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No.215

ITT: We discuss dystopian themes in literature and life; discussion and sharing of favorite dystopian works

Dystopia:
A dystopia (from the Greek δυσ- and τόπος, alternatively, cacotopia, kakotopia, or simply anti-utopia) is a community or society that is undesirable or frightening...Dystopias are often characterized by dehumanization, totalitarian governments, environmental disaster, or other characteristics associated with a cataclysmic decline in society.

I don't think it's a stretch to assume that many readers on this board are fans of dystopian fiction. Most, though not all, works of cyberpunk - and to a lesser extent, much sci-fi - literature are inherently dystopian.

Examples of simplified, broad tropes in cyberpunk:
usage of the digital world/VR as an alternative to the real world; the digital noosphere as an escape
using the digital world/VR/technology to combat the antagonists, which are often the institutions that have contributed heavily to the forces that have made the real world dystopian
class struggle, often due to or exacerbated by the use of technology (or lack thereof); alternatively, class struggle between AI and humans or aliens and humans

The thing that really draws me to reading dystopian fiction is that it often scares me for a number of reasons. The primary reason is that it's often easy to find more congruence between fictional dystopias and the state of the world today. Similarly, some of my favorite works don't have to incorporate something humanity has not yet experienced to arrive at a dystopian future: they just need to give current trends a little time. (Pic related is my favorite example of this.)

Secondly, I enjoy exploring takes on the human condition as a reaction to living in a dystopian world. (Again, Atwood is very good at this, and the two most famous dystopian novels - 1984 and Brave New World - have the humanity of their characters as a major area of focus.) One of my favorite examples of this is the novel World War Z (let's just all pretend the movie never happened.) What I really enjoyed about the novel is that the zombie apocalypse is a vehicle for Brooks to explore the reaction humanity has to the apocalypse, Studs Terkel style.

In these ways, dystopian fiction can be extremely prescient (ie, 1984 and BNW are increasing applicable every day.) It can serve as a warning.

I personally hold the books pictured as my favorite dystopian story. Apparently, Atwood is not everyone's cup of tea, and depending on your beliefs, I can understand that. However, I really adore this series - though the first book is an order of magnitude better than the two sequels - because Atwood didn't need to invent something new or take any real creative liberties to create this dystopia. Everything that's dystopian in this series is just current trends iterated further down the pattern.

Similarly, for similar reasons (and to incorporate more forms of fiction) I want to give a shoutout to the Metal Gear Solid series. Metal Gear Solid 2, for example, predicted something very similar to the current state of memetics, both in the saturation of memes (many of them junk or regressive) and the agencies that create context and act as gatekeepers (Google, Facebook, and CIA/DOD tendrils, i.e Minerva Institute, In-Q-Tel, ATAP/ Building8, various thinktanks and media institutions at the very least influenced, if not controlled, by the CIA/DOD/abc's). The paramilitary warfare of Metal Gear Solid 4 only seems to be increasing in likelihood every day.

Why do you enjoy dystopian fiction, lain? What are some of your favorite works?

  No.216

Which cyberpunk books would you recommend me, Lain?

I did not enjoy Neuromancer in the least, while the world was very interesting, the characters weren't, i did not care what would happen to Case or Molly, they seemed like generic characters from a B movie and it was very tiresome to read about them. The only character i liked in the whole book was the Finn. After that i don't remember reading any other cyberpunk books, any recommendations are welcome.

  No.221

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Hey OP, I liked those books too, I agree that the stories often times hint at a possible frightening future, its interesting since atwood basically described what could hapen if political deregulation paired with genetic modification became so commonplace that one rogue scientist could end it all. With influences such as childhoods spent in the wired. Another genre of sci-fi that I enjoy would be what I would call Post-Dystopian, mainly because it deals with what happens when there is no longer a distopian society. On the level of the human condition, this can be darker stories like "the road" but on the sci-fi side, I would include short stories such as "the machine stops" "I have no mouth and I must scream" and ayn rands "anthem" which deal with the total loss or rebuilding of mankind after it got screwed up by being too techy, sortof like lessons learned on how to not screw up our reliance on the wired.

And to you bloodcat, I would recomend Heinlein, If you like military stories, starship troopers (deals with the nature of service and drive, both personal and as a society), If not, look at "beyond this horizon," which deals with a society where data analysis dictates the direction for humanity.

Also there was a book that I read years ago, I cannot for the life of me remember the name, the scene was people connected into the internet directly, and basically all human interaction was supplemented by it, which caused the internet to gain awareness. The way the internet was accessed was by what could best be described as AR/VR and the protagonist visualized the internet as a sea (of data) and the more intelligent you were, the better you could access the internet. Does anybody know the name of this book?

  No.224

>>215
Well, the big ones are 1984, Fahrenheit 451, and Brave New World, but here's a few others I enjoyed.

'Repent, Harlequin!' Said the Ticktockman, by Harlan Ellison
A Very Private Life, by Michael Frayn
The World Inside, by Robert Silverberg
Anvil of the Heart, by Bruce T. Holmes
Harrison Bergeron, by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.
Rollerball Murder, by William Harrison
Along the Scenic Route, by Harlan Ellison
Make Room! Make Room!, by Harry Harrison

And a few comics:
Grendel: God and the Devil, by Matt Wagner
Battle Angel Alita, by Yukito Kushiro
V for Vendetta, by Alan Moore
Nemesis the Warlock, by Pat Mills
Bad Boy, by Frank Miller

>>216
Apart from Neuromancer and the other Sprawl stories by Gibson,

Snow Crash, by Neal Stephenson
Hardwired, by Walter Jon Williams
Market Forces, by Richard Morgan
Little Heroes, by Norman Spinrad
Fairyland, by Paul J. McAuley

And comics:
Transmetropolitan, by Warren Ellis
Appleseed, and Ghost in the Shell, by Masamune Shirow
Frame 137, by James O'Barr
Battle Angel Alita, by Yukito Kushiro (again. If you'd asked for post-apocalyptic stories I'd have put it three times, lol)
Ronin, by Frank Miller
Akira, by Katsuhiro Otomo

  No.236

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Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro for me is the pinnacle of the genre. Even describing the basic premise of the book is a massive spoiler so I really don't know how much more I should say. But I guess I'll just add that I've read this book both as a young teen and much later as an adult and I found myself loving it even more as an adult despite how horribly depressing it is.

  No.246

>>236
I have owned this book for a few years, and never gotten around to it because I've unanimously heard it's one of the most devastating books people have ever read.
It may very well remain there a little longer; if I'm gonna continue reading and living sad fiction, I should probably make sure there's some hearty Russian lit in there.

>>224
This is a good and comprehensive list.
Adding "I Have No Mouth And I Must Scream" to your Ellison suggestions - this is one of the great works of AI induced dystopia; Ellison is an amazing writer.
The short story is well worth reading, and there's a great point and click DOS game, but this audiobook of Ellison reading the story is by far the most disturbing rendition of this horrifying story.
(WARNING: brief interlude of noise significantly louder than speech at 1:40)

Also, 2BR02B is another short story by Vonnegut set in a dystopian future.

I appreciate all of these recommendations, lainons!
>>236
I have had this book for several years but have always put off reading it, because I consistently heard that it's one of the most devastating stories people have read. I'd like to read, but I think I'll have to make a stop at some Russian lit before reading/living any more depression fiction.

  No.256

>>224
Oh, I forgot The Lottery, by Shirley Jackson.
It's become a bit of a lit class staple, but it's still good, lol.