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May 22, 2014 2:42 PM   Subscribe

I am looking for recommendations of great dystopian novels, novellas, and short stories. Any length will do!

I am already aware of these very popular/"classic" dystopian novels, novellas, and short stories: 1984, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, Brave New World, The Handmaid's Tale, A Clockwork Orange, The Hunger Games, The Road, The Chrysalids, The Giver, and The Running Man. Please recommend dystopian stories besides the ones already mentioned. Thanks in advance!
posted by SkylitDrawl to Writing & Language (39 answers total) 70 users marked this as a favorite
 
"Harrison Bergeron," a short story by Kurt Vonnegut Jr.
posted by SisterHavana at 2:46 PM on May 22 [1 favorite]


If you haven't read We by Yevgeny Zamyatin, you absolutely should. It predates 1984 and is really excellent.
posted by darchildre at 2:46 PM on May 22 [8 favorites]


Wool is a good, relatively new one I learned about right here on MeFi.
posted by telegraph at 2:48 PM on May 22 [5 favorites]


Alas, Babylon is a classic.
I Am Legend
Children of Men
posted by amodelcitizen at 2:52 PM on May 22


Seconding Wool and Shift and I'm guessing book 3, Dust is equally good, though I haven't read it.

If you haven't read Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler, that's a great one.

Canticle for Liebowitz by Walter Miller

Lucifers Hammer by jerry pournelle and Larry Niven.
posted by ThaBombShelterSmith at 2:52 PM on May 22


Yes both to Wool and The Parable of the Sower.

Also The Wind Up Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi
Riddley Walker by Russell Hoban
posted by ephemerista at 2:57 PM on May 22


Roadside Picnic
The Inverted World
The Stand
Cloud Atlas
posted by Lemmy Caution at 3:01 PM on May 22 [1 favorite]


Lanark by Alasdair Gray. "a modern vision of hell set in the disintegrating cities of Unthank and Glasgow, and tells the interwoven stories of Lanark and Duncan Thaw.. Comparisons have been made to Dante, Blake, Joyce, Orwell, Kafka, Huxley and Lewis Carroll."

One of my personal favourites.
posted by kariebookish at 3:07 PM on May 22 [1 favorite]


Rupert Thomson's Divided Kingdom, in which the population of the UK is divided into the four temperaments.
posted by gnomeloaf at 3:10 PM on May 22 [1 favorite]


Shovel Ready, the MaddAddam trilogy by Margaret Atwood, maybe Trisha Leigh's "The Last Year" young adult series fits in too. Also in case you might not have realized, Lois Lowry wrote 3 companions to The Giver: Gathering Blue, Messenger, and Son.
posted by karbonokapi at 3:12 PM on May 22


Swan Song by Robert McCammon
posted by fourpotatoes at 3:14 PM on May 22


Hard to find, but I suggest Malevil, by Robert Merle. For me, it's one of those books I keep coming back to again and again. I've read it 6-8 times over the past couple of decades.

(As an aside, I strongly suspect that the character Hodor, in Game of Thrones, is named such as a literary compliment to Merle. Stories are nothing alike, but the man-child with a speech impediment character, well, resonates.)
posted by CincyBlues at 3:14 PM on May 22 [1 favorite]


Wittengenstein's Mistress
posted by amodelcitizen at 3:15 PM on May 22 [2 favorites]


The Tripods series by John Christopher, and Scott Westerfeld's "Pretties/Uglies/Specials" series.

The Female Man gives you not one, not two - but FOUR dystopias in one novel!

I loved the first Logan's Run novel. Unlike the movie, everyone is put to death when they hit 18 - not 30. Very fast reading. The remaining two are not as good.

The Postman by David Brin. Threw it against the wall around the last chapter or so, but otherwise, had some great stuff it in.

Oryx and Crake, Warday, Woman on the Edge of Time have always sounded intriguing to me. Haven't read them - or Sheri Tepper's Gate to Woman's Country.
posted by mitschlag at 3:16 PM on May 22


Never Let Me Go is a favorite of mine.
posted by umwhat at 3:22 PM on May 22 [5 favorites]


Metropole by Ferenc Karinthy
posted by perhapses at 3:32 PM on May 22


Don't Eat Cat by Jess Walters
The Windup Girl and Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi
posted by brookeb at 3:35 PM on May 22


Oryx and Crake (plus the other 2 books in the trilogy) for sure. Atwood's Positron stories are great too.

The Gone-Away World (Nick Harkaway) is one of my favorites.

Seconding Riddley Walker, and would recommend The Book of Dave by Will Self as a follow up for those who enjoyed Riddley Walker (even if you don't usually enjoy Will Self).

Also seconding Wittgenstein's Mistress, We, and the Wool series.

