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Dystopic Novels?

Cliff posted more than 12 years ago | from the for-those-who-dislike-happy-endings dept.

News 172

paulumz asks: "I'm having a great deal of difficulty finding novels about distopias. Or any novels with a good depressing ending with no hope of a future. I'm well aware of 1984, Brave New World, and Handmaid's Tale, I'm looking for lesser known ones. Know of any good ones?"

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off the top of my head (3, Interesting)

Snafoo (38566) | more than 12 years ago | (#4007023)

_Do_Androids_Dream_Of_Electric_Sheep, philip K dick.

Almost anything by William Gibson (depending on your (pre)conception of dystopia).

Re:off the top of my head (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#4007282)

Actually, pretty much anything by Philip K. Dick would qualify as dystopian, even those set in the "real world." However, "Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said" and "The Man in the High Castle" are the choicest of his novels, quality-wise.

How about the U.S. News? (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#4008448)

Unthinkable a year ago, there is now the shape of an American Gulag where people can disappear without public legal proceedings or possibly no legal proceedings at all.

Bush's Grim Vision By Nat Parry June 21, 2002

In the nine months since Sept. 11, George W. Bush has put the United States on a course that is so bleak that few analysts have - as the saying goes - connected the dots. If they had, they would see an outline of a future that mixes constant war overseas with abridgment of constitutional freedoms at home, a picture drawn by a politician who once joked, "If this were a dictatorship, it would be a heck of a lot easier - so long as I'm the dictator."

The dots are certainly there. Bush's speech at West Point on June 1 asserted a unilateral U.S. right to overthrow any government in the world that is deemed a threat to American security, a position so sweeping that it lacks historical precedent. "If we wait for threats to fully materialize, we will have waited too long," Bush said in describing what he calls a "new doctrine" and what some acolytes have dubbed the "Bush Doctrine."

In a domestic corollary to this Bush Doctrine, Bush is asserting his personal authority to strip even U.S. citizens of due-process rights if he judges them "enemy combatants." With Vice President Dick Cheney and Attorney General John Ashcroft warning critics not to question Bush's policy, it's not too big a jump to see a future where there will be spying on dissenters and limits on public debate, especially now that Ashcroft has lifted restrictions on FBI surveillance activities.

That possibility would grow if the Republicans succeed in regaining control of the Senate and place more of Bush's conservative political allies in the federal courts.

Bush's grim vision is of a modern "crusade," as he once put it, with American military forces striking preemptively at "evil-doers" wherever they live, while U.S. citizens live under a redefined Constitution with rights that can be suspended selectively by one man. Beyond the enormous sacrifices of blood, money and freedom that this plan entails, there is another problem: the strategy offers no guarantee of greater security for Americans and runs the risk of deepening the pool of hatred against the United States.

With his cavalier tough talk, Bush continues to show no sign that he grasps how treacherous his course is, nor how much more difficult it will be if the U.S. alienates large segments of the world's population.

Goodwill Lost

One of the most stunning results of Bush's behavior over the past nine months has been the dissipation of the vast reservoir of goodwill that sprang up toward the United States in the days after Sept. 11. In cities all over the world, people spontaneously carried flowers to the sidewalks outside U.S. embassies and joined in mourning for the more than 3,000 people murdered in New York, at the Pentagon and in Pennsylvania.

I joined a kind of pilgrimage in Copenhagen, Denmark, as people carried bouquets, a New York Yankees cap and other symbols of sympathy to the U.S. Embassy. More substantively, governments around the globe opened their files to help U.S. authorities hunt down those behind the murders.

European nations, which earlier had been alarmed by Bush's tendency toward unilateralism, hoped the inexperienced president would gain an appreciation for multilateral approaches toward addressing root causes of global problems and finding ways to create a more livable world. Some Europeans, for instance, thought Bush might reverse his repudiation of the Kyoto agreement, which seeks to curb global warming and avoid economic dislocations that would follow dramatic climate changes.

Bush, however, appears to have learned the opposite lesson. He's grown more disdainful of international opinion. He seems intent on throwing American weight around and demanding that other nations follow whatever course he chooses. As for global warming, his administration now has accepted the scientific evidence that human activity is contributing to a dangerous heating of the planet, but he continues to favor "voluntary" approaches to the problem and opposes collaborating with other nations to limit emissions to retard those trends.

On the war against terrorism, Bush has asserted that he will judge whether another country is "with us, or you are with the terrorists." [Sept. 20, 2001] If a country picks the wrong side, Bush will decide when, how or if that country's government will be overthrown. Bush started with Afghanistan before fingering the "axis of evil" states: Iraq, Iran and North Korea. His supporters have lobbied to expand the list to add nations as diverse as Syria, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and Cuba.

Bush's actions have alarmed traditional U.S. allies in Western Europe. To them, the first clear post-Sept. 11 signal that Bush still had little interest in multilateral cooperation was his disregard of international concerns over the treatment of prisoners locked in open cages at Camp X-Ray on the U.S. military base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Bush drew criticism from the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights when he effectively waived the Third Geneva Convention's protections of prisoners of war. The Bush administration announced that contrary to the Convention's provisions, the United States would unilaterally declare which Guantanamo prisoners qualify for POW status and which POW protections they would enjoy. [See's Bush's Return to Unilateralism, Feb. 18, 2002]

Since then, the administration has ignored or renounced a string of international agreements. Bush formally withdrew from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, which had been a bulwark of arms control since 1972. He flouted the nuclear non-proliferation treaty by pointing nuclear warheads at non-nuclear states. He breached World Trade Organization rules by erecting tariffs for foreign steel.

Targeting Individuals

Beyond those policy rebuffs to multilateralism, Bush went on the offensive against individual U.N. officials who have not conformed to his administration's desires. These officials, who insisted on holding Bush to standards applied to other leaders around the world, soon found themselves out of jobs.

U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, Mary C. Robinson, was the first to experience the administration's displeasure. The former Irish president's efforts had won acclaim from human rights groups around the world. But her fierce independence, which surfaced in her criticism of Israel and Bush's war on terror, rubbed Washington the wrong way. The Bush administration lobbied hard against her reappointment. Officially, she was retiring on her own accord. [ shtml]

The Bush administration also forced out Robert Watson, the chairman of the U.N.-sponsored Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [IPCC]. Under his leadership, the panel had reached a consensus that human activities, such as burning fossil fuels, contributed to global warming. Bush has resisted this science, which also is opposed by oil companies such as ExxonMobil. The oil giant sent a memo to the White House asking the administration, "Can Watson be replaced now at the request of the U.S.?" [ 002/0204un_body.html]

The ExxonMobil memo, obtained by the Natural Resources Defense Council through the Freedom of Information Act, urged the White House to "restructure U.S. attendance at the IPCC meetings to assure no Clinton/Gore proponents are involved in decisional activities."

