Looking for dystopian short fiction and literary theory
December 21, 2013 4:54 AM   Subscribe

Please help me find as much short (8,000 words or less) dystopian fiction and literary theory (any length) as possible! Anthologies are fine. It can be on the internet or in book/magazine/any purchasable form. It can be famous; it can be obscure. Anything goes, really!

Paolo Bacigalupi is already on my radar, thanks to this fantastic site.

Many thanks!
posted by Quilford to Writing & Language (15 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: George Saunders does dystopia, and short — can't say if they're under 8k, though.
posted by scruss at 5:06 AM on December 21, 2013

Best answer: After: Nineteen Stories of Apocalypse and Dystopia is pretty good; as the title says it's about 50/50 between dystopian and post-apocalyptic stories. It's been a while since I read it, but I really enjoyed it when I picked it up.
posted by NoraReed at 5:15 AM on December 21, 2013

Response by poster: Oh yeah! Post-apocalypse is also sweet, I should add.
posted by Quilford at 5:39 AM on December 21, 2013

Best answer: 2 b or not 2 be - Kurt Vonnegut
posted by chasles at 5:42 AM on December 21, 2013

Best answer: The first chapter of Tom Disch's 334, as well as much of his other work.
posted by Mr. Justice at 7:47 AM on December 21, 2013

Best answer: An oldie but a goodie: Catastrophes! edited by Asimov is a collection of dystopian/apocalyptic short stories.
posted by lydhre at 8:04 AM on December 21, 2013

I read Green Monkey Dreams by Isobelle Carmody as a teen, and I still remember a couple of dystopian stories. It's a YA novel, but the writing is very compelling. The applicable stories are called 'The Glory Days', 'Roaches' and 'The Beast' -- the rest isn't really apocalyptic or such.

*A quick search indicates to me that 'Roaches' was also published in an anthology Into the Future which sounds promising regarding short apocalyptic/dystopian fiction too.
posted by Dimes at 8:53 AM on December 21, 2013

A modest proposal
posted by aniola at 8:58 AM on December 21, 2013

Best answer: Also Harrison Bergeron by Kurt Vonnegut.
posted by désoeuvrée at 10:31 AM on December 21, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Wastelands: Stories of the Apocalypse has quite a few good stories in it, though most are buried at the back of the book, so you have to read through a number of so-so ones to get to them.
posted by Canageek at 12:12 PM on December 21, 2013

Best answer: For the literary theory, do you have access to academic databases or libraries? I ran a quick search and came up with a few books you might want to check out. These are all targeted primarily towards contemporary literature.

Dystopian Fiction East and West: Universe of Terror and Trial, by Erika Gottlieb.

"Erika Gottlieb offers an original and comprehensive exploration of dystopian fiction. She discusses Western classics such as Huxley's "Brave New World", Orwell's "Nineteen Eighty-Four", Bradbury's "Farenheit 451", Vonnegut's "Player Piano", Atwood's "The Handmaid's Tale", and Zamiatin's "We", all fictions that project expanded versions of the flaws of current society onto a hypothetical monster state in the future.These fictions work as prophetic warnings against a nightmare world that could, but should not be allowed to, come about. Gottlieb juxtaposes the Western dystopian genre with Eastern and Central European versions, introducing a selection of works from Russia, Poland, Hungary, and Czechoslovakia."

The Dystopian Impulse in Modern Literature, by M. Keith Booker. You'll probably need inter-library loan for this one, but the author has a handful of other books along similar lines.

Contemporary Dystopian Fiction for Young Adults: Brave New Teenagers, edited by Catherine Hintz.

That last one is a collection of articles. In general, I think you might come up with more targeted, higher-quality stuff by searching the journals for dystopia-specific material and also browsing a few book-length works on Science Fiction more broadly... but that's only if you're trying to work up an essay or the course on the subject - I'm sure this will be enough to get you started if you're reading for pleasure. Enjoy!
posted by pretentious illiterate at 4:42 PM on December 21, 2013

Response by poster: I have access to JSTOR and have used it to limited success.

Thanks very much pretentious illiterate and everyone else! Keep it coming (:
posted by Quilford at 4:47 PM on December 21, 2013

Best answer: Story collection: Brave New Worlds: Dystopian Stories.
posted by Chrysostom at 6:28 PM on December 21, 2013

This may be hard to track down, but I just stumbled upon Lot & Lot's Daughter's, by Ward Moore.

2 short stories originally published in the mid 50s. My first thought after reading was, "I gotta track down everything I possibly can by this guy!"

Lot and Lot's Daughter is a 72-page booklet nicely done in a $10 paperback by Tachyon. "Lot," first published in 1953 . . . [had a] brutal enough twist for 1953, but the sequel, published the following year, seems shockingly ahead of its time.
-The Washington Post Book World

posted by the bricabrac man at 5:36 AM on December 22, 2013

I read an excerpt of Gary Shteyngart's Super Sad True Love Story in The New Yorker last year. Super-scary, super-funny.
posted by shelle at 9:55 PM on December 26, 2013

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