Not quite dystopian, but Victor Lavalle's The Devil in Silver is great and explores a lot of similar themes.

Neal Stephenson would be a good author to check out too - try Snow Crash to start.
posted by snaw at 3:36 PM on May 22 [1 favorite]


You probably know about The Lottery, but I figured it's worth mentioning because I didn't see it on your list or in any of the answers.
posted by never.was.and.never.will.be. at 3:47 PM on May 22


Check out the work of Steve Erickson.
posted by scody at 3:57 PM on May 22


Stephen King's novella The Long Walk.
posted by tacoma1 at 3:58 PM on May 22 [2 favorites]


"The Demolished Man" and "The Stars My Destination", both by Alfred Bester.

He wrote a third called "The Computer Connection" which is very dystopian but also very strange. I like it but it turned off a lot of people.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 4:40 PM on May 22


The Long Tomorrow - Leigh Brackett
Level 7 - Mordecai Roshwald
Cat's Cradle - Kurt Vonnegut
Dr. Bloodmoney - Philip K. Dick
On the Beach - Neville Shute
Lot & Lot's Daughter - Ward Moore
The Iron Dragon's Daughter - Michael Swanwick
What Entropy Means to Me - George Alec Effinger
Catastrophe Planet - Keith Laumer
A Canticle for Leibowitz - Walter M. Miller Jr.
Davy - Edgar Pangborn
posted by jamjam at 4:47 PM on May 22


Kazuo Ishiguro's Never Let Me Go
posted by gyusan at 4:58 PM on May 22


I just finished the Chaos Walking trilogy by Patrick Ness and highly recommend it.
posted by parakeetdog at 5:20 PM on May 22


Shades of Grey: The Road to High Saffron - Jasper Fforde
posted by fuse theorem at 5:25 PM on May 22 [2 favorites]


This Perfect Day by Ira Levin.
posted by silverstatue at 6:21 PM on May 22


Dog Stars by Peter Heller was the last book I finished, and I devoured it. Nthing Alas Babylon and Wool. Ready Player One by Ernest Cline doesn't so much focus on the dystopian aspect but it's still a great read. A Canticle for Liebowitz spans centuries and more than one catastrophe. The Postman by David Brin. Earth Abides.
posted by sacrifix at 9:38 PM on May 22


The Unit by Ninni Holmqvist
posted by hush at 9:56 PM on May 22


Karin Boye's Kallocain is very 1984-ish but was published (in Swedish) eight years before 1984 and only appeared in English transaltion in 1966. Like 1984, it was influenced by Zamyatin's We, already mentioned by darchildre above.
posted by TheRaven at 11:44 PM on May 22


I just read The Circle by Dave Eggers and it was good! Near-future dystopia having to do with concentrated corporate power, enforced social media participation and the panopticon.
posted by aka burlap at 6:44 AM on May 23


Good News by Ed Abbey

Though, one man's dystopia is another man's utopia.
posted by Seamus at 8:29 AM on May 23


You might find the dystopia entry at the Science Fiction Encyclopedia helpful.
posted by Chrysostom at 8:38 AM on May 23


Thirding The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi which I'm part-way through at the moment. A nicely described future version of the world.

Random Acts of Senseless Violence by Jack Womack is a wonderfully told version of dystopian (if not necessarily very future) New York. In fact I reread his Ambient recently and that's also a great dystopian New York.
posted by fabius at 1:59 PM on May 23


334, Thomas Disch
posted by Chrysostom at 2:05 PM on May 23


I bet you'd find a lot to love in The Weird: A Compendium of Strange and Dark Stories.
posted by sevensnowflakes at 2:51 PM on May 23


Starfish is about abusers and abuse-victims who have been trained in their sleep to operate underwater geothermal equipment, then transformed into aquatic cyborgs so they can live/work at the bottom of the sea, feeding the endless hunger for energy back on land. They take the emotionally head-fucked, the severly-bent-but-not-broken for this duty because they can handle the stress of living/working on the ocean floor in close quarters with their others as fucked as themselves.

And they're all volunteers. Because things are REALLY fucked up back on land. Bottom of the sea with violent head-cases is the sweet-looking option for these folk.

According to Peter Watts, Starfish was rejected by Russian publishing houses for being "too depressing".

For the extreme socio-enviro masochists, there are books 2 & 3.
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 9:22 AM on May 26


Sorry to be overly particular, but do you mean dystopian, as in a crappy future that is crappy because of a bunch of political and social decision making, or post-apocalyptic, which is a crappy future because of more tangible reasons? Because I read a lot of post-apoc, but not much dystopian.
posted by turbid dahlia at 4:47 PM on May 27


I mean dystopian, not generally post apocalyptic, although that sometimes applies.
posted by SkylitDrawl at 2:32 PM on May 29


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