Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Dystopias and Utopias

Running tab of all the great utopias and their evil twins, dystopias, that are out there, both old and new. This list is by no means complete, as it consists primarily of books that I've had the opportunity to read and categorize as utopias/dystopias. Organized alphabetically by author; summaries are from GoodReads, Amazon, or Wikipedia. If I've reviewed them, the link to my review is included.
This list will continue to be updated, with a link to this post included under the tab "book lists."

Enclave by Ann Aguirre (2011)
my review
In Deuce’s world, people earn the right to a name only if they survive their first fifteen years. By that point, each unnamed ‘brat’ has trained into one of three groups–Breeders, Builders, or Hunters, identifiable by the number of scars they bear on their arms. Deuce has wanted to be a Huntress for as long as she can remember. As a Huntress, her purpose is clear—to brave the dangerous tunnels outside the enclave and bring back meat to feed the group while evading ferocious monsters known as Freaks. She’s worked toward this goal her whole life, and nothing’s going to stop her, not even a beautiful, brooding Hunter named Fade. When the mysterious boy becomes her partner, Deuce’s troubles are just beginning. Down below, deviation from the rules is punished swiftly and harshly, and Fade doesn’t like following orders. At first she thinks he’s crazy, but as death stalks their sanctuary, and it becomes clear the elders don’t always know best, Deuce wonders if Fade might be telling the truth. Her partner confuses her; she’s never known a boy like him before, as prone to touching her gently as using his knives with feral grace. As Deuce’s perception shifts, so does the balance in the constant battle for survival. The mindless Freaks, once considered a threat only due to their sheer numbers, show signs of cunning and strategy… but the elders refuse to heed any warnings. Despite imminent disaster, the enclave puts their faith in strictures and sacrifice instead. No matter how she tries, Deuce cannot stem the dark tide that carries her far from the only world she’s ever known.

Restoring Harmony by Joelle Anthony (2010)
The year is 2041, and sixteen-year-old Molly McClure has lived a relatively quiet life on an isolated farming island in Canada, but when her family fears the worst may have happened to her grandparents in the US, Molly must brave the dangerous, chaotic world left after global economic collapse—one of massive oil shortages, rampant crime, and abandoned cities. Molly is relieved to find her grandparents alive in their Portland suburb, but they're financially ruined and practically starving. What should've been a quick trip turns into a full-fledged rescue mission. And when Molly witnesses something the local crime bosses wishes she hadn't, Molly's only way home may be to beat them at their own game. Luckily, there's a handsome stranger who's willing to help.


The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood (1985)
It is the world of the near future, and Offred is a Handmaid in the home of the Commander and his wife. She is allowed out once a day to the food market, she is not permitted to read, and she is hoping the Commander makes her pregnant, because she is only valued if her ovaries are viable. Offred can remember the years before, when she was an independent woman, had a job of her own, a husband and child. But all of that is gone now...everything has changed.

Drought by Pam Bachorz (2011)
my review
Ruby Prosser dreams of escaping the Congregation and the early-nineteenth century lifestyle that’s been practiced since the community was first enslaved. She plots to escape the vicious Darwin West, his cruel Overseers, and the daily struggle to gather the life-prolonging Water that keeps the Congregants alive and gives Darwin his wealth and power. But if Ruby leaves, the Congregation will die without the secret ingredient that makes the Water special: her blood. So she stays. But when Ruby meets Ford, the new Overseer who seems barely older than herself, her desire for freedom is too strong. He’s sympathetic, irresistible, forbidden—and her only access to the modern world. Escape with Ford would be so simple, but can Ruby risk the terrible price, dooming the only world she’s ever known?






The New Atlantis by Francis Bacon (1624)
In this work, Bacon portrayed a vision of the future of human discovery and knowledge, expressing his aspirations and ideals for humankind. The novel depicts the creation of a utopian land where "generosity and enlightenment, dignity and splendour, piety and public spirit" are the commonly held qualities of the inhabitants of "Bensalem". The plan and organization of his ideal college, "Salomon's House" (or Solomon's House) envisioned the modern research university in both applied and pure sciences.


Jennifer Government by Max Barry (2004)
In Barry's twisted, hilarious vision of the near future, the world is run by giant American corporations and employees take the last name of the companies they work for. Hot on the trail of John Nike, an executive from the land of Marketing, is agent Jennifer Government, the consumer watchdog from hell. Taxation has been abolished, the government has been privatized, and employees take the surname of the company they work for. It's a brave new corporate world, but you don't want to be caught without a platinum credit card--as lowly Merchandising Officer Hack Nike is about to find out. Trapped into building street cred for a new line of $2500 sneakers by shooting customers, Hack attracts the barcode-tattooed eye of the legendary Jennifer Government. A stressed-out single mom, corporate watchdog, and government agent who has to rustle up funding before she's allowed to fight crime, Jennifer Government is holding a closing down sale--and everything must go. A wickedly satirical and outrageous thriller about globalization and marketing hype.