On April 19, ExxonMobil got its wish. The administration succeeded in replacing Watson with Rajendra Pachauri, an Indian economist. Commenting on his removal, Watson said, "U.S. support was, of course, an important factor. They [the IPCC] came under a lot of pressure from ExxonMobil who asked the White House to try and remove me." [Independent, April 20, 2002]

The next to go, on April 22, was Jose Mauricio Bustani, the head of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons [OPCW]. Bustani ran into trouble when he resisted Bush administration efforts to dictate the nationalities of inspectors assigned to investigate U.S. chemical facilities. He also opposed a U.S. law allowing Bush to block unannounced inspections in the United States.

Bustani came under criticism for "bias" because his organization had sought to inspect American chemical facilities as aggressively as it examined facilities of U.S.-designated "rogue states." In other words, he was called biased because he sought to apply the rules evenhandedly. [ shtml]

The final straw for Bush apparently was Bustani's efforts to persuade Iraq to join the Chemical Weapons Convention, which would allow the OPCW to inspect Iraqi facilities. The Bush administration denounced this move an "ill-considered initiative" and pushed to have Bustani deposed, threatening to withhold dues to the OPCW if Bustani remained.

Critics said Washington's reasoning was that Bush would be stripped of a principal rationale for invading Iraq and ousting Saddam Hussein if the Iraqi dictator agreed to join the international body designed to inspect chemical-weapons facilities, including those in Iraq. A senior U.S. official dismissed that interpretation of Bush's motive as "an atrocious red herring."

Accusing Bustani of mismanagement, U.S. officials called an unprecedented special session to vote Bustani out, only a year after he was unanimously reelected to another five-year term. The member states chose to sacrifice Bustani to save the organization from the loss of U.S. funds. [Christian Science Monitor, April 24, 2002]

"By dismissing me," Bustani told the U.N. body, "an international precedent will have been established whereby any duly elected head of any international organization would at any point during his or her tenure remain vulnerable to the whims of one or a few major contributors." He said that if the United States succeeded in removing him, "genuine multilateralism" would succumb to "unilateralism in a multilateral disguise." [ ml]

World Cooperation

Despite Bush's success bending some international organizations to his will, Europe and other parts of the world have continued to promote multilateral strategies, even over Bush's objections.

On April 11, the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court was ratified by enough countries to make the court a reality. Treaty ratification surged past the necessary 60 countries with the approval of Bosnia-Herzogovina, Bulgaria, Cambodia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ireland, Jordan, Mongolia, Niger, Romania and Slovakia -- to go along with the support of all the nations of Western Europe and virtually every major U.S. ally.

Taking effect on July 1 - with an inaugural ceremony of the International Criminal Court expected as early as February 2003 - the court will try people accused of genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes. Amnesty International has called the court "a historic development in the fight for justice." Human Rights Watch has called it "the most important new institution for enforcing human rights in 50 years."

Reacting hostilely to the Rome Statute's ratification, Bush reiterated his opposition and repudiated President Clinton's decision to sign the accord. "The United States has no legal obligations arising from its signature on Dec. 31, 2000," the Bush administration said in a May 6 letter to U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan. "The United States requests that its intention not to become a party ... be reflected in the depositary's status lists relating to this treaty." []

While the "unsigning" was a remarkable snub at the world's diplomats and at principles of civilized behavior that the U.S. has long championed, it will not itself stop the court's creation, nor does it legally absolve the United States from cooperating with it. But the letter does signal Bush's intent to undermine the court at every turn.

With strong administration support, House Republicans promoted a bill that would allow U.S. armed forces to invade the Hague, Netherlands, where the court will be located, to rescue U.S. soldiers if they are ever prosecuted for war crimes. The bill, sponsored by House Majority Whip Tom DeLay, would bar U.S. military aid to countries that ratify the treaty. The bill also would prevent the U.S. from participating in peacekeeping missions that might put American soldiers under the court's jurisdiction. DeLay's bill even would prohibit the U.S. from sharing intelligence with the court regarding suspects being investigated or prosecuted. []

The Bush administration's active campaign against the court places the U.S. alongside only one other country, Libya.

Contrasting Principles

Washington's opposition to the court contrasts, too, with the staunch U.S. support for the war crimes tribunal that was created to try former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic. In that case, the U.S. threatened to withhold financial aid to Yugoslavia if it did not hand over Milosevic and cooperate with the tribunal.

When Yugoslavia complied, Bush hailed the move as "a first step toward trying him for the crimes against humanity with which he is charged." Bush's opposition to a permanent war crimes court seems driven by fear that his freedom to wage war around the world might be proscribed by fear of war-crime charges.

Bush's selective unilateralism has sparked anti-Americanism even among former close allies. Reflecting the widespread view that Bush is asserting an American exceptionalism disdainful of world opinion, critics have come to routinely refer to the United States as "the empire."

During his May trip to Europe, demonstrators went into the streets to protest Bush's policies. The scene that I witnessed in Berlin in late May was almost the opposite of what I had observed in Copenhagen in mid-September. Instead of a warm affection for the United States, there was ridicule and contempt.

At the "Cowgirls and Cowboys Against the War" protest march in Berlin, demonstrators wearing cowboy outfits followed a truck with a country music band mocking Bush's Wild West approach to foreign relations. At the protest, I saw people holding signs that read, "George W. Bush: Usurper, Oil Chieftain, Super-terrorist" and "Bush: System Robot." Another sign I saw had a photograph of Bush with a goofy expression on his face and a caption reading, "Do you really want this man to lead us into war?"

The estimates of the Berlin protests ranged from 20,000 to 50,000 people. But it is clear from opinion polls and press commentaries that the protesters were expressing sentiments widely held in Europe. According to European polls, approval ratings of Bush's international policies hover at around 35 percent. [ rtID=153]

Many Europeans believe Bush offers only lip service to the American ideal of democracy. Not only is Bush building alliances with undemocratic human rights violators, such as Uzbekistan and Georgia, but Bush's diplomats were supportive when coup plotters briefly ousted the elected president of Venezuela, Hugo Chavez, on April 12.

The Bush administration viewed Chavez as a troublesome populist who threatened the stability of Venezuela's oil industry. Washington retreated only when Chavez backers poured into the streets and reversed the coup.

