Saturday, 19 May 2012

Dystopian Fiction.

Dystopian Fiction 

I love dystopian fiction and with books like 'The Hunger Games' becoming large franchises it is starting to experience something of a resurgence. These are my personal favourite dystopian novels.

#1 - Brave New world - Aldous Huxley.

I read this novel when I was sixteen and it was the first book that got me into 'serious reading'. Before reading this my small interest in literature was heavily shadowed by rock music and video games, how quickly this changed. Brave New World is what I view as the most accurate depiction of the way that western society is going. It was first published in 1932 and Huxley was amazingly accurate with many of his predictions. One of these is the concept of designer children. Huxley created a world where people are engineered to fit whichever role they are going to fulfil in life. Nobody feels the need to escape from this scientifically engineered caste system because they have all been bred to to want nothing more than what they have. As a sixteen year old (and still now) I viewed this as a much more realistic depiction of population control than 'Nineteen Eighty-Four' in which people are scared and monitored into submission. However, both have their truths, of course.

#2 - The Road - Cormac McCarthy.

This novel focuses less on it's dystopian elements and more on a story of survival, both mental and physical, of a father and son amidst a dystopian backdrop. It doesn't make any assumptions about the relationship between father and son, it just puts them into an extreme situation and allows the reader to view and make their own decision about it. I love this novel because it gives us a beautiful depiction of this type of relationship without being at all sentimental. However, I know people who have got completely different things out of the novel. The dystopian aspects are left completely unanswered and for this story it works.

#3 - The Handmaid's Tale - Margaret Atwood.

Atwood is a master of her art but writes with a completely humble style. She is one of those writers you can enjoy whether you are completely wordy and into literature or if you barely read at all. This is because it works on different levels. I do find that some of the dystopian aspects of this novel have become somewhat dated but I enjoyed seeing it from the viewpoint of a female character and a female writer. The most I got from this novel is the personal story of survival of the main character 'Offred'. Like Atwood's writing style, she is a humble character that we can all relate to. It also looks a the dangers that can come of repressing female sexuality, something Atwood (a feminist herself) opposed of many feminist groups at the time.

#4 - Nineteen Eighty-Four - George Orwell.

Of course I had to include this in the list. Although I do not consider this the religiously accepted leader of dystopian fiction as many do it is still a great novel. You can link many of the novels themes to things going on right now such as the rise in multiple types of surveillance on the general public and the supposed 'war on terror'. This is your bread and butter of dystopian fiction and should be read by anyone interested in literature because it makes you think and question the world you live in. However, as I said previously, Huxley did it better.

#5 - Watchmen - Alan Moore.

I don't read many graphic novels because most I have looked at are fairly badly written. However, Alan Moore is of a different class and 'Watchmen' deserves all the attention it gets. Also, Rorschach is definitely one of my icons. 

How can you not love this guy?

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