Looking Backward, 2000-1887 by Edward Bellamy (1888)
First published in 1888 and a phenomenal best-seller, Looking Backwardis Edward Bellamy's utopian novel about ninteenth-century Bostonian who awakes after a sleep for more than one hundred years to find himself in the year 2000 in a world of near-perfect cooperation, harmony, and prosperity. More than just a fanciful novel, Looking Backward was, in effect, Bellamy's blueprint for a socialist-type state, conceived in response to problems of the Gilded Age brought on in part by the pace of the late-nineteenth-century industrialization. The novel had an enormous impact at the time of its publication, setting in motion a wave of reform activity and creating a vogue for utopian novels that continued over the next three decades. 

Equality by Edward Bellamy (1897)
Equality, first published in 1897, is the sequel to the 1888 book, Looking Backward-Bellamy's most popular work about a utopian Boston-and a response to the many criticisms of the first book. In Equality, Bellamy answers those charges. Here, Bellamy addresses more social concerns of his day and delves into the more minor details of the lives of the futuristic Bostonians, including manners of dress and dining. Readers will be entertained by Bellamy's imaginings of the future, including recycled paper clothes and self-heating paper cookware.


Kallocain by Karin Boye (1940)
"This is a novel of the future, profoundly sinister in its vision of a drab terror. Ironic and detached, the author shows us the totalitarian World-state through the eyes of a product of that state, scientist Leo Kall. Kall has invented a drug, kallocain, which denies the privacy of thought and is the final step towards the transmutation of the individual human being into a "happy, healthy cell in the state organism." For, says Leo, "from thoughts and feelings, words and actions are born. How then could these thoughts and feelings belong to the individual? Doesn't the whole fellow-soldier belong to the state? To whom should his thoughts and feelings belong then, if not to the state?"" As the first-person record of Leo Kall, scientist, fellow-soldier too late disillusioned to undo his previous actions, Kallocain achieves a chilling power and veracity that place it among the finest novels to emerge from the strife-torn Europe of the twentieth century.

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury (1953)
Guy Montag is a book-burning fireman undergoing a crisis of faith. His wife spends all day with her television "family," imploring Montag to work harder so that they can afford a fourth TV wall. Their dull, empty life sharply contrasts with that of his next-door neighbor Clarisse, a young girl thrilled by the ideas in books, and more interested in what she can see in the world around her than in the mindless chatter of the tube. When Clarisse disappears mysteriously, Montag is moved to make some changes, and starts hiding books in his home. Eventually, his wife turns him in, and he must answer the call to burn his secret cache of books. After fleeing to avoid arrest, Montag winds up joining an outlaw band of scholars who keep the contents of books in their heads, waiting for the time society will once again need the wisdom of literature.


Proud Man by Katharine Burdekin (1934)
Originally published in England in 1934, this searing, timely novel offers and incisive critique of the sexual politics and militarism of England, and the West as a whole, in the post-World War I years. The novel is told from the perspective of a "Genuine Person" who has been hurtled thousands of years back in time from a future society whose citizens are peaceful, androgynous, self-fertilizing, vegetarian, and without national government and artificial social divisions of gender and class. Taking on first female, then male form, the Genuine Person confronts the reality of England in the 1930s: a society deeply troubled by fascism, the aftermath of war, gender and class divisions, religious hypocrisy, national chauvinism, and the breakdown of families and other social institutions. The protagonist is drawn into relationships with a priest who teachers her/him the English language, a woman struggling with sexual politics and sexual identity, and a man haunted by a murder he committed, driven by his deeply ingrained hatred and fear of women. This powerful novel by a master of dystopian fiction raises disturbing questions about war and peace and the nature of human relationships in an oppressive culture.


The End of This Day's Business by Katharine Burdekin (1990)
Written in 1935 but never published until now, this novel depicts a world ruled by women some 4,000 years into the future. Men live alone and rear boys in a cheerful atmosphere of sports, physical labor, and healthy sexuality, but without the consciousness of anxiety or knowledge of history claimed by women. The plot of the novel described by Choiceas "a forgotten masterpiece", turns on the desire of one woman to teach her son about the past. Risking their lives, she tells the story of the rise of fascism and the subsequent world transformation as life-loving women took over from death-lovign men.


Swastika Night by Katharine Burdekin (1937)
Published in 1937, twelve years before Orwell's 1984, this novel projects a totally male-controlled fascist world that has eliminated women as we know them. They are breeders, kept as cattle, while men in this post-Hitlerian world are embittered automatons, fearful of all feelings, having abolished all history, education, creativity, books, and art. Not even the memory of culture remains. The plot centers on a "misfit" who asks, as readers must, "How could this have happenned?" 

A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess (1962)
A vicious fifteen-year-old "droog" is the central character of this 1963 classic, whose stark terror was captured in Stanley Kubrick's magnificent film of the same title. In Anthony Burgess's nightmare vision of the future, where criminals take over after dark, the story is told by the central character, Alex, who talks in a brutal invented slang that brilliantly renders his and his friends' social pathology. A Clockwork Orange is a frightening fable about good and evil, and the meaning of human freedom. When the state undertakes to reform Alex—to "redeem" him—the novel asks, "At what cost?"

