Within the dystopian literature is a world of different sub-genres, and one of the most popular in the list is science fiction or sci-fi.
Dystopian sci-fi books are simply creative writings, which plots gyrate throughout a futuristic anti-utopian, or terrible backdrop setting. In its actual existence, dystopian sci-fi stories usually comprise of elements of utopian society like immense and comprehensive community control.
However, the measures of restrains get taken to the extreme. Generally, dystopian stories address issues concerning politics, such as suppression of the citizens’ movements or rights.
Yet, dystopian with sci-fi as its sub-genre doesn’t necessarily mean that it is about predicting the future, but careful examination and understanding of fear and what could happen when fear eats you up.
At this point, you might be wondering what dystopian sci-fi novels I can recommend to you that are worth reading. So, I’ve come up with a list of a few of them.
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This dystopian sci-fi book of Philip K. Dick is among my top 100 list, and there’s a reason why I love recommending this novel to you.
Dick’s book inspires the run of the “Blade Runner” series, and among many other adaptations, such as in radio, comic, theatre, and film. Receiving almost half a million ratings from the readers, “Do Androids Dream of Electronic Sheep,” is also an award-winning literary work.
It centres in a post-apocalyptic world of what was San Francisco city. Everything on earth got significantly destroyed after a global nuclear war broke out, leaving the majority of the animals extinct.
The story follows the journey of a bounty hunter tasked in retiring, which could also mean killing escaped androids, and on another side of the plot, the runaway droids get help from a subpar IQ man.
Bounty hunter Rick Deckard gets assigned by the “San Francisco Police Department” to kill six fugitive androids of highly intelligent and newly innovated models of Nexus-6 that recently runaway from Mars and found refuge on Earth.
These androids look and have similar organic matter like humans. The only way to know that they’re the runaway droids from Mars is through an analysis of their bone marrow structure. Hence, it is quite hard to detect or recognize them in the process.
Deckard, on his quest to find these androids on earth, he hopes that he can earn more bounty money, so he can buy a live animal to replace his one and only electric sheep. While at it, he pays the headquarter of “Rosen Association” in Seattle a visit.
His purpose is to confirm the accuracy of the latest empathy test in identifying disguised androids. But he suspects that the test may be inaccurate in determining the latest models of Nexus-6 from the humans because it shows an incorrect positive result on his host in Seattle, named Rachael Rosen.
In other words, the police have been executing humans due to the wrong results made by the association. In hopes that Deckard will drop the case against Rachael, the association blackmails him. However, the bounty hunter retests Rachael and learns that she’s an android, which she also confirms.
Along with Deckard’s pursuit of the android renegades, he falls in love with Rachael that will turn things around.
Genre – Dystopian Literature
Pages – 244 pages
Goodreads rating – 4.09/5
My rating – 9.37/10
Second on my list is David Mitchell’s literary piece, “Cloud Atlas,” which encompasses genres from fictional fantasy to dystopian science fiction.
Mitchell played around six intertwined nested plots that will take you to the distant South Pacific during the 19th century and towards the faraway post-apocalyptic future Hawaii Island. It tackles the changing landscapes, as referred to as its title “cloud,” over appearances of stationary human nature, referred to as the book’s namesake the “atlas.”
It also discusses the universal nature of humans and reincarnation. This award-winning work of Mitchell caught several adaptations, including one blockbuster hit film that starred Tom Hanks and Halle Berry.
Each of the six intertwined nested plots is read or get observed by a primary character of the following plot or story. Henceforth, the story progresses throughout the sixth plot as its focal point, while each of the first five stories gets disrupted at a crucial stage.
The plot starts in 1850 with the straightforward lawyer Adam Ewing sailing from the Chatham Isles to California home.
Along with his journey, he builds a friendship with Dr Goose while treating his rare brain parasite. Shortly, the storyline moves over to Belgium in the year 1931 with disowned bisexual composer Robert Frobisher.
He orchestrates his way into a frail maestro’s household, who has an attractive wife and a marriageable daughter. From there, the story leaps during the 1970s to the West Coast, where disturbed reporter Luisa Rey discovers a world of murder and money-grabbing corporates that puts her life in danger.
Going onwards to brilliant spectacles, then to England’s terrible present-day. Moving to Korea’s futuristic dystopian superstate, where neo-capitalism has gone berserk, or out of control, and to Hawaii’s post-apocalyptic Iron Age world during the last days of history.
Genre – Dystopian Literature
Pages – 509 pages
Goodreads rating – 4.02/5
My rating – 8.73/10
Included to my list of dystopian sci-fi book is “The Time Machine” by H.G. Wells, which is a frame story or a story within a story.
From its title, the storyline is happening in the present while moving back and forth in a particular phase of time through a machine that allows anyone or a traveller to do so. It permits you to go back or visit the future for intended purposes.
Due to its thrilling adventure, the book caught the attention of various production companies, including a box-office hit film.
In the year 1899, Columbia University professor and inventor Dr Alexander Hartdegen is a dedicated person, who prefers to conduct pure research in the business world, which is contrary to his friend David Philby. During this time, his fiancée, Emma, gets murdered by a burglar.
