The future of mankind has been a hotly contested topic ever since humans learned the concept of time, and there will never be a shortage of ideas on the directions our civilization could end up taking, especially as our societies become increasingly complex, our mores and values more convoluted.
For some reason, people seem to be generally drawn towards the tragic, and over time we seem to have developed a collective interest in depictions of our future which take us to dark and even nightmarish worlds.
The dystopian literary genre is, in a lot of cases, more than a simple a cautionary tale of what might await us if we don’t repent our sins and start helping our neighbours. Many authors use it in order to explore, expose and criticize some of our very own political, social and religious structures.
On this page you will find the various dystopian science-fiction books which I believe take it a step further beyond simply depicting a poor and oppressed society in a nightmarishly-totalitarian world. These are the novels which try and force you to stop, take a break, and really think about the current state of affairs, and where our social structures might end up leading us.
Only a hundred years ago, computers would have sounded like something originating from the dreams of a complete madman. Nevertheless, today they are an essential tool for modern society, allowing countless services and processes to function with immeasurably more efficiency than ever before.
As many have observed, the place computers are taking up in our lives is becoming alarming, especially since we’ve managed to reduce them into palm-sized devices, allowing them to be used anytime and anywhere. Considering this, I don’t think anyone should be surprised the Cyberpunk genre is seeing a tremendous surge in popularity.
There are plenty of evolutionary directions our infatuation with computers could take us, and Cyberpunk explores the darker side of the equation, generally depicting oppressive societies and lawless landscapes heavily anchored in an obsession with computer technology.
In this category you’ll find the Cyberpunk novels which I believe stand out from their numerous peers and try to communicate new and original ideas to the reader. These are the novels which I believe hold some truth worth thinking about in regards to our collective future.
Matthew FitzSimmons has broken through on the literary scene with the Gibson Vaughn series not long ago, and has recently begun a new one, with the first entry simply titled Constance. It follows the story of a woman’s clone who tries to unravel the mystery behind her lost memories while also investigating the murder of her original self. In her search for the truth though, she becomes marked for death all over again.
Eric Barnes put his name in the hat reserved for those concerned about climate change in 2019 when he published The City Where We Once Lived. The novel follows a narrator in an unnamed city split in two by the desolation of climate change: the dying North End, and the still surviving South End. Part of the few thousand living their lives out in the North, a disruption arrives threatening what little they have in a sea of nothing.
Christina Dalcher certainly isn’t content with tackling small and meaningless topics, with her second novel Master Class examining potential extreme our society might yet reach one day. The story takes place in a society where the worth of individuals is determined by their quotient score (Q), and follows a mother’s efforts to save her daughter who gets transferred to a state boarding school hundreds of miles away after failing a monthly test.
Max Barry has been a distinct voice in the realm of science-fiction ever since he published his first novel over twenty years ago, and he certainly is intent on spreading it further, as he does with his latest novel, Providence.
The premise is quite simple: four people are tasked with manning, but mostly monitoring a space warship sent to wage war against an alien threat to humanity. However, as they travel further into space, the communications are cut off, and the ship becomes less an less reliable, leaving them stranded in the great cosmic void, headed for war all by themselves.
Megan Angelo just began her literary career with the publication of Followers, and has already gone a long way towards cementing herself as a quality author. The novel tells two stories, the first one following two friends and dark, questionable decisions they make for the sake of internet fame. The second one takes us thirty-five years into the future…
John Lanchester is a man closely engaged in following the modern sociopolitical landscape, and in The Wall he attempts to imagine what it would be like if taken to its absolute extreme. The story begins by presenting us with an island nation, England, which built a giant wall around itself as a means of protection against a dying world. Enter John Kavanagh, a new Defender of the wall, tasked with keeping the desperate souls outside from getting in, under penance of death if he were to fail.
William R. Forstchen has a rather special knack for imagining our world in the throes of apocalypse, and in 48 Hours he returns us into a world plunged into obscurity. In two days the Earth is bound to be hit by a Coronal Mass Ejection from the sun, a cataclysmic event with the power to permanently destroy the planet’s electrical infrastructure. As the entire world goes offline in an attempt to mitigate the damage, the entire world’s population is preparing to face its darkest hour, teetering on the line between survival and total collapse.
Ada Palmer has created a veritably complex and engaging utopia in her Terra Ignota series, a society with its own set of rules and morals where virtually no one longs for anything. Cracks have however begun appearing in this seemingly flawless civilization, and in the third book of the series, The Will to Battle, it all comes crashing down into fire and brimstone. With the carefully-maintained balance now lying in ruins, all sides must prepare for a bloody war to engender a new age of conflict.
Ada Palmer has constructed a rather unique and singular Utopia in her book series Terra Ignota, one where the needs of all are tended and none can actually remember a war ever occurring. A convict by the name of Mycroft Canner sentenced to wander the planet to serve all he meets has stumbled upon a profound conspiracy, one that maintains the careful balance of peace and prosperity in the world through some very careful and selective assassinations. The balance is about to give way, and the realm starts to teeter on the brink of dystopia.
Emerging authors rise up every day in the great world of books, and Ada Palmer has done so recently when she published the first chapter in the Terra Ignota series titled Too Like the Lightning. Winner of the 2017 John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer, the book transports us into the 25th century where we make the acquaintance of Mycroft Canner, a convict sentenced to wandering the world to make himself as useful as possible, and Carlyle Foster, a spiritual counsellor in a world where religion isn’t for public practice anymore. Their technological utopia, may soon be destabilized by the discovery of a boy who can seemingly make his wishes come true, and inanimate objects to life.
Jeff VanderMeer is widely recognized as one of the more imaginative authors, nearly always presenting us with some new and original depictions of our own world, alternate timelines we wouldn’t dream of reaching in a million years. In his novel Borne the author takes us to such a place yet again as we follow the story of Rachel, a scavenger who one day finds a small green lump in the ruins of a building, and it turns out to be some creature. Though at first it looks like discarded waste by the ominously-named Company, there is more to the little green blob than appears at first sight.
Pierce Brown has turned the heads of science-fiction fans all around the world with his Red Rising trilogy, following Darrow, a man of the lowest caste who spent his entire life making the surface of Mars livable for future generations. One day, he discovers they were all lied to and the elite have been keeping them in the dark underground for generations. Join him as he races across three interconnected stories in hopes of infiltrating the ranks of that nefarious elite and bring to life the great revolution that will free his people from the shackles they’ve worn for too many years and help them see the light.