Erewhon by Samuel Butler (1872)
In this novel, Butler satirically describes a utopian society, using the civilization of 'Erewhon' ('nowhere,' scrambled) to satirize beliefs popular in the England of his day.
Sequel: Erewhon Revisited (1901)

Ecotopia by Ernest Callenbach (1975)
Ecotopia was founded when northern California, Oregon, and Washington seceded from the Union to create a “stable-state” ecosystem: the perfect balance between human beings and the environment. Now, twenty years later, this isolated, mysterious nation is welcoming its first officially sanctioned American visitor: New York Times-Post reporter Will Weston. Skeptical yet curious about this green new world, Weston is determined to report his findings objectively. But from the start, he’s alternately impressed and unsettled by the laws governing Ecotopia’s earth-friendly agenda: energy-efficient “mini-cities” to eliminate urban sprawl, zero-tolerance pollution control, tree worship, ritual war games, and a woman-dominated government that has instituted such peaceful revolutions as the twenty-hour workweek and employee ownership of farms and businesses. His old beliefs challenged, his cynicism replaced by hope, Weston meets a sexually forthright Ecotopian woman and undertakes a relationship whose intensity will lead him to a critical choice between two worlds.

The City of the Sun by Tomasso Campanella (1623)
The City of the Sun is presented as a dialogue between "a Grandmaster of the Knights Hospitaller and a Genoese Sea-Captain". Inspired by Plato's Republic and the description of Atlantis Timaeus, it describes a theocratic society where goods, women and children are held in common. It also resembles the City of Adocentyn in the Picatrix, an Arabic grimoire of astrological magic. In the final part of the work, Campanella prophesies —in the veiled language of astrology— that the Spanish kings, in alliance with the Pope, are destined to be the instruments of a Divine Plan: the final victory of the True Faith and its diffusion in the whole world.

Obernewtyn series by Isobelle Carmody (1987-2012)
In a world struggling back from the brink of apocalypse, life is harsh. And for Elspeth Gordie, it is also dangerous. That's because Elspeth has a secret: she is a Misfit, born with mysterious mental abilities that she must keep hidden under threat of death. And her worries only multiply when she is exiled to the mountain compound known as Obernewtyn, where—for all her talents—Elspeth may finally and truly be out of her depth. Then she learns she’s not the only one concealing secrets at Obernewtyn.
Series: The Farseekers (1990), Ashling (1995), The Keeping Place (1999), Wavesong (2008), The Stone Key (2008), The Sending (2011), The Red Queen (2012)

The Blazing World by Margaret Cavendish (1666)
As its full title suggests, Blazing World is a fanciful depiction of a satirical, utopian kingdom in another world (with different stars in the sky) that can be reached via the North Pole. It is "the only known work of utopian fiction by a woman in the 17th century, as well as one of the earliest examples of what we now call 'science fiction' — although it is also a romance, an adventure story, and even autobiography." A young woman from our world enters this other world, becomes the empress of a society composed of various species of talking animals, and organizes an invasion back into our world complete with submarines towed by the "fish men" and the dropping of "fire stones" by the "bird men" to confound the enemies of her homeland (apparently England).


The Hunger Games and series by Suzanne Collins (2008-2010)
my review
In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by twelve outlying districts. The Capitol is harsh and cruel and keeps the districts in line by forcing them all to send one boy and one girl between the ages of twelve and eighteen to participate in the annual Hunger Games, a fight to the death on live TV. Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen, who lives alone with her mother and younger sister, regards it as a death sentence when she steps forward to take her sister's place in the Games. But Katniss has been close to dead before—and survival, for her, is second nature. Without really meaning to, she becomes a contender. But if she is to win, she will have to start making choices that will weigh survival against humanity and life against love.
Series: Catching Fire (2009), Mockingjay (2010)


Matched and series by Ally Condie (2010-2011)
Cassia has always trusted the Society to make the right choices for her: what to read, what to watch, what to believe. So when Xander's face appears on-screen at her Matching ceremony, Cassia knows with complete certainty that he is her ideal mate . . . until she sees Ky Markham's face flash for an instant before the screen fades to black. The Society tells her it's a glitch, a rare malfunction, and that she should focus on the happy life she's destined to lead with Xander. But Cassia can't stop thinking about Ky, and as they slowly fall in love, Cassia begins to doubt the Society's infallibility and is faced with an impossible choice: between Xander and Ky, between the only life she's known and a path that no one else has dared to follow.
Series: Crossed (2011)

