By Tom Ashbrook
Dystopian fiction is having a heyday. We’ll look at the dystopian plots and perils that publishers love right now.
Check out the new fiction coming from publishers these days and it may scare you to pieces. Not horror scare exactly, but dystopia. Dystopian fiction is all over the place now. Books of the future gone horribly wrong. A new civil war in America. Crazy microbes on the loose. The planet a mess. Democracy done. Insane inequality. Killer drones all over. Walls and fences and people fleeing Earth if they can. Great. This hour On Point, we’re armoring up to look at the new wave of dystopian fiction.
- Christopher Robichaud, professor of ethics and public policy at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. (@cjrobichaud)
- David Higgins, speculative fiction editor for the Los Angeles Review of Books. Professor of English at Inver Hills Community College. (@canidaevulpes)
Dystopian Dreams: How Feminist Science Fiction Predicted The Future
The Guardian (3/25/17)
Where does the story of feminist science fiction begin? There are so many possible starting points: Margaret Cavendish’s 1666 book The Blazing World, about an empress of a utopian kingdom; one could point convincingly to Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein as an exploration of how men could “give birth” and what might happen if they did; one could recall the 1905 story “Sultana’s Dream” by Begum Rokeya, about a gender-reversed India in which it’s the men who are kept in purdah.
And perhaps one of the starting points was here: on 29 August 1911, a 50-year-old man, a member of the Yahi group of the Native American Yana people, walked out of the forest near Oroville, California, and was captured by the local sheriff. He was known at the time and popularised in the press as “the last wild Indian”. …
‘Handmaid’s Tale’ Waitlists Surge In Libraries Across America
As reproductive rights continue to come under threat, readers flock to Margaret Atwood’s dystopian warning.
By Katherine Brooks
The Huffington Post (4/10/17)
If you had casual plans to check out a copy of Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale from your local library, we have some bad news: The waitlists are almost as daunting as the author’s dystopian vision for the future.
Hundreds of Handmaid’s Tale fans in New York City are waiting to get their hands on Atwood’s novel, soon to hit Hulu as an adapted TV series starring Elizabeth Moss, Samira Wiley, Joseph Fiennes and Alexis Bledel, according to a recent report from Patch verified by The Huffington Post.
“[Atwood] reveals to us the dark corners behind the establishment’s calm facade, as certain tendencies now in existence are carried to their logical conclusions.”
In February, readers placed 183 holds on 64 copies of the book at the New York Public Library alone. By March, the NYPL added 32 more copies of the book into circulation, and the number of holds jumped to 534.
“As of today, there are currently 546 holds on 96 copies of The Handmaid’s Tale,” a NYPL representative told HuffPost on Monday. “For background, according to our online catalog, there aren’t other dystopian titles with the same level of checkouts or holds.”
The NYPL isn’t the only public library experiencing a surge in demand for The Handmaid’s Tale, which recently rocketed to the top of Amazon’s best-seller list. According to the Chicago Public Library’s website, there seem to be four of 160 paperback copies of the book available to check out, though there are currently 63 holds on six other copies and 318 holds on 81 available ebooks. The San Francisco Public Library presents a similar backlog; there are 101 holds on 54 physical copies and 283 holds on 65 ebooks. The Houston Public Library boasts zero available physical copies.
Demand for the book shouldn’t take anyone by surprise. Atwood’s 1985 novel is set in a near-future, totalitarian U.S. civilization called the Republic of Gilead, which is built on Christian fundamentalist values and fixated on the declining birthrate of its population. …
- The New Yorker – Margaret Atwood: The Prophet Of Dystopia: …[Margaret] Atwood has long been Canada’s most famous writer, and current events have polished the oracular sheen of her reputation. With the election of an American President whose campaign trafficked openly in the deprecation of women—and who, on his first working day in office, signed an executive order withdrawing federal funds from overseas women’s-health organizations that offer abortion services—the novel that Atwood dedicated to Mary Webster has reappeared on best-seller lists. “The Handmaid’s Tale” is also about to be serialized on television, in an adaptation, starring Elisabeth Moss, that will stream on Hulu. The timing could not be more fortuitous, though many people may wish that it were less so. In a photograph taken the day after the Inauguration, at the Women’s March on Washington, a protester held a sign bearing a slogan that spoke to the moment: “make margaret atwood fiction again.” … Read the Rest
Now More Than Ever: The Lessons Of George Orwell’s ‘1984’
Empire Files (2/1/17)
Their are very few literary masterpieces that can transcend generations. There are even fewer that serve as a blueprint for the future. One of those books is 1984, one of the most prolific novels of our time. The author was born Eric Arthur Blair, but was probably most know by his pen name, George Orwell. George Orwell was one of the greatest visionaries of the twentieth century who identified himself as a democratic socialist. Under the Soviet Union he was forced to flee under communism suppression of socialist dissidents.
In 1945 he wrote Animal Farm, a novel anthropomorphizing the animal kingdom, meant to serve as a metaphor for Stalin’s betrayal of the Russian Revolution. Soon after, Orwell wrote his most famous book of all time, 1984, which portrayed a terrifying future of a total surveillance and police state. Tragically, just one year after it published, Orwell died of tuberculosis at the unforgivably young age of 46.
Nineteen Eighty-Four, often published as 1984, is, in summary, a dystopian novel, set in Airstrip One (formerly known as Great Britain), a province of the superstate Oceania in a world of perpetual war, omnipresent government surveillance, and public manipulation. The superstate and its residents are dictated to by a political regime euphemistically named English Socialism, shortened to “Ingsoc” in Newspeak, the government’s invented language. The superstate is under the control of the privileged elite of the Inner Party, a party and government that persecutes individualism and independent thinking as “thoughtcrime”, which is enforced by the “Thought Police”. …