A freelance writer and traveller who likes to explore the spiritual, literary and hidden gems of Adelaide and beyond.
Published April 11th 2020
The Future is Now
As we adapt to new restrictions due to COVID-19 many of us have had time to pursue long put off home tasks. In addition, finding increased reading time for a good book or two. Coincidently I have found myself reading the disturbing dystopian novel The Testaments – sequel to The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood. Previously I saw the genre of dystopia, that is a repressive society, a new order if you will, held down by the total oppression of its citizens, as a nightmare scenario, far away from the real world. However, we are now in these strange times, where many of the restrictions in these nightmare scenarios are in place. The social isolation and lockdown giving us a sense of unreality, as we face the loss of previous comforts and joy. During this time, you may also like to explore the futuristic, dark, nightmare world of dystopian fiction.
1. Nineteen Eighty-Four: A Novel - George Orwell. A masterpiece of the genre which has led to the terminology Orwellian to describe dystopian times.
2. Brave New World – Aldous Huxley. Terrifying prophesies and portents written in 1932.
3. The Handmaid's Tale & sequel The Testaments – Margaret Atwood. What has been revealing is how very 'now' these books are in the context of the world events of COVID-19. How very easily we have become a different place - socially isolated 'for our own good'.
4. The Time Machine – H.G. Wells – An early exponent of dystopian literature, published in 1895.
5. The Road – Cormac McCarthy. This writer excels in gritty if depressing realism. Also adapted to film.
6. The Maze Runner – James Dashner. A hugely popular series, also adapted for the cinema.
7. The Stand – Stephen King. A master writer of the dystopian genre. See also The Running Man - first published under his pseudonym of Richard Bachman.
8. The Hunger Games – Suzanne Collins. Another hugely popular series of the 21st Century in book or film form.
9. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? – Philip K. Dick. The book was adapted to the classic film Bladerunner.
10. A Clockwork Orange – Anthony Burgess. The film version is equally chilling.
The genre of dystopian fiction has been around for a long time. As we find ourselves more like we are living in a dark and isolated scenario portrayed, perversely these books may show some hope for the future and a way forward. Or they may just be pure escapism, I'll leave it up to you.
Public Libraries may have closed their doors, but their online catalogues are still available. You can obtain eBooks, or request hard copy books and arrange pick up. Or alternatively support your local bookshop.
This is far from an exhaustive list - you may have your own favourite dystopian classic book, or possibly may just about to write your own.