Wither and series by Lauren DeStefano (2011-2012) 
my review
In the not-too-distant future, because of genetic engineering, every human is a ticking time bomb - males only live to age twenty-five, and females only live to age twenty. To keep the population from dying out, girls are kidnapped and sold into polygamous marriages. When sixteen-year-old Rhine is taken, she enters a world of wealth and privilege that both entices and terrifies her. She has everything she ever wanted - except freedom. With the help of Gabriel, a servant Rhine is growing dangerously attracted to, Rhine attempts to escape before it is too late.
Series: Fever (2012)


Little Brother by Cory Doctorow (2008)
Marcus, a.k.a “w1n5t0n,” is only seventeen years old, but he figures he already knows how the system works–and how to work the system. Smart, fast, and wise to the ways of the networked world, he has no trouble outwitting his high school’s intrusive but clumsy surveillance systems. But his whole world changes when he and his friends find themselves caught in the aftermath of a major terrorist attack on San Francisco. In the wrong place at the wrong time, Marcus and his crew are apprehended by the Department of Homeland Security and whisked away to a secret prison where they’re mercilessly interrogated for days. When the DHS finally releases them, Marcus discovers that his city has become a police state where every citizen is treated like a potential terrorist. He knows that no one will believe his story, which leaves him only one option: to take down the DHS himself.


Caesar's Column by Ignatius Donnelly (1890)
Published in 1890, Caesar's Column is an account of a trip to New York City in 1988 by a visitor from the Swiss colony of Uganda. The great metropolis dazzles with its futuristic technology, but its ostentatious wealth and luxury mask the brutal repression of the laboring classes by their rich bosses. The workers, aided by international terrorists, stage a violent revolt and the narrator flees the devastated city by airship to found an agrarian utopia in Africa. 

House of the Scorpion by Nancy Farmer (2002)
At his coming-of-age party, Matteo Alacrán asks El Patrón's bodyguard, "How old am I?...I know I don't have a birthday like humans, but I was born." "You were harvested," Tam Lin reminds him. "You were grown in that poor cow for nine months and then you were cut out of her." To most people around him, Matt is not a boy, but a beast. A room full of chicken litter with roaches for friends and old chicken bones for toys is considered good enough for him. But for El Patrón, lord of a country called Opium -- a strip of poppy fields lying between the U.S. and what was once called Mexico -- Matt is a guarantee of eternal life. El Patrón loves Matt as he loves himself for Matt is himself. They share identical DNA.


Clark Gifford's Body by Kenneth Fearing (1942)
Fearing's title echoes that great anthem of the dispossessed, John Brown's Body. But Clark Gifford is no John Brown. He is a disaffected politician in a nameless but thoroughly familiar media-driven modern state where representative politics has dwindled to the corrupt transaction of business as usual and a foreign war is always breaking out on the horizon. One night Gifford and some of his followers seize radio stations to broadcast a call for freedom. Nobody pays attention except the government. The troops quickly suppress the uprising and capture its leader-yet the rebellion will lead to twenty years of war. Fearing's novel skips freely through those years, interspersing newspaper clippings and court transcripts with the reactions and reminiscences of the politicians, generals, businessmen, journalists, waiters, and soldiers who double as the actors and the chorus in a drama over which, finally, they have no control. Who here is leading? Who is being led? Fearing creates a pseudo-documentary of a world given over to pseudo-politics and pseudo-events, and all the more deadly for that. In such a world, a world far closer to the one we live in now than that of Orwell's 1984, what counts is not the truth but the story that's on record. Because in the end, as Fearing says, "the story alone is the true thing." 

Herland by Charlotte Perkins Gilman (1915)
What I'm trying to show here is that with these women the whole relationship of life counted in a glad, eager growing-up to join the ranks of workers in the line best loved; a deep, tender reverence for one's own mother--too deep for them to speak of freely--and beyond that, the whole, free, wide range of sisterhood, the splendid service of the country, and friendships.
Prequel: Moving the Mountain (1911)
Sequel: With Her in Ourland (1916)

Lost Horizon by James Hilton (1933)
Two Englishmen, a woman missionary, and an American fleeing the consequences of shady financial deals are traveling companions.

Brave New World by Aldous Huxley (1932)
Huxley s vision of the future in his astonishing 1931 novel Brave New World -- a world of tomorrow in which capitalist civilization has been reconstituted through the most efficient scientific and psychological engineering, where the people are genetically designed to be passive, consistently useful to the ruling class.

Ape and Essence by Aldous Huxley (1948)
In this savage novel Huxley transports us to Los Angeles in the year 2108, where we learn to our dismay about the 22nd-century way of life.

Island by Aldous Huxley (1962)
For over a hundred years, the inhabitants of the Pacific island of Pala have been part of a social experiment whereby western science has been brought together with eastern philosophy and humanism to create a paradise on earth. In Island, Huxley gives us his vision of Utopia.