Limiting Freedoms

Now, Bush has established a domestic corollary to the worldwide "Bush Doctrine." Along with asserting his unilateral power abroad, Bush is limiting freedoms within the United States.

The expansion of police powers began immediately after the Sept. 11 attacks when Middle Easterners living in the U.S. were swept off the streets and held incommunicado as "material witnesses" or for minor visa violations. Attorney General Ashcroft likened their detentions to arresting gangsters for "spitting on the sidewalk."

The total number and the identities of those arrested remain state secrets. Government officials have estimated that about 1,100 people, mostly Middle Eastern-born men, were caught up in the dragnet. Some legal observers outside the government put the number much larger, at about 1,500 to 2,000 people. Only one of these detainees has been charged with a crime connected to the Sept. 11 attacks, Zacarias Moussaoui, who was in custody before the attacks. [For details, see's The Dragnet Comes Up Empty, June 19, 2002]

Next came the hundreds of combatants captured in Afghanistan and put in cages at the U.S. military base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Bush refused to grant them protections under the Geneva Conventions and said they could be tried by a military tribunal established by his fiat.

Initially, many Americans reconciled themselves to the array of post-Sept. 11 detentions and the Guantanamo cages, believing that the arrests without trial only affected foreigners and were a reaction to a short-term emergency. But that comfort level shrank when Jose Padilla, a 31-year-old U.S.-born citizen who had converted to Islam, was arrested on May 8 in Chicago.

Ashcroft announced the arrest at a dramatic news conference in Moscow more than a month later, on June 10. Ashcroft depicted Padilla's capture as a major victory in the war on terror. Administration officials said Padilla had met with al-Qaeda operatives abroad and was in the early stages of a plot to develop a radiological "dirty bomb" that would be detonated in a U.S. city.

But Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz said later that the bomb plot amounted only to "some fairly loose talk." [Washington Post, June 13, 2002] Nothing concrete had occurred. Padilla had no bomb-making materials, no target, no operational co-conspirators, no plan. Beyond assertions, the administration offered no evidence of Padilla's guilt.

Bush described Padilla as an "enemy combatant" and ordered him detained indefinitely at a military prison in South Carolina. No trial, not even one before the military tribunal, is to be held. Attempting to justify this extra-constitutional detention, Bush explained that Padilla is a "bad guy" and "he is where he needs to be, detained." The Bush administration said Padilla would be jailed for as long as the war on terrorism continues, potentially a life sentence given the vague goals and indefinite timetable of this conflict. [ ewsid_2039000/2039214.stm]

Even though the Clinton administration had succeeded in winning convictions against both Islamic and domestic terrorists in open court, Bush was demonstrating his Clint-Eastwood-style impatience for such legal niceties.

Though many Americans may feel little sympathy for Padilla, a street tough who allegedly consorted with al-Qaeda terrorists, the principle behind the case is clear: Bush is arrogating to himself the unilateral right to judge whether an American citizen is part of a terrorist cabal and thus can be stripped of all constitutional rights.

Under this precedent, a U.S. citizen can be denied his right to an attorney, his right to a speedy trial before a jury of peers, his right to confront accusers, his right against self-incrimination, even his right to have the charges against him spelled out. Simply on Bush's say-so, an allegation of conspiracy can become grounds for unlimited imprisonment, even with no overt acts and no public evidence.

A Bleak Future

It no longer seems farfetched to think that George W. Bush might someday expand his extraordinary powers to silence those who ask difficult questions or criticize his judgment or otherwise give aid and comfort to the enemy.

When some Democrats demanded to know what Bush knew about the terror threats before Sept. 11, Cheney delivered a blunt warning. "My Democratic friends in Congress," Cheney said, "they need to be very cautious not to seek political advantage by making incendiary suggestions, as were made by some today, that the White House had advance information that would have prevented the tragic attacks of 9/11." [Washington Post, May 17, 2002]

Bush, the first man in more than a century to take the White House after losing the popular vote, seems to have developed an abiding trust in his personal right to wield unlimited power. After succeeding in getting his allies on the U.S. Supreme Court to stop the counting of votes in Florida in December 2000, Bush may feel confident that he will have their help, too, in redefining the U.S. Constitution. Bush also may be confident that a frightened American populace will support his every move, regardless of how many freedoms they must surrender in the name of security.

Unthinkable a year ago, there is now the shape of an American Gulag where people can disappear without public legal proceedings or possibly no legal proceedings at all.

The American people may learn too late that relying on repression to gain security can mean sacrificing freedom without actually achieving greater security. As counterinsurgency experts have long argued, only a wise balance between reasonable security and smart policies to address legitimate grievances can reduce violence to manageable levels over the long term. Often, repression simply breeds new generations of bitter enemies.

Over the past nine months, George W. Bush has marched off in a political direction so troubling that American editorial writers don't dare speak its name. He is moving toward a system in which an un-elected leader decides what freedoms his people will be allowed at home and what countries will be invaded abroad. If carried to its ultimate conclusion, this political strategy can degenerate into what would be called in any other country a dictatorship.

--With reporting by Robert Parry

Re:How about the U.S. News? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#4008591)

This seems like it belongs on Kuro5hin. Not off-topic. Perhaps TOO much to the point! Someone Mod UP!

Re:off the top of my head (2)

Christopher Cashell (2517) | more than 12 years ago | (#4008779)

Here's one off the top of my head, since I haven't seen anyone mention it yet. . .

The Immortals, by Tracy Hickman (the guy who wrote all those Dragonlance novels with Margaret Weis, yes). This is a solo effort, and even it's publishing has an interesting story. It seems that due to it's subject matter and nature, Mr. Hickman, despite being a bestselling author, had a great deal of trouble getting this book initially published. I remember him being quoted once as saying that numerous editors and publishers told him that it was an excellent book, but that they'd never publish it.

The book deals with a dystopian society in 2010 where a deadly viral epidemic, V-CIDS, threatens the US and everyone in it. In a panic, the President allows for the creation of isolated camps for the "treatment" of those who are infected.

V-CIDS first began by spreading through the gay community, and this caused a backlash against homosexuals, much like what happened with AIDS in the early 90's. Only this disease is much, much, worse.

This book is definitely not without it's flaws, but it is still a great book, and well worth reading.

FP (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#4007024)

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more (3, Informative)

Snafoo (38566) | more than 12 years ago | (#4007030)

A quasi-dystopia (and very, very good reading):

_Infinite_Jest_, by David Foster Wallace.

