Monday, May 16, 2011

Get Your Dystopian Fix

I've been having nightmares for years. Going to sleep is not something that I look forward to like I used to when I was dreaming of hugging dolphins and meeting the Dalai Lama. A large part of this is probably due to the fact that I have been focusing on dystopian fiction for some time now, definitely since I read Cormac McCarthy's The Road.

The Road really spoke to me ... and the storyline, characters, and prose has continued to reverberate in my soul. And while I do recommend it and the following books: I also include a caveat that lets the reader know, in no uncertain terms, that the material included in these fictions may well be fodder for nightmares of your own.

(Good) dystopian fiction that I recommend off the top of my head (meaning that this is not an exhaustive list):

I am Legend by Richard Matheson ... A classic. Really quite different and, in my opinion, better than the movie. This should be included in your Dystopia 101 course materials.

The Road by Cormac McCarthy ... No doubt this is well on its way to becoming a classic. Fans of the genre: if you haven't read this then you need to now! Kudos to C.M.

(pictured at beginning of blogpost)

Soft Apocalypse by Will McIntosh ... Great title. This book has a contemporary feel to it with characters that you might find traveling with you on your bus route (or in your carpool lane on your commute to work) ... Will McIntosh stretches what is ailing us nowadays, pumps it up a bit, and brings on the dark side of humanity. I am not alone as a fan of this book.

Angels are the Reapers by Alden Bell ... Current staff pick of mine, and recently a nominee for the 2010 Philip K. Dick award. I love Temple, the main character, not only is she a kick-a-- heroine, but she is deeply troubled by what it means to be human.

Enclave by Ann Aguirre ... Highlighted favorably in my last blog.

Drylands by Mary Rosenblum ... Brought in parapsychology before it was all the rage, as in the plethora of paranormal romance that now graces the shelves of scifi/fantasy, and did it well.

And finally, Burn Down the Sky by James Jaros (coming out sometime in the near future and I was unable to find any good cover art for you to look at.) This is twisted like Ms. Atwood's Handmaid Tales, with an even more perverse twang that not everyone will want to grapple with, hence this book comes with an 'R' for restricted (yes, I know this is a movie rating.) I don't want to upset folks with the material, but it was still well-written.

--Jan, aka Nightmare Girl


  1. Jan, you should read The Possibility of an Island by Michel Houellebecq. It's a staff fave, and it is a really unique dystopian book. It takes place both in the present and the future, and the three main characters are all clones of the same man. I like that it's way more philosophy than sci-fi. It's a completely original perspective, and you'll have a strong reaction, whether it's positive or negative. Give it a try!

  2. This is so appropriately timed, particularly considering that Saturday is supposed to be the end of the world or judgment day or something. I suggest Neil Gaiman & Terry Prachett's "Good Omens" and John Connolly's "The Gates" (Both are wonderfully hilarious apocalypse stories.)

  3. Anonymous3:41 PM

    im 14 any i just read the original I am Legend and I am amazed by how well thought over the bacilli virus premise is and i think i might read the rest of this list as well.


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