Possession by Elana Johnson (2011)
Vi knows the Rule: Girls don't walk with boys, and they never even thinkabout kissing them. But no one makes Vi want to break the Rules more than Zenn...and since the Thinkers have chosen him as Vi's future match, how much trouble can one kiss cause? The Thinkers may have brainwashed the rest of the population, but Vi is determined to think for herself. But the Thinkers are unusually persuasive, and they're set on convincing Vi to become one of them...starting by brainwashing Zenn. Vi can't leave Zenn in the Thinkers' hands, but she's wary of joining the rebellion, especially since that means teaming up with Jag. Jag is egotistical, charismatic, and dangerous--everything Zenn's not. Vi can't quite trust Jag and can't quite resist him, but she also can't give up on Zenn. This is a game of control or be controlled. And Vi has no choice but to play.

Mizora by Mary E. Bradley Lane (1881)
What would happen to our culture if men ceased to exist? Mary E. Bradley Lane explores this question in Mizora, the first known feminist utopian novel written by a woman. Vera Zarovitch is a Russian noblewoman—heroic, outspoken, and determined. A political exile in Siberia, she escapes and flees north, eventually finding herself, adrift and exhausted, on a strange sea at the North Pole. Crossing a barrier of mist and brilliant light, Zarovitch is swept into the enchanted, inner world of Mizora. A haven of music, peace, universal education, and beneficial, advanced technology, Mizora is a world of women.


The Dispossessed by Ursula K. Le Guin (1974)
Shevek, a brilliant physicist, decides to take action. He will seek answers, question the unquestionable, and attempt to tear down the walls of hatred that have isolated his planet of anarchists from the rest of the civilized universe. To do this dangerous task will mean giving up his family and possibly his life. Shevek must make the unprecedented journey to the utopian mother planet, Urras, to challenge the complex structures of life and living, and ignite the fires of change.

It Can't Happen Here by Sinclair Lewis (1936)
It is 1936. America has just elected Berzelius Windrip to the presidency-and his fascist policies turn the U.S. into a totalitarian state.


The Iron Heel by Jack London (1907)
In a harrowing tale of class warfare that merges science fiction and fantasy, the powerful state organization known as the "Iron Heel" is determined to crush the working class — at any cost. Praised by such luminaries as George Orwell, London's prophetic political adventure continues to resonate with today's readers.


Fearless by Tim Lott (2007)
my review
In the not-too-distant future, the world is safe from terrorists, the streets are clean, and girls labeled "juvies" or "mindcrips" have been hidden away behind the smartly painted exterior of the City Community Faith School. Their birth names are forgotten and replaced with a letter and number, but they give each other nicknames like Tattle or Stench or Little Fearless. As they slave away at chores, Little Fearless, who is actually the bravest girl in the school, tells the other girls stories, stories about the day their families will return for them. Little Fearless’s own hope and conviction spur her on a dangerous adventure — a bold and unthinkable plan that will either save the imprisoned girls or mean the end of Little Fearless herself, or both.

The Giver by Lois Lowry (1993)
Jonas's world is perfect. Everything is under control. There is no war or fear or pain. There are no choices. Every person is assigned a role in the Community. When Jonas turns twelve, he is singled out to receive special training from The Giver. The Giver alone holds the memories of the true pain and pleasure of life. Now, it is time for Jonas to receive the truth. There is no turning back.








Gathering Blue by Lois Lowry (2000)
In her strongest work to date, Lois Lowry once again creates a mysterious but plausible future world. It is a society ruled by savagery and deceit that shuns and discards the weak. Left orphaned and physically flawed, young Kira faces a frightening, uncertain future. Blessed with an almost magical talent that keeps her alive, she struggles with ever broadening responsibilities in her quest for truth, discovering things that will change her life forever.


Messenger by Lois Lowry (2004)
Newbery medalist Lois Lowry once again ushers readers into the hypnotic, disconcerting fantasy world she made familiar in her award-winning The Giver and its sequel, Gathering Blue, introducing us to young Matty, a boy whose role for Village is more profound than he thinks. Fraught with the same tension and subtle complexities of the previous novels, Lowry's third episode follows Matty -- who lives with Seer and doesn't yet have his true name -- as he keeps busy running errands through Forest and otherwise lives a youthful, carefree life. But Matty also has a power he can't explain, and when he understands that local attitudes are becoming intolerant and aggressive due to mysterious happenings at Trade Mart, the boy sets out to bring back Kira (Seer's daughter and the main character in Gathering Blue) before Village barricades itself entirely against outsiders. The novel crescendos as Matty and Kira make a heart-stopping, dangerous journey through Forest, and it packs a final punch when the hero summons his power and we learn his true name. 


The Year 3000 by Paolo Mantegazza (1897)
First published in 1897, The Year 3000 is the most daring and original work of fiction by the prominent Italian anthropologist Paolo Mantegazza. A futuristic utopian novel, the book follows two young lovers who, as they travel from Rome to the capital of the United Planetary States to celebrate their “mating union,” encounter the marvels of cultural and scientific advances along the way. Intriguing in itself, The Year 3000 is also remarkable for both its vision of the future (predicting an astonishing array of phenomena from airplanes, artificial intelligence, CAT scans, and credit cards to controversies surrounding divorce, abortion, and euthanasia) and the window it opens on fin de siècle Europe.


