Friday Freak Out: Dystopian reading for a nervous new year

Somehow I think 2017 is going to be a bit more of a Friday Feak Out year than a Friday Fun year...

And in that spirit, some freak out fiction for your reading list this year. It'll be a great year for novels highlighted how truly awful the world could get if we let it.

For your 2017 reading please, a year of dystopian reading. A dozen suggestions (with a few bonus suggestions) for dystopian reading in the new year, one per month to keep us all grounded in an unforgiving world, but not so much that we'll lose hope. One per month should leave plenty of time for reading comedy!

Of course, in compiling the list below I took advantage of some other who were also thinking along the same dystopian lines...

I've read most of these, mostly quite a while ago. A few others have been widely recommended in the lists I cite above so I'm considering them part of my new year's reading list. I also tried to come up with a few that haven't been widely recommended on other lists. I'm currently re-reading 1984 and may over the course of the year reread one or two others which I haven't read in decades, like The Handmaid's Tale. I've also included a couple of perhaps less strictly dystopian politically-themed novels that seem appropriate for variety's sake.

Enjoy! Freak out!

  1. 1984 by George Orwell (Bonus: Animal Farm)
  2. Bug Jack Barron by Norman Spinrad
  3. A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess
  4. The Dispossessed by Ursula K. Le Guin
  5. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
  6. The Gate to Women's Country by Sheri S. Tepper
  7. The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood (Bonus: The MaddAddam Trilogy)
  8. The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins
  9. Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler (Bonus: Parable of the Talents)
  10. The Space Merchants by Frederik Pohl and C. M. Kornbluth
  11. Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel
  12. V is for Vendetta by Alan Moore

Bonus political novel: The Manchurian Candidate by Richard Condon.

What are some dystopian or political novels you would suggest? Or maybe even some comedy for balance?

More like this

How about Henlein's classic, The Moon is a Harsh Mistress.

By Tamara Griesel (not verified) on 06 Jan 2017 #permalink

Apologies. Heinlein. I forgot to sacrifice a homophone to the typo gods today.

By Tamara Griesel (not verified) on 06 Jan 2017 #permalink

Of the listed novels, I have read 1984 (as well as Animal Farm), Fahrenheit 451, and The Handmaid's Tale. I have seen movie versions of A Clockwork Orange and The Manchurian Candidate (in the latter case, the one featuring Frank Sinatra and Angela Lansbury), but not read the corresponding books.

I would put Catch-22 by Joseph Heller on my list of dystopian books. (I have both read the book and seen the movie.) The bureaucracy of the Army, the ever-increasing number of missions the pilots are expected to fly, and Milo Minderbinder's profiteering, topped by the scene near the end where police ignore a murder to arrest the AWOL protagonist, mark that as a dystopia.

@Tamara: Having read The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress, I disagree with including it. It is one of Heinlein's better novels, but it's hardly a dystopia. On the contrary, a ragtag group gets together, starts a revolution, and actually succeeds against the odds. A better choice would be the novel Heinlein couldn't bring himself to write: the novel in the "Future History" series that would have covered Nehemiah Scudder's rise to power.

By Eric Lund (not verified) on 06 Jan 2017 #permalink

For a thought-provoking, non-formulaic novel set in post-collapse America, with SETI, I highly recommend John Michael Greer's recently published Star's Reach.

Also, there is always John Wyndham's Re-Birth, Day of the Triffids and Out of the Deeps, all a lot of fun if you can find them.

"Silo" trilogy by Hugh Howey. Wool, Shift and Dust.

"The girl with all the gifts" by M.R. Carey. I haven't seen the film but I really enjoyed the book.