Friday, November 25, 2011

Dystopian Novels Reading List, Part 1

Have I ever explained the title of this blog?  I hope it is pretty obvious... the sentiment that there are too many good books, and not enough time to read them.  Following busy readers in GoodReads and bunches of reading blogs is like sitting at a restaurant and being convinced that everyone else picked better menu items than you did.  I suffer from constant reading envy.

Another thing that really feeds my reading envy?  Lists!  I love lists.  At the back of the Brave New Worlds volume of dystopian short stories, editor John Joseph Adams included a chapter "For Further Reading," compiled by Ross E. Lockhart.  Such a great idea, and on the website you can even access the lists as a PDF or as buying lists in  The list is incredibly long, so first I will post the books I've already read, and my next post will detail the books I haven't read yet!
Lockhart indicates the books with "high literary value" with an asterisk, so I'll just leave his judgment as is.   See after the list for books that didn't make the list, but should have.

Notable Dystopias, already read: 

Atwood, Margaret
The Handmaid’s Tale *
Oryx and Crake
The Year of the Flood

Bacigalupi, Paolo
The Windup Girl *
Ship Breaker

Bradbury, Ray
Fahrenheit 451 *

Burgess, Anthony
A Clockwork Orange

Butler, Octavia
Parable of the Sower *  

Collins, Suzanne
The Hunger Games (et.seq.) 

Crace, Jim
The Pesthouse

Doctorow, Cory
Little Brother 

Gibson, William
Mona Lisa Overdrive
Neuromancer * (really this should say Neuromancer et. seq.)

Huxley, Aldous
Brave New World * 

Ishiguro, Kazuo
Never Let Me Go 

Lem, Stansiław
Memoirs Found in a Bathtub   

McCarthy, Cormac
The Road * 

Mitchell, David
Cloud Atlas (“Sonmis Oratio”)  

Orwell, George
Nineteen Eighty-Four * 

Stephenson, Neal
Snow Crash 

Stewart, George R.
Earth Abides 

Westerfield, Scott
Uglies (et.seq.) 

Some of these I'd classify as post-apocalyptic (and indeed, the Wastelands anthology contains a similar list, which I've been working through ever since!), but I think some books are easily both.  In fact, it is pretty hard to have a post-apocalyptic world that isn't dystopian.   

I would heartily endorse the reading of any book on this list.  The Lem is a bit difficult because it is pretty ridiculous, and I wouldn't say the overarching theme of Cloud Atlas is dystopian (but it is still a brilliant book).  My favorites probably include the Atwood, the Butler, and Orwell, as far as in their handling of dystopian worlds and themes.
I'd also add a few more books to the list, definitely worth a mention:

Noise by Darin Bradley
Stand on Zanzibar by John Brunner (they left this off the Brunner list, but I'd put it back on!) 
The Book by M. Clifford
Ready Player One by Ernst Cline (this post-dates the anthology)
The Possibility of an Island by Michel Houellebecq 
Super Sad True Love Story by Gary Shteyngart
Julian Comstock by Robert Charles Wilson (hey, it made io9's American Dystopia Top Ten list)

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