Mars is not the only other world we can travel to

Cover: Lord of the FliesThey may have just landed a rover on Mars, but I’ve been travelling to other worlds since I was 13. I love travelling in particular to dystopian worlds, if only using books and movies.

Dystopian societies are repressive and controlled, often under the guise of being utopian. They feature different kinds of repressive social control and coercion. They can be found in the past, the future on our planet or another.

They have all the classic compelling aspects of all good fiction that I enjoy; good vs. evil, strong lead characters you can root for, together with a bit of technology and people rising up to save themselves, their families and their society. They can steer closely into Science Fiction territory at times, but I have always been more interested in the stories that depict human struggle and triumph rather than technology and space travel.

Of course the most recent craze in this genre would be The Hunger Games Trilogy, which I’ve read using my e reader, and while I’m enjoying it and I’m eagerly awaiting the last of the trilogy, Mockingjay, it isn’t the best I’ve read in the genre.Cover: Monsters of Men

I loved The Chaos Walking Trilogy by Patrick Ness and I also enjoyed Salt by Maurice Gee and Wither by Lauren DeStefano.

I have also gone back to read some classics that originally had me interested in this genre in my teens. First was The Crysalids by John Wyndham, then Nineteen Eighty Four, the grandfather of the dystopians by George Orwell. Then Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury and Lord of the Flies by William Golding and what was for me a pivotal book, The Handmaids Tale by Margaret Atwood. I’d also recommend her book Oryx and Crake.

There are so many dystopian books out there to read, take the plunge and get amongst them without the aid of a rover, or maybe you have a favourite you can share?

6 thoughts on “Mars is not the only other world we can travel to

  1. Helen Lowe 11 August 2012 / 10:28 am

    Another recent, very good future dystopia for YA is Paolo Bacigalupi’s “Ship Breaker” — I highly recommend it. His novel “The WindUp Girl” I would put in the “Parental Guidance” category–it’s an excellent work but contains material that some consider very disturbing.

    An older work now, but still a very good read, is David Brin’s “The Postman,” which like Cormac McCarthy’s “The Road” is also post-apocalyptic.

    In terms of future dystopias that also include specific discussion of questions around gender (although The Chrysalids, The Postman, and the Windup Girl all do to some extent as well) Sheri Tepper’s “The Gate to Women’s Country” and Vonda M McIntrye’s “Dreamsnake” are both regarded as classics.

  2. jaxjaxster 12 August 2012 / 6:10 pm

    Thanks for the recommendations… and I can’t believe I didn’t mention The Road, my all time fav dystopian novels…

  3. woahmolly 13 August 2012 / 1:50 pm

    Wool, by Hugh Howey, is a great new dystopian series. I highly recommend it.

  4. Donna 13 August 2012 / 2:28 pm

    Have a browse on the blog too seems like a few librarians are a bit enamoured of dark future reading. I’d highly recommend The Carhullan Army by Sarah Hall especially good if you like Survivors and gritty militaristic dystopias. I interviewed her at the 2008 Auckland Writers and Readers Festival

  5. lynners 17 August 2012 / 1:58 pm

    P.D. James “The children of men” – quite different from the film
    Michael Frayn “A very private life”

  6. trolleyed 16 October 2012 / 12:05 pm

    I’d second the Ship Breaker recommendation – it’s excellent. I’d also add James Dashner’s The Maze Runner, Lois Lowry’s The Giver, and Veronica Roth’s Divergent. Oh and Mary Pearson’s The Adoration of Jenna Fox. And Beth Revis’ Across The Universe is good too. I’ll stop now!

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