about things that I would have never come across on my own.

Re: Dystopian Reading List
« Reply #12 on: January 07, 2019, 03:04:52 AM »
Didn't take it like that.  Hey, I re-read FreakAngels a couple of months ago, and it's really one of the best 'hang-out comics'.  Lot of Britpoppy references that seem a bit dopey now, but some very vivid characters.  Wonder if it's still available online?  Guess so.

Pingers

  • With the ill behaviour
Re: Dystopian Reading List
« Reply #13 on: January 07, 2019, 07:14:11 AM »
Pingers- have you read Capek's The Absolute at Large?  It's about a scientist who discovers a device which can crack open an atom and release a tiny sliver of God contained within.  The result is initially a blast of elation, but soon the whole world gets enveloped in consumptive religious cults.  It's actually so much funnier than that sounds- Czechs in general tend to have a killer dry sense of humour, as well as unfathomable imaginations.  The chapter about the postman in the driving snow was particularly hilarious.

No, I've only read War with the Newts. He definitely had some good ideas: War with the Newts is about a sea captain who discovers a type of intelligent large salamander that can be taught to use and understand language and is very useful for underwater construction. Soon, various nations are breeding the newts for free labour but eventually the newts turn on the humans. At times it is good satire, at others it is more like broad-brush stereotyping (Communists are like this, liberals are like that, Catholics are like this, etc.). The latter part where the humans are economically dependent on the newts while being destroyed by them is done well, and reading it now against the backdrop of capitalist-led climate change feels very relevant.

Re: Dystopian Reading List
« Reply #14 on: January 07, 2019, 01:13:35 PM »
He also came up with the word 'robot.' Was a weird experience seeing his name mentioned on one of those dreary quizzes my step-dad fritters his afternoons away watching.

Another one.  The Other Side by illustrator Alfred Kubin is about a guy who receives an invitation to join an old school chum who's started his own kingdom in the middle of nowhere.  I used to have this weird theory that we have, locked inside our dna, a vision of the endtimes and the dying earth.  At least that would explain some of the more fucked up dreams I've had over the years.  This kingdom rapidly becomes tainted by a toxic overflow of just the kind of things that people these visions and we never remember.  More painters should try their hand at writing if this is anything to go by.