Re:more (1)

Cuthalion (65550) | more than 12 years ago | (#4007094)

I just finished re-reading this. Goddamned brilliant. Yeah, it's not really dystopian, but read it anyways.

even more (2, Informative)

1015 (239564) | more than 12 years ago | (#4007304)

back to the oldskool:

strindberg: inferno (strindberg is considered to have been clinically mad)

louis-ferdinand celine: Journey to the End of the (quote from review: Journey to the End of the Night is a novel of savage, exultant misanthropy, full of cynical humour and of the blackest pessimism in respect of humanity.)

bret easton ellis: american psycho (nuff said)

hmm... (2)

ceejayoz (567949) | more than 12 years ago | (#4007043)

Catcher in the Rye?

The Story of my life as a Windows System Admin? (3, Funny)

Neck_of_the_Woods (305788) | more than 12 years ago | (#4007046)

I think that title says it all.

My autobiography (1)

Mordant (138460) | more than 12 years ago | (#4007047)

will be available in a Borders near you, sometimes soon. ;>

Zamyatin's We (1, Interesting)

thermo99 (100137) | more than 12 years ago | (#4007048)

Read We in HS and really enjoyed it. Worth checking out. @ amazon []
reference to more works: History of Distopia []

In all seriousness . . . (2, Informative)

Mordant (138460) | more than 12 years ago | (#4007058)

_I Am Legend_, Richard Matheson

_Jude the Obscure_, Thomas Hardy

_The Man Who Folded Himself_, David Gerrold

_I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream_, Harlan Ellison

_A Canticle for Leibowitz_, Walter E. Miller, Jr.

_Beowulf's Children_, Larry Niven, Jerry Pournelle

_Kaledioscope Century_, John Barnes

The War Against the Chtorr books, David Gerrold

_On the Beach_, Nevil Shute

_Alas, Babylon_, Pat Frank

The Chung Ko Cycle, David Wingrove

The Maurid Audran trilogy, George Alec Effinger

Re:In all seriousness . . . (2)

foobar104 (206452) | more than 12 years ago | (#4007118)

_Beowulf's Children_, Larry Niven, Jerry Pournelle

I was just thinking of this one myself. I don't guess it's technically a dystopia, but at the end the good guys (almost) all end up dead, so that counts for something.

In the same basic vein is the Endymion saga, by Dan Simmons. The end of the last book is accompanied by the last possible thing that you would want to see happen. There's a sort-of happy ending, but after a few minutes you end up thinking to yourself, "but want a minute, she's still going to... they're still going to...." It's wrenching.

Re:In all seriousness . . . (2)

AJWM (19027) | more than 12 years ago | (#4009004)

I don't see how Gerrold's The Man Who Folded Himself is a dystopia. A little weird, perhaps, but an entertaining read that amounts to a book-length version of Heinlein's "All You Zombies".

I don't know whether to agree with you or not with his War Against the Chtorr -- partly because he hasn't finished the damn series! It certainly does seem, though, that despite minor victories in each book, overall Earth is losing to the invaders. You could make the same observation about Harry Turtledove's Worldwar and Colonization series (the first recounts the arrival of the invasion fleet, the second of the colonization fleet, which left the home system long before the first arrived at Earth), although Gerrold's alien ecosystems are more horrific.

don't forget utopian novels too... (1)

possibly0 (250788) | more than 12 years ago | (#4007062)

last summer i was on a dystopian novel kick, and then figured that if dystopian novels a good way to learn about society and where it's headed, utopian novels could be good also. try reading sir thomas moore's book 'utopia', which is where the word comes from. it's a really good, but short, read.

We (2, Informative)

byoon (121785) | more than 12 years ago | (#4007065)

We by Yevgeny Zamyatin [] - considered the first real dystopian novel of the 20th century.

Re:We (2)

eddy the lip (20794) | more than 12 years ago | (#4008104)

Let me second that one. A friend recommended it to me for years before I got around to reading it this winter. It's haunting, one of my new favorites. Interesting to see, too, how much

  • 1984
drew from it.

Plato (2)

flonker (526111) | more than 12 years ago | (#4007069)

Plato - The Phaedo

**** SPOILER ****

As related in the Crito Socrates is imprisoned awaiting the time when a sacred ship returns from Delos as this will lift a prohibition on the completion of the sentence he faces - the drinking of the fatal poison - Hemlock.

Visionary: (2)

Perdo (151843) | more than 12 years ago | (#4007082)

H. G. Wells of course.

Created the genre.

Gibson may have created cyberpunk, but Wells created gibson.

Re:Visionary: (1)

snerdy (444659) | more than 12 years ago | (#4007695)

Wells and Gibson may have their own bleak messages to convey (I think they just being honest, really) but Sameul Butler is generally credited with creating the idea of "dystopia" (specifically, the opposite of a utopia). Check out his story "Erehwon": ho n/

This is, incidentally, the first use of the word Erewhon ("nowhere" spelled backwards) -- a much stolen and uncredited idea ever since.


Kafka (2)

MrResistor (120588) | more than 12 years ago | (#4007083)

Pretty much anything by Franz Kafka should fit the bill, though not really sci-fi. Also, Kurt Vaughagut Jr (SP?).

Re:Kafka (2)

belroth (103586) | more than 12 years ago | (#4007401)

Kurt Vonnegut Jr.
Not all dystopic but worth reading anyway.

Re:Kafka (1)

bowronch (56911) | more than 12 years ago | (#4007546)

Most dystopic are probably Player Piano, Galapagos and Cat's Cradle...

Player Piano is the most similar to novels such as Brave New World and 1984... The others have a different feel to them...

Maybe (1)

jbolden (176878) | more than 12 years ago | (#4007096)

If you are willing to tolerate a religious one, Caldwell's "We all Fall Down".

Elizabeth Hand (1)

blmatthews (231533) | more than 12 years ago | (#4007097)

It's been a while, but I remember Elizabeth Hand's Winterlong series (Winterlong, Aestival Tide, Icarus Descending) as being fairly dystopic.


Try some French authors (2)

c.r.o.c.o (123083) | more than 12 years ago | (#4007103)

Balzac, Zola, Flaubert, Proust and many others...

They all have novels that are dealing with the darker side of life. All you're left with after finishing the novels is a feeling of futility, of hopelessness. But they gave me a better understanding of people in general and in particular human degradation and vices and without having to experience it first hand.

The settings are in the middle to the end of the 19th century France, so they have nothing of Science Fiction in them (this is /. after all, so I guess it's expected).

Of the three I've listed Honore de Balzac is the lighter one. His novels do have some positive endings, although none end in the manner we've been taught to expect by Hollywood. Zola is definitely dark, and if you can't stand gory descriptions and settings, don't touch him. He's the more difficult to read too.