Daylight Runner by Oisin McGann (2008)
Sol Wheat is asking a lot of questions . . . especially after his father vanishes and is accused of murder. Outside the huge domed city, an Ice Age has transformed Earth into an Arctic desert. But inside, the Machine, protected by the Clockworkers a fearsome police organization has become the source of the city's energy and a way for industrial leaders to wield enormous power. When a rogue organization begins posting messages warning of the Machine's impending failure, civil unrest grows. As Sol begins to uncover the city's deepest secrets, the Clockworkers start targeting him. Now he's on the run in Ash Harbor's underground, where gangs rule and danger lurks in every corner. His life and the survival of Ash Harbor are both at risk.


Utopia by Thomas More (1516)
16th-century classic by English ecclesiastic and scholar envisioned a tolerant, patriarchal island kingdom free of private property, violence, bloodshed and vice. Forerunner of many later attempts.


News from Nowhere by William Morris (1890)
The novel describes the encounter between a visitor from the nineteenth century, William Guest, and a decentralized and humane socialist future. Set over a century after a revolutionary upheaval in 1952, these 'Chapters from a Utopian Romance' recount his journey across London and up the Thames to Kelmscott Manor, Morris's own country house in Oxfordshire. Drawing on the work of John Ruskin and Karl Marx, Morris's book is not only an evocative statement of his egalitarian convictions but also a distinctive contribution to the utopian tradition. Morris's rejection of state socialism and his ambition to transform the relationship between humankind and the natural world, give News from Nowhere a particular resonance for modern readers.


Bend Sinister by Vladimir Nabokov (1962)
The first novel Nabokov wrote while living in America and the most overtly political novel he ever wrote, Bend Sinister is a modern classic.  While it is filled with veiled puns and characteristically delightful wordplay, it is, first and foremost, a haunting and compelling narrative about a civilized man caught in the tyranny of a police state. It is first and foremost a compelling narrative about a civilized man and his child caught up in the tyranny of a police state.  Professor Adam Krug, the country's foremost philosopher, offers the only hope of resistance to Paduk, dictator and leader of the Party of the Average Man.  In a folly of bureaucratic bungling and ineptitude, the government attempts to co-opt Krug's support in order to validate the new regime.


Shade's Children by Garth Nix (1997)
In a brutal city of the future, the evil Overlords have decreed that no child may live a day past his 14th birthday. The children's only hope is the mysterious Shade--who recruits and houses the few children lucky enough to escape. 

Delirium and series by Lauren Oliver (2011-2012)
my review
Before scientists found the cure, people thought love was a good thing. They didn’t understand that once love -- the deliria -- blooms in your blood, there is no escaping its hold. Things are different now. Scientists are able to eradicate love, and the government demands that all citizens receive the cure upon turning eighteen. Lena Haloway has always looked forward to the day when she’ll be cured. A life without love is a life without pain: safe, measured, predictable, and happy. But with ninety-five days left until her treatment, Lena does the unthinkable: She falls in love.
Series: Pandemonium (2012)



1984 by George Orwell (1948)
Portrays a terrifying vision of life in the future when a totalitarian government, considered a "Negative Utopia," watches over all citizens and directs all activities, becoming more powerful as time goes by.

Starters by Lissa Price (2012)
my review 
Callie lost her parents when the Spore Wars wiped out everyone between the ages of twenty and sixty. She and her little brother, Tyler, go on the run, living as squatters with their friend Michael and fighting off renegades who would kill them for a cookie. Callie's only hope is Prime Destinations, a disturbing place in Beverly Hills run by a mysterious figure known as the Old Man. He hires teens to rent their bodies to Enders—seniors who want to be young again. Callie, desperate for the money that will keep her, Tyler, and Michael alive, agrees to be a donor. But the neurochip they place in Callie's head malfunctions and she wakes up in the life of her renter, living in her mansion, driving her cars, and going out with a senator's grandson. It feels almost like a fairy tale, until Callie discovers that her renter intends to do more than party—and that Prime Destinations' plans are more evil than Callie could ever have imagined. . . .


Anthem by Ayn Rand (1937)
Ayn Rand's classic tale of a future dark age of the great “We”—a world that deprives individuals of name, independence, and values—anticipates her later masterpieces, The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged.


Across the Universe by Beth Revis (2011)
my review
Seventeen-year-old Amy joins her parents as frozen cargo aboard the vast spaceship Godspeed and expects to awaken on a new planet, three hundred years in the future. Never could she have known that her frozen slumber would come to an end fifty years too soon and that she would be thrust into the brave new world of a spaceship that lives by its own rules. Amy quickly realizes that her awakening was no mere computer malfunction. Someone-one of the few thousand inhabitants of the spaceship-tried to kill her. And if Amy doesn't do something soon, her parents will be next. Now Amy must race to unlock Godspeed's hidden secrets. But out of her list of murder suspects, there's only one who matters: Elder, the future leader of the ship and the love she could never have seen coming.


