Thursday, April 21, 2011


Maybe worse than the end of the world is the slow and gradual development of a repressive state. In fiction, these states are known as Dystopias. I mean, at least with an apocalyptic event, life usually becomes even more nasty, brutish, and short. Dystopias, however, are more sinister in their methods, painting a shiny veneer on to the nastiness. I'm currently reading Brave New Worlds: Dystopian Stories by JJ Adams (ed) and it's put me in a dystopian state of mind.

Dystopias are enormously popular in fiction. Dystopias are particularly popular during times of upheaval or unhappiness, particularly when people view the government as getting out of control and becoming more oppressive, or when they see government becoming more “religious.” Dystopian fiction paints a picture of what could be if all the wrong things happen at all the right times. The most important part of creating successful dystopian fiction is to root it in some reality. After all, if there’s no truth to the story, it will not create the appropriate response in the reader.

Perhaps the most well-known dystopia of the 20th century (in English, that is) is Fahrenheit 451, or perhaps Brave New World. Or 1984. It’s hard to pin down the definitive work of dystopian fiction, since dystopias can take any shape or form. But here's a list of my favorites, irrespective of their literary qualities, and in no particular order:

My Ten Favorite Dystopian Books

1)      Fahrenheit 451—Ray Bradbury
2)      V for Vendetta—Alan Moore
3)      Oryx and Crake—Margaret Atwood
4)      The Handmaid’s Tale—Margaret Atwood
5)      The Hunger Games—Suzanne Collins
6)      Never Let Me Go—Kazuo Ishiguro
7)      Parable of the Sower—Octavia Butler
8)      Uglies—Scott Westerfeld
9)      Brave New Worlds: Dystopian Stories—John Joseph Adams, ed
10)   The Giver—Lois Lowry

Honorable Mentions:
1)      The City of Ember—Jeanne Duprau
2)      The Big Empty—JB Stephens
3)      The Other Side of the Island—Allegra Goodman
4)      The Maze Runner—Jim Dashner

And because it's not just books:

My Favorite Dystopian Movies or TV Shows:
1)      Children of Men
2)      Gattaca
3)      Equilibrium (based off Fahrenheit 451)
4)      Minority Report
5)      Johnny Mnemonic (for sentimental reasons!)
6)      V for Vendetta
7)      The Island
8)      Death Race
9)      Firefly


  1. If this is true then just call me Hercules!

  2. it's from 1984, hercules. the complete quote: