On the heels of my discussion on the allure of dystopia in fiction, here is my list of top ten all time best dystopian novels.
George Orwell, 1949
Orwell’s depictions of totalitarianism have elements that remain in society’s vocabulary decades later. From Big Brother to doublespeak and a host of other concepts, Orwell’s dystopian view of political corruption remains a significant work even today.
Ray Bradbury, 1953
Another early vision of dystopia, one in which books are outlawed and “firemen” burn them up when they’re found. Winner of one of only four Retro Hugo awards.
Brave New World
Aldous Huxley, 1931
The granddaddy of dystopian novels, Huxley wrote the book in response to utopian novels by H.G. Wells amidst social upheaval from war, industry, economic crises, and the perceived excesses of the Roaring Twenties.
William F. Nolan and George Clayton Johnson, 1967
Logan’s Run follows the eponymous hero who tracks down those in a society with no old people. Logan 3 is a “Sandman” chasing after those who reach the age of death trying to escape to Sanctuary. He decides to run himself as his time approaches.
Make Room! Make Room (Soylent Green)
Harry Harrison, 1966
The movie was more popular than the book, but Soylent Green explored the overuse of materials and overpopulation, with some ideas on how to control both. The movie changed much more besides the title.
The Hunger Games
Suzanne Collins, 2008
In the future nation of Panem, teens from the twelve districts annually battle to the death for a television audience. The trilogy has been adapted into a highly successful movie series.
Veronica Roth, 2011
In Chicago in the future, society is divided based on aptitude scores. Those who don’t fit neatly in a faction are more difficult to control, and are considered divergent. The first movie in the series has been highly successful.
The Maze Runner
James Dashner, 2009
Waking up with his memory wiped, the protagonist finds himself with a group of other boys in the middle of a gigantic labyrinth that changes every night and offers a host of dangers. He helps them solve the riddle of the maze before the first girl shows up.
Parable of the Sower
Octavia E. Butler, 1993
In an society leaning toward anarch , a young woman with hyperempathy develops a religion called “Earthseed.” Winner of the 1994 Nebula Award. A planned trilogy, Butler died before completing the third book in the series.
Lois Lowry, 1993
In a faux utopian society of the future, pain and turmoil are eliminated through Sameness. Somebody has to keep all the memories of the past, though, including both the good memories and the bad. All the pleasant aspects of humanities as well as all the ugliness. Winner of the 1994 Newberry Award.