A Description of Millenium Hall by Sarah Scott (1762)
In 1750 at the age of twenty-seven Sarah Scott published her first novel, a conventional romance. A year later she left her husband after only a few months of marriage and devoted herself thereafter to writing and to promoting female communities. This revolutionary concept was given flesh in Millenium Hall, first published in 1762 and generally thought to be the finest of her six novels. The text may seem as the manifesto of the 'bluestocking' movement--the protean feminism that arose under eighteenth-century gentry capitalism (originating in 1750, largely under the impetus of Scott's sister Elizabeth Montagu), and that rejected a world with early feminists saw symbolized in the black silk stockings demanded by formal society. It is a comment on Western society as well as on the strengths of Scott's novel that the message of Millenium Hall continues to resonate strongly more than two centuries later.


Walden Two by B.F. Skinner (1948)
This fictional outline of a modern utopia has been a center of controversy since its publication in 1948. Set in the United States, it pictures a society in which human problems are solved by a scientific technology of human conduct.


Memento Nora and series by Angie Smibert (2011-2012)
my review
A teen struggles to hold onto her memories-and her identity-in a world that wants everyone to forget-and keep on shopping. Three dynamic teens come together to create a comic book of their memories. 
Series: The Forgetting Curve (2012)


The Great Romance by The Inhabitant (1881)
The Great Romance, a two-volume novella published under the pseudonym “The Inhabitant,” was one of the outstanding late nineteenth-century works of utopian science fiction. Volume 1 was a possible model for Edward Bellamy’s phenomenally successful Looking Backward, while volume 2 was assumed lost for over a century until uncovered in the Hocken Library in Dunedin, New Zealand. Together these volumes represent a remarkable piece of science fiction writing as they proffer one of the first serious considerations of the colonization of other planets and the impact of human beings on an alien culture. Here, for the first time, readers encounter descriptions of spacesuits and airlocks, space shuttles and planetary rovers, interplanetary colonization and cross-species miscegenation. Behind these genre-defining elements is the story of John Hope, who, by means of a sleeping elixir, awakes to a utopian community in a distant future—a “kingdom of thought” where the struggle for existence has been eliminated and humanity operates under an unwritten law of civility and harmony, aided by telekinesis that inerrantly reveals all wrong-doers. Since only two of the probably three volumes are extant, the tale ends with a chilling cliffhanger.


The Slynx by Tatyana Tolstaya (2000)
Two hundred years after the "Blast," Moscow has become a primitive and brutal post–nuclear holocaust society, inhabited by citizens with conspicuous physical "Consequences": rooster's crests, missing limbs, claws where feet or hands should be. In this world of everyday horrors, the ultimate terror is the legendary, nightmarish Slynx, an invisible monster rumored to live in the forest who hunts humans for its own inexplicable purposes. Enter Benedikt, a typically impoverished working-class bachelor with a healthy fear of books. Healthy, you may ask? Well, in this futuristic society, possessors of such items are promptly whisked away for "treatment" by the dreaded Saniturions, never to be seen again. Benedikt also resists any "Freethinking," another practice that's strictly verboten. Instead, he behaves as he is told, working as a scribe, copying the prose of classical writers, and attributing authorship of each book, play, or poem to the resident tyrant, Fyodor Kuzmich (Glorybe). In search of companionship, Benedikt decides against befriending the eagerly intelligent but physically repellent Varvara Lukinishna in favor of pursuing the affections of the more beautiful Olenka. But as he vies for Olenka's attentions and the approbation of her repugnant but powerful family, he accepts, by degrees, greater moral and ethical compromises. Now securely behind the gated walls of his father-in-law's mansion, Benedikt is living a life of luxury formerly unimaginable, and he should feel safe from the ghastly Slynx.unless, of course, the Slynx comes not from the forest but from somewhere closer to home. 


Player Piano by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. (1952)
Vonnegut's first novel spins the chilling tale of engineer Paul Proteus, who must find a way to live in a world dominated by a super computer and run completely by machines. His rebellion is a wildly funny, darkly satirical look at modern society.


The First Men in the Moon by H.G. Wells (1901)
When penniless businessman Mr. Bedford retreats to the Kent coast to write a play, he meets by chance the brilliant Dr. Cavor, an absentminded scientist on the brink of developing a material that blocks gravity. Cavor soon succeeds in his experiments, only to tell a stunned Bedford that the invention makes possible one of the oldest dreams of humanity: a journey to the moon. With Bedford motivated by money, and Cavor by the desire for knowledge, the two embark on the expedition. But neither are prepared for what they find—a world of freezing nights, boiling days, and sinister alien life, in which they may be trapped forever.


A Modern Utopia by H.G. Wells (1905)
In A Modern Utopia, two travelers fall into a space-warp and suddenly find themselves upon a Utopian Earth controlled by a single World Government.