I'm sure they are very accessible in translation (at least they are in Toronto).

But it's 3am where I live and I really should get some sleep...

Nabokov (3, Informative)

esme (17526) | more than 12 years ago | (#4007117)

Other people have mentioned a lot these authors, but here are my favorites:
  • Zamiatin: We - probably the first dystopic novel
  • Kakfa: The Trial - Much better then Metamorphosis, IMHO. Though the end is a bit sudden.
  • Nabokov: Bend Sinister - the best dystopia, and the most realistic. Almost all early Nabokov has dystopic elements. Invitation to a Beheading is another great dystopia by VN, too.
  • Wells: Time Machine - one of the great classics.
  • Vonnegut: Galapagos - Vonnegut's got a lot of dystopic themes running through his work, but this is my favorite. Close runners up would be Slaughterhouse-5 and Cat's Cradle.
  • Heller: Catch-22 - another looks at WW2 as a dystopia. Worth reading just for the concepts of jamais-vu and presque-vu. One of the funniest books around, too.


Re:Nabokov (2)

sigwinch (115375) | more than 12 years ago | (#4007182)

Galapagos is great. Deep and wide philosophical scope, but still fun and comprehensible.

My suggestions: The City and the Stars by Arthur C. Clarke is classic sci-fi dystopia. The Folk of the Fringe by Orson Scott Card is an optimistic post-apocalyptic dystopia.

trilogy (1)

lytles (24756) | more than 12 years ago | (#4007126)

cormac mccarthy's border trilogy

slashdot == dystopia (1)

Scaba (183684) | more than 12 years ago | (#4007135)

Reading all of the comments to any /. story is as dystopian as it gets.

It's no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society. - J. Krishnamarti

Horror/Detective (1)

Sandman1971 (516283) | more than 12 years ago | (#4007144)

Anything by Micheal Slade. His/Their books always have a twist at the end which is at the same time surprising and depressing.

Here's a gem, plus a few classics . . . (1)

scrimmer (229387) | more than 12 years ago | (#4007155)

Though it's not strictly dystopian like 1984 and Brave New World, you might like Earth Abides, by George R. Stewart. Published in 1949, this novel chronicles the physical, philosophical, and emotional journies of a single man as he copes with a post-apocalyptic world. Quite a good book; n.b. much of the novel is set in San Francisco.

You can read brief reviews here [] and here [] , and of course, from here [] .

There are also:

The Sheep Look Up by John Brunner (1)

Frantactical Fruke (226841) | more than 12 years ago | (#4007173)

Definitely a classic of 20th century dystopic literature. Carries the threats of environmental pollution and corporate irresponsibility to their gruesome extremes, producing a world that stinks - literally, of course.

Acid rain, poisoned food, household implements that kill you and every other threat to the quality of living for any criiter on Earth that environmentalists in the 70s could imagine.

Well written, too. Good characters, relentless plot.

John Brunner's other classic in the same vein is Stand On Zanzibar, which I remember very little of, as it's fifteen years since I read it. Pretty good as well, I seem to recall.

Oranges are not the only fruit (1)

linzeal (197905) | more than 12 years ago | (#4007197)

Jeanette Winterson

Think contemporary dystopia.

write your own (2)

austad (22163) | more than 12 years ago | (#4007212)

Write an autobiography. :)

Atlas Shrugged. (2)

BitGeek (19506) | more than 12 years ago | (#4007248)

And what's best about it is the dystopia is the creation of the policies and politics you see around you every day. Unlike most, it is not fantastical, speculative, and while it does have a bit of sci fi element, in the interest of expressing "future technology" but generally, its almost old fashioned in style.

Yes the novel is about the triumph of the human spirit, like 1984, but it is great literature, and will likely open your eyes to things you see every day but don't recognize.

Well worth reading, and re-reading. (Of course, I will get flamed for recommending this, because there are actually people who advocate the dystopia that occurs in the novel, and of course ,they hate having it being pointed out. But I challenge anyone who hates this book to actually read it, and show where its wrong-- so far nobody has met that challenge. So, unless you've read it and can provide a rational response, don't tell me how much you think it sucks...

Hell, all teh fanatics that want you to NOT read it is reason enough to read it.

Re:Atlas Shrugged. (2)

mshiltonj (220311) | more than 12 years ago | (#4007328)

Another book by Rand is Anthem. Much easier read than Atlas, and shorter. You could read it in a day. Dystopian throughout.

Re:Atlas Shrugged. (2)

BitGeek (19506) | more than 12 years ago | (#4009052)

While we're at it We The Living is set during the rise of communism in Russia. Real dystopia on earth- who needs fiction?

I won't spoil the ending but lets just say its not wrapped up in a nice happy bundle.

Re:Atlas Shrugged. (1)

Mr. Slippery (47854) | more than 12 years ago | (#4007983)

Hell, all teh fanatics that want you to NOT read it is reason enough to read it.
I've never yet heard any "fanatic" tell people not to read it. However, the attitudes of fanatical Rand worshippers have, so far, managed to discourage me from picking it up. Yes, a bunch of fanatics that want you TO read something is reason enough to stay away...

Re:Atlas Shrugged. (2)

eddy the lip (20794) | more than 12 years ago | (#4008150)

I was lucky, I read The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged before I knew about her philosophies (although there was little doubt about them by the time I was finished those) or her generally uncritical followers. Atlas Shrugged would have done well with a good editor, but aside from the occasional diatribe (skip the 30 page radio screed in the middle of the book), it's quite a good book. I liked the Fountainhead better - it's more focused, and less strident, but Atlas Shrugged is worthwhile. There is something rather majestic about her single-minded women and strong-jawed men gazing into the future. And for all her lack of compassion, there is some redemption in her belief in (at least some of) mankind. Just don't take her too seriously.

Re:Atlas Shrugged. (2)

BitGeek (19506) | more than 12 years ago | (#4009085)

Actually, she's the most compassionate person I can think of. And she advocates far more compassion than, say, the Bible.

If you don't take her "too seriously" you are avoiding the philosophy-- that 30 page screed you said to avoid, lays out the philosophy in a logical manner from the most basic of assumptions, and then goes to prove its correctness.

That majesty you admire is a quality you can have if you want it. Humans don't have to be doomed to shooting themselves in the foot everyday, and I remain perplexed as to the fanatics who continue to advocate such misery.

So, I don't see how you can't take it too seriously.