Over time, Dr Hartdegen dedicates his life in building a machine that will allow him to travel back in time before Emma gets killed in a quest to save her, which he completed in 1903.
When he travels back to the year before the day of the murder, instead of saving her, she got killed again when the horses of the horse-drawn vehicle got scared by the horseless carriage. The incident makes him realise that any attempt to save her fiancée from getting killed will only result in her demise in other ways. Upset, he travels to the future in the year 2030 to find out how he can change the past. Along with his search for answers, he consecutively goes back and forth, revealing more incidents and events in the process.
Genre – Dystopian Literature
Pages – 118 pages
Goodreads rating – 3.89/5
My rating – 9.46/10
A Margaret Atwood literary work, “Oryx and Crake,” involves a wide-ranging genre in a plot from dystopian science fiction to adventure romance.
It narrates a fictional world of dystopia where it tracks the journey of its only character named Snowman. He finds himself in a bad or dreary situation wherein Crakers are the sole creatures keeping him company.
Atwood brings the readers to the Snowman’s past life, as a boy named Jimmy. It also traces back the creations of Crakers. These are the creatures created under the influence of Jimmy’s friend named Glenn or Crake that came about through a series of pharmaceutical engineering procedures and genetic experimentation methods.
It centres the adventure of a lone main character named Snowman living in a post-apocalyptic society nearby a group of prehistoric human-like beings called Crakers.
Through flashbacks, the story reveals that Snowman was once a young boy whose name was Jimmy. He grew up in a society where multinational corporations dominate the community, and employees of these huge businesses are in privileged compounds.
Despite the underlying danger that is waiting for him, Snowman bravely makes a decision. He needs to return to the ruins of the privileged compound as he’s almost out of stock. Genetically engineered half-breed creatures are occupying the place.
With that, Snowman plots an explanation to the Crakers, as they regard him as their teacher, and from there, his gripping adventure in search for food starts, including remembering the mysterious woman he and Crake loved, and the beautiful story of their friendship and the creation of Crakers.
Genre – Dystopian Literature
Pages – 389 pages
Goodreads rating – 4.01/5
My rating – 9.40/10
Another engrossing dystopian sci-fi novel that’s part of my top 100 list is a classic piece from the author Walter M. Miller Jr. called “A Canticle for Leibowitz,” which backdrops a post-apocalyptic setting of the United States.
With its mission to preserve the surviving remnants or remains of mankind’s scientific knowledge until men are ready again, the monks belonging to the “Albertian Order of Leibowitz” acknowledge the responsibility of keeping and taking care of the relics in their Catholic monastery in the deserted southwestern part of the ruins of America after the world becomes a devastating wasteland due to the nuclear war.
Miller’s highly recognized novel starts its opening section with his experiences in World War II, coupled with his gift in post-disaster thematic elements. The book is a patch of three sub-stories.
The story starts with a preview of what has happened in the past.
A violent reprisal called “Simplification” against technological advancement and scientific knowledge came about after what was known as the “Flame Deluge,” which refers to the global nuclear war that destroyed the civilisation during the 20th century.
During this retaliation, anyone caught reading or learning will, likely, get killed by the raging masses called the “Simpletons.” Hence, illiteracy or ignorance became universal, and books get destroyed by the crowds.
Jewish electrical engineer Isaac Edward Leibowitz, who works for the United States military, is among the surviving citizens seeking refuge in the Cistercian monastery as he evades the vicious mobs.
While in the monastery, he secretly looks for his wife as she got separated from him during the war. Unsuccessful, Leibowitz believed that his wife is already dead. Thus, he joined the monastery and took holy orders of becoming a priest.
From then on, he committed his whole life to the preservation of knowledge through hiding books to safety through “booklegging,” which is the same as bootlegging. It means that he memorises and makes a copy of the books stealthily.
Through his life inside the monastery, he created the new order called the “Albertian Order of Leibowitz,” and in due course, he got betrayed and tortured as a martyr.
Years after his death, new stories structured in three sub-stories, “Let There Be Man,” “Let There Be Light,” and “Thy Will Be Done,” with six centuries apart unfold with the anticipation of the discovery of Leibowitz’s scientific knowledge.
Genre – Dystopian Literature
Pages – 334 pages
Goodreads rating – 3.98/5
My rating – 8.79/10
Each on my list comes with different spice, thrill, and thought-provoking plots that will leave you speechless or contesting over some parts of the narratives.
“Do Androids Dream of Electronic Sheep?” gets you into the world of deception and revelation from the bounty hunter’s view with a bit of romance. “Cloud Atlas,” on the other hand, is giving you far-reaching spectrums of six entangled nested stories, bringing different tang to the ordinary plots we’ve read.
While “The Time Machine” showcases man’s intellectual power in creating advanced technological inventions, and how one’s love can bring out the best of him, the “Oryx and Crake” story talks about how one can survive, alone in a highly creature-infested world.
Lastly, “A Canticle for Leibowitz” depicts a devastated world brought by mankind’s competence in technological advancements and scientific knowledge, and how fear exposes people’s rage and terror. It tells us the striking, sad reality of how one’s lack of understanding can bring scare due to what’s unfamiliar, creating an unnecessary distraction, chaos, and hatred.
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