In the Days of the Comet by H.G. Wells (1906)
"A comet rushes toward the earth, a deadly, glowing orb that soon fills the sky and promises doom. But mankind is too busy hating, stealing, scheming, and killing to care. As luminous green trails of cosmic dust and vapor stream across the heavens, blood flows beneath: nations wage all-out war, bitter strikes erupt, and jealous lovers plot revenge and murder. The earth slips past the comet by the narrowest of margins, but all succumb to the gases in its tail. When mankind wakes up, everyone is completely and profoundly different." In the Days of the Comet is H. G. Wells's classic tale of the last days of the old earth and the extraterrestial Change that becomes the salvation of the human race. An ill-fated romance between Willie Leadford and Nettie Stuart unfolds in a world buried in misery and bent on its own destruction. After the earth passes through the comet's tail, suffering, pettiness, and injustice melt away. Willie, Nettie, and everyone around them are reborn. They now see themselves and their world in a dramatically new and wonderful way.


The Sleeper Awakes by H.G. Wells (1910)
Graham, an 1890s radical pamphleteer who is eagerly awaiting the twentieth century and all the advances it will bring, is stricken with insomnia. Finally resorting to medication, he instantly falls into a deep sleep that lasts two hundred years. Upon waking in the twenty-second century to a strange and nightmarish place, he slowly discovers he is master of the world, revered by an adoring populace who consider him their leader. Terrified, he escapes from his chamber seeking solace—only to realize that not everyone adores him, some even wish to harm him.

Uglies and series by Scott Westerfeld (2005-2007)
Tally is about to turn sixteen, and she can't wait. Not for her license -- for turning pretty. In Tally's world, your sixteenth birthday brings an operation that turns you from a repellent ugly into a stunningly attractive pretty and catapults you into a high-tech paradise where your only job is to have a really great time. In just a few weeks Tally will be there. But Tally's new friend Shay isn't sure she wants to be pretty. She'd rather risk life on the outside. When Shay runs away, Tally learns about a whole new side of the pretty world -- and it isn't very pretty. The authorities offer Tally the worst choice she can imagine: find her friend and turn her in, or never turn pretty at all. The choice Tally makes changes her world forever.
Series: Pretties (2005), Specials (2006), Extras (2008)


Islandia by Austin Tappan Wright (1942)
On his death, Austin Tappan Wright left the world a wholly unsuspected legacy. Among this distinguished legal scholar's papers were thousands of pages devoted to a staggering feat of literary creation - a detailed history of an imagined country complete with geography, genealogy, representations from its literature, language and culture. In a monumental labor of love Wright's wife and daughter culled from this material a thousand page novel, as detailed as J.R.R. Tolkien's Middle-earth. Islandia has similarly become a classic touchstone for those concerned with the creation of imaginary worlds. Islandia occupies the southern portion of the Karain Continent, which lies in the Southern Hemisphere. Its civilization is an ancient one, protected from outside intervention by a natural fortress of towering mountains. To this isolated country - this alien, compelling and totally fascinating world - comes John Lang, the American consul. As the reader lives with Lang in Islandia, as he comes to know this magnetic land, its unique people, its strange customs, he may find himself experiencing a feeling of envy, a wish that he, like Lang, be permitted, at the book's end, to return once more and spend the rest of his days in Islandia.


Blood Red Road by Moira Young (2011)
my review
Saba has spent her whole life in Silverlake, a dried-up wasteland ravaged by constant sandstorms. The Wrecker civilization has long been destroyed, leaving only landfills for Saba and her family to scavenge from. That's fine by her, as long as her beloved twin brother Lugh is around. But when a monster sandstorm arrives, along with four cloaked horsemen, Saba's world is shattered. Lugh is captured, and Saba embarks on an epic quest to get him back. Suddenly thrown into the lawless, ugly reality of the world outside of desolate Silverlake, Saba is lost without Lugh to guide her. So perhaps the most surprising thing of all is what Saba learns about herself: she's a fierce fighter, an unbeatable survivor, and a cunning opponent. And she has the power to take down a corrupt society from the inside. Teamed up with a handsome daredevil named Jack and a gang of girl revolutionaries called the Free Hawks, Saba stages a showdown that will change the course of her own civilization.


We by Yevgeny Zamyatin (1921)
In the One State of the great Benefactor, there are no individuals, only numbers. Life is an ongoing process of mathematical precision, a perfectly balanced equation. Primitive passions and instincts have been subdued. Even nature has been defeated, banished behind the Green Wall. But one frontier remains: outer space. Now, with the creation of the spaceship Integral, that frontier -- and whatever alien species are to be found there -- will be subjugated to the beneficent yoke of reason. One number, D-503, chief architect of the Integral, decides to record his thoughts in the final days before the launch for the benefit of less advanced societies. But a chance meeting with the beautiful 1-330 results in an unexpected discovery that threatens everything D-503 believes about himself and the One State. The discovery -- or rediscovery -- of inner space...and that disease the ancients called the soul. 

1 comment:

  1. great post! i like lists and this is a good one for these genres.

    ReplyDelete