Re:Atlas Shrugged. (2)

BitGeek (19506) | more than 12 years ago | (#4009067)

I love it.

I'm happy to address any issues you might have with her philosophy, but in order to do that, you're going to have to read it. But, conveniently, you'd rather not read it so you can sit there and call people who have understood it names.

The book was good for me. Before I read it I thought objectivists were not making much sense. now I understand why they are right. I learned a lot from it... and gained a lot of skills in evaluating the world around me.

This only works to your personal detriment.

Re:Atlas Shrugged. (1)

sudog (101964) | more than 12 years ago | (#4008456)

1984 was NOT about the triumph of the human spirit. Did you neglect to actually read the novel you're commenting on?

Re:Atlas Shrugged. (2)

BitGeek (19506) | more than 12 years ago | (#4009099)

I read it. That was what it was about to me- in spite of the doublespeak society that we live in.

There's a reason some things are ambiguous in novels.

Re:Atlas Shrugged. (1)

frAme57 (145879) | more than 12 years ago | (#4008727)

I agree with BitGeek; Atlas Shrugged is an excellent read. But if you want a sample of Ayn Rand's work that includes a dystopic ending and is a little easier on your schedule (AS is like taking on a part time job) try We the Living. It is a semi-autobiography set in Russia immediately after the Communist Revolution. It makes 1984 look an amusement park.

An even shorter read is Anthem, though it does have slightly more optimistic ending.

Re:Atlas Shrugged. (2)

david.given (6740) | more than 12 years ago | (#4009441)

I read it. I liked it. I didn't believe any of it.

On the purely literary side, it's a dreadful book. The plot exists purely to put across her various philosophical points. Her characters are so thin they don't even count as cardboard; they are pure stereotypes (you can find most of the same people, with different names, in The Fountainhead. The writing style is clunky to say the least. And that lecture at the end --- good gods, woman, don't you have any sense of pacing?

And yet... there's an energy behind it that makes it compulsive reading. I couldn't put it down. That counts for something.

And now the philosophy. I am not an economist; I can only call it as I see it. I think she's making the exact opposite mistake Karl Marx made. Marx forgot that humans are greedy and selfish, and so won't put the same effort into working for an abstract state that they will into working for themselves. Ayn Rand, however, forgot that humans need to care and believe, and her Objectivist society is completely uncaring. If you don't or can't work, you will drop off the bottom and society will forget you and let you die. There is no safety net. (Imagine what would happen during a period of surplus labour, for example.) In fact, Objectivism would rather let you die; if you're not economically useful, you would be better got rid of. Humans can't live like that.

In fact, it's rather telling that all the Great Figures of her perfect society in Atlas Shrugged are more alien than some of the best SF aliens. All the interesting people are the villains. The only --- the only --- person I could identify with is Jim Taggart, Dagny's brother, who is unable to pull his life out of the mire and ends up spiralling down with the rest of the contrived, doomed society.

I won't deny it has its moments. The image of the doomed train heading down the tunnel, the only worthwhile person on board running for safety, is extremely powerful (and rather telling in that it demonstrates Rand's disregard for 'unproductive' human life). The random beggars wandering around saying, "Who is John Galt?" And I won't deny it's been influential, and I will agree that it's a must-read for anyone into economics. But for gods' sake don't take it at its face values. Think about it. It does not make sense.

(And if you liked it, you need to read the potted synopsis of an oddly similar book called 'Prometheus Bowed' [more or less, memory lapse] in the Illuminatus books...)

A Canticle for Leibowitz (2)

Christopher Cashell (2517) | more than 12 years ago | (#4007296)

This isn't a a novel that would fit into a strict definition of dystopia, but if you enjoy that genre, you'll almost certainly love this book.

A Canticle for Leibowitz, by Walter M. Miller Jr., is a simply amazing and excellent book. I'm firmly of the opinion that everyone should read this book before they're allowed to graduate High School.

PKD (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#4007300)

Philip K. Dick: The Man In The High Castle (1962)

Don't forget Vonnegut (1)

Asacarny (244586) | more than 12 years ago | (#4007311)

Try _Cat's Cradle_, which has a wondefully bleak view of the future. However, it's not exactly a "dystopia novel" like _1984_. Just read it, it'll be good for you.

Childhood's End (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#4007319)

Arthur C. Clarke's Childhood's End is nice, if you'd like a sci-fi novel where the humans don't come out winners.

I know this book has been mentioned before (3, Informative)

Treeluvinhippy (545814) | more than 12 years ago | (#4007326)

However "We" probably has the most depressing ending I have ever read. IMHO I would rather do the starving rat in a cage straped to your face thing from "1984" then what D-503 went through at the end of that novel.

The book has a history in the real world. The author Yevgeny Zamyatin was a supporter of the Bolshevik Revolution of 1905 and actually served some time in prison. (Historical note this was a different uprising then the more famous 1917 revolt that lead to the Soviet Union.)

As time passed he became disillusioned and wrote "WE" as an anti-communist story. Throughout the twenties Zamyatin was hounded by his peers for not playing follow the literary leader (not writing propaganda). Zamyatin was allowed much to his surprise to leave Russia in 1931 and settled in Paris. Untill his death in '37 he remained an outspoken critic of the Soviet System.

"We" has the advantage of being written with the perspective of someone who actualy helped in a small way bring about, lived during the founding of and later renounce a real world negative utopia.

Historical sidenote (1)

GreenGhost (126676) | more than 12 years ago | (#4008525)

The 1905 incident wasn't Bolshevik - the Bolsheviks hadn't even split from the Mensheviks at that point. The Russian socialists were only marginally involved in 1905. It is historically known as "Bloody Sunday," when tsarist troops fired upon thousands of peaceful, unarmed protestors. It essentially marked when the Russian people really started hating Nicholas II, even though he had nothing to do with the incident.

Re:Historical sidenote (1)

DEBEDb (456706) | more than 12 years ago | (#4008552)

It essentially marked when the Russian people really started hating Nicholas II, even though he had nothing to do with the incident.

Perhaps not "even though", but "because"
he had nothing to do with much of anything.

Re:Historical sidenote (1)

Treeluvinhippy (545814) | more than 12 years ago | (#4008715)

I stand corrected.

Stephen Baxter! (2)

Emil Brink (69213) | more than 12 years ago | (#4007345)

If you're into SF, then I simply have to recommend Stephen Baxter. I can't recall any of his books that doesn't involve, oh, the universe coming to an end in some spectacular way. He's a good writer, imo, but the crushing dystopicality (heh) of his novels often gets to me. For a place to start reading Baxter, check out the beginning of his Xeelee sequence, Raft [] . Which, I see, is out of print. Hm. Typical.

A few more books... (1)

scotfl (312954) | more than 12 years ago | (#4007355)

Island, Ape and Essence, and, actually, most of Aldous Huxley's works.

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley.

The Third Man by Graham Green.

The Castle, The Metamorphosis, and, again, the majority of Franz Kafka's Work.

Depending on your Politics and Economics, the works of Ayn Rand [] might be the most depressing stuff you've ever read.

Oh, and let's not forget Hamlet, Macbeth and the rest of the Shakespearean Tragedies.

Heart of Darkness (2)

noz (253073) | more than 12 years ago | (#4007359)

Check out Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad. Base behaviour, tribalism, murder. Excellent stuff. :) Very thematic which is common in works of dystopia.

Re:Heart of Darkness (1)

Hast (24833) | more than 12 years ago | (#4009666)

Which is the book Coppola based his movie "Apocalypse Now" on. But they're not very similar other than the underlying theme. (HoD takes place in Africa during the colonialization, Apocalypse in Vietnam during the war.)

Novalisation (2)

ThePilgrim (456341) | more than 12 years ago | (#4007378)

Can you get a Novalisation of Terry Gillans film Brazill

Here's a classic one... (1)

Adrian Voinea (216087) | more than 12 years ago | (#4007386)

Life sucks and then you die.

Michel Houellebecq (1)

MrHanky (141717) | more than 12 years ago | (#4007390)

Atomised [] (or The Elemementary Particles) by Michel Houellebecq could definately be called a dystopia, allthough it's setting is mostly France in the last 30 years.

Apparently, some people hate the book: it's cynical, dark, cold, immoral, pornographic; it criticizes the freedoms won during the seventies and at the same time it's quite touching. I recommend it.

Neuromancer -- or any other William Gibson novel (1)

Shalome (566988) | more than 12 years ago | (#4007400)

I can't believe no one mentioned the dystopian sci-fi/cyberpunk novels written by William Gibson, the man who coined the terms "microsoft" and "cyberspace!" Sheesh, Neuromancer only won the holy trinity of science fiction writing: the Hugo Award, the Nebula Award, and the Philip K. Dick Award. READ IT! I mean, come on, there's computers, sex, AND violence! Books I reccomend by William Gibson, in this order: Neuromancer, Burning Chrome, Count Zero, Mona Lisa Overdrive, Virtual Light

Here are a couple (2)

Paul Lamere (21149) | more than 12 years ago | (#4007434)

The Giver [] by Lois Lowry

Also ....

Handmaids Tail by Margaret Atwood

some favourites (1)

MaxQuordlepleen (236397) | more than 12 years ago | (#4007526)

Thomas Disch, 334

Tim Powers, Dinner at Deviant's Palace

David Brin, The Postman

Try them you'll like them.

Re:some favourites (1)

Mr. Slippery (47854) | more than 12 years ago | (#4007996)

David Brin, The Postman

Just want to emphasise that the book is nothing like the travesty of a film that claims to be based on it. I don't know that it's dystopian - it's post-apocolyptic, but ultimately it's hopeful.

Re:some favourites (2)

unitron (5733) | more than 12 years ago | (#4008590)

Anything by Tim Powers is worth reading.

A few (1)

return 42 (459012) | more than 12 years ago | (#4007529)

James Morrow, This is the Way the World Ends - post-nuclear holocaust.

Ayn Rand, We the Living - early Soviet Union, by someone who lived there.

Those are novels, as requested. Also:

THX 1138 - film by George Lucas.

House of Stairs - play by William Sleator.

I won't start listing short stories, I'd be doing it all day :)

Flowers for Algernon (1)

anon mouse-cow-aard (443646) | more than 12 years ago | (#4007560)

Does any story where the hero loses count?
If so, this one is great, was a movie in the a few
decades ago ("Charlie")

It is all the more depressing because, it's clear
that if we get close to those technologies, there
will inevitably be people like him.

I was going to add Clockwork Orange but somebody
beat me to it. Thing is, different editions apparently
have different endings (ie. one based on the movie.)
In the original, he is unreformed at the end.

Make Room, Make Room (2)

Matt_Bennett (79107) | more than 12 years ago | (#4007673)

"Make Room, Make Room" by Harry Harrison, the book that the movie "Soylent Green" was (loosely) based on, is incredibly dystopic- overpopulation, overcrowding, energy shortages, food shortages, food riots, a huge disparity between the rich and the poor. Pretty depressing.

The beginning of the "Cities in Flight" novels by James Blish are pretty dystopic- life on earth gets so bad, they just take the cities and fly away...

Anything by Mick Faren (1)

grattwood (533456) | more than 12 years ago | (#4007675)

Ever one of his books (Sci-Fi) that I've read is distopian.

The Feelies - distopian cyberpunk
Mars The Red Planet - distopian Space Cowboy
Their Masters War - ok, not quite so distopian
The Last Stand of the DNA Cowboys - Far future distopian
The Armageddon Crazy - USA in a distopian theocracy

Mind you I've kind of been bored by distopian lit. latly, most of the recent stuff has been unorigional IMHO.

I can't beleive no one's mentioning these... (1)

JimMcCusker (27543) | more than 12 years ago | (#4007706)

Farenheit 451, by Ray Bradbury. A future where all books are banned, TV is king, religion is "Jesus and Friends," houses are fireproof, and firemen set fire to houses with books in them.

Island, by Aldous Huxley. A lesser-known novel, about a Buddhist utopia that is disrupted when oil reserve are found on it. The king is western-educated, and thinks this is a great chance to get his people up to speed with the real world. Not strictly dystopian, but shows how fragile a real utopia would be.

Childhood's End, by Arthur C. Clarke. Be sure to get the 50's edition, as the "update" is terrible. Alien overlords come to Earth and end war, injustice, and poverty through sheer power (nuclear weapons fall like duds). For years, they don't show themselves. Why?

Martian Chronicles, by Ray Bradbury. When you read it in middle school, you probably missed the dystopian connotations, but they're there. Specifically refer to "The House of Usher" chapter.

Re:I can't beleive no one's mentioning these... (2)

AJWM (19027) | more than 12 years ago | (#4009061)

Childhood's End, by Arthur C. Clarke.

Concur. I generally enjoy Clarke's stuff, but I remember the first time I read Childhood's End, as a young teenager, that I threw the book across the room in disgust at the ending. Might have been the heavy influence of John W. Campbell (Analog magazine) I was under at the time.

E.M. Forester -- Machine Stops (1)

snerdy (444659) | more than 12 years ago | (#4007730)

This story should be standard reading for the whole /. community. Forester is generally known for seemily "fluffier" works like "Howard's End" or "A Room With A View." "Machine Stops," though, is an extraordinary work of hard sci-fi -- for instance, it is the first mention in literature of anything resembling a television and his description of how people interact through the machine in question is spot on for our current computer saturated first-world existence.

Put it on your "machine" (computer or PDA) for a hardy sardonic twist: g/machin estops.html


Ayn Rand (1)

Isao (153092) | more than 12 years ago | (#4007803)

Try "Atlas Shrugged" or "The Fountainhead".

War With the Newts by Karel Capek (1)

spaceling (521125) | more than 12 years ago | (#4007854)

Karel Capek's novel: War With the Newts. (By the same writer who coined the word "robot" in his play "RUR" (Rossum's Universal Robots)). Icredible pre-WWII dystopia!

Two More (1)

Bruce Hollebone (22155) | more than 12 years ago | (#4007906)


Life under a modern Ghengis Khan:
Arslan, M. J. Engh
Ragnarok in paradise:
Lord of the Flies, W. Golding

Re:Two More (2)

unitron (5733) | more than 12 years ago | (#4008622)

Of all the books that I've read and avoided re-reading Arslan ranks right up there with Catcher in the Rye and (Ballard's) Crash.

I seem to remember the name M. J. Engh in relation to some other book that I liked, but can't remember what it was. Maybe I'm confusing that name with Dean Ing, who wrote an interesting novel/how-to about post-nuclear war survival (pulling through, muddling through, something like that).

"Riddley Walker" by Russell Hoban (1)

Sierran (155611) | more than 12 years ago | (#4007934) one of the best dystopic novels I've read...although, perhaps, it's really 'Post-apocalyptic.' I strongly recommend this book for those who ever think about the mythologies and legends our era would generate after a cataclysmic event.

A few suggestions (2)

Zeni (52928) | more than 12 years ago | (#4008103)

Death on the Installment Plan, and Journey to the End of the Night by Louis-Ferdinand D. Celine.

John Fante and Bukowski.

Jean-Paul Sartre and Albert Camus

One flew east, one flew west, (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#4008113)

One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest.

Hemmingway (2)

spencerogden (49254) | more than 12 years ago | (#4008115)

'A Farewell to Arms'. I remeber that as being on e of his more depressing, especially the end.

Uncle Tom's Cabin (2)

byoung (2340) | more than 12 years ago | (#4008238)

A classic. By Harriet Beecher Stowe.

The Road Ahead (3, Funny)

sharkey (16670) | more than 12 years ago | (#4008282)

By Bill Gates

another random few (2)

eddy the lip (20794) | more than 12 years ago | (#4008342)

334, Camp Concentration - Thomas Disch (already mentioned, but worth repeating).

A Scanner Darkly, The Man in the High Castle - Phillip K. Dick. (He wrote lots of them, but those are my two favorites). Although The Man in the High Castle is more properly alternate history...but whatever. I liked it.

J.G. Ballard - most of what he's written has been about the world falling apart in some way. Hello, America is an almost comic novel about an expedition across the fallen United States.

Dhalgren - Samual R. Delany. Beautiful, surreal, and even though it takes place in one city, sealed off from the rest of the world, huge in scope.

Stand on Zanzibar, The Sheep Look Up - John Brunner. I believe Stand on Zanzibar was one of the first books about the perils of over-population. The Sheep Look Up focuses on pollution and disease.

Anthony Burgess, Ray Bradbury (1)

mapinguari (110030) | more than 12 years ago | (#4008493)

A Clockwork Orange.
Farenheit 451.

Dystopic Novels (1)

delcabo (598321) | more than 12 years ago | (#4008579)

Just finished The Postman, by David Brin. Does "Atlas Shrugged" qualify as dystopic?

Re:Dystopic Novels (2)

unitron (5733) | more than 12 years ago | (#4008636)

No, Atlas Shrugged qualifies as a very bad comic book script.

What about the Xanth novels? (2)

MarkusQ (450076) | more than 12 years ago | (#4008610)

Have you looked into the Xanth novels [] by Piers Anthony [] ? They definitely fit the "Or any novels with a good depressing ending with no hope of a future" condition. While I wouldn't recommend them to anyone who might have unsuspected suicidal tendencies, they should be good for anyone who finds themselves too happy.

-- MarkusQ

P.S. Seriously though, what about A Canticle for Leibowitz [] ?

Re:What about the Xanth novels? (1)

kapella (3578) | more than 12 years ago | (#4009832)

I only wish there was an ending to the Xanth novels... they just keep putting out more of them!

On primary sources & predictions (1)

frAme57 (145879) | more than 12 years ago | (#4008879)

We can't forget Thomas More's Utopia as starting point when reading dystopic literature. (you say U-topia, I say dys-topia...)

For a "Bleak Future of the Wired Society Told Before the Internet Even Existed" dystopia, find a copy of E.M.Forster's short story The Machine Stops.

Orphans of the Sky by Robert Heinlein is an interesting "mystics vs. scientists and humans vs. mutants on an interstellar lifeboat from Earth" sort of tale.

And for a glimpse of an upcoming dystopia, or to do your part to help form it, just go to the Citizen Corps [] site.

Banks (2)

larien (5608) | more than 12 years ago | (#4008882)

Iain Banks seems to enjoy ending stories with most of the main character dying. For a particularly depressing read, though, try "A Song of Stone". I wouldn't recommend it much as a novel, but it is a most depressing read.

Level 7 (2)

AJWM (19027) | more than 12 years ago | (#4008965)

If you really want depressing endings, try the book "Level 7" by Mordecai Roshwald, if you can find a copy. Cold War era, written as the diary of one of the nuclear war button pushers. Very well written (at least as I remember it -- it has been literally decades since I read it.)

As one reviewer on puts it, "By the time you finish this one you'll be reaching for the extra-strength Prozac or a razor."

With folded hands (1)

aoihai (518418) | more than 12 years ago | (#4009303)

With folded Hands by Jack Williamson. Technically this is a novella, but it's about as dystopic as you can get.

"We" by Eugene Zamiatin (1)

euroderph (598144) | more than 12 years ago | (#4009318)

From 1924. A classic.

John Brunner & Bruce Sterling (2)

sysadmn (29788) | more than 12 years ago | (#4009921)

  • Stand on Zanzibar and The Sheep Look Up by Brunner.
  • Strange Weather> by Sterling.
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