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Check Out: A Dozen Top Dystopian Novels

I'm an avid reader of dystopian novels and I was asked to give a list of my favourite ones. I have read so very many of this type of book over almost 60 years, it is frankly impossible to remember them all and many are not worth remembering! However, below are a dozen of the ones I find most memorable today, some of the summaries are from Wikipedia or Goodreads with a little note added by myself:

A Canticle for Leibowitz by Walter M Miller Jr. (1959)

A post-apocalyptic social science fiction. Set in a Catholic monastery in the desert of the southwestern United States after a devastating nuclear war, the book spans thousands of years as civilisation rebuilds itself. The monks of the Albertian Order of Leibowitz preserve the surviving remnants of man's scientific knowledge until the world is again ready for it. This book very slowly introduces you to this new world through a lowly monk who does not know many things, but understands his church’s need to preserve the archives. It unfolds into a very complex world created by the mistakes of mankind in the middle of the 20th century.

[Much of what it says is very prescient, but mostly it is great world building and lovely writing.]

Mockingbird by Walter Tevis (1980)

Mockingbird is a powerful novel of a future world where humans are dying. Those that survive spend their days in a narcotic bliss or choose a quick suicide rather than slow extinction. Humanity's salvation rests with an android who has no desire to live, and a man and a woman who must discover love, hope, and dreams of a world reborn.

[oh, and all humans have forgotten how to read]

No Blade of Grass by John Christopher (1956)

The Death of Grass (published in the United States both in book form, and serialised in The Saturday Evening Post, as No Blade of Grass) is a 1956 post-apocalyptic science fiction novel written by the English author Sam Youd under the pen name John Christopher. The plot concerns a virus that kills off all forms of grass, including rice and wheat. Its publication in The Saturday Evening Post provoked considerable reaction amongst its readers on account of its portrayal of government's response to the unfolding worldwide crisis. The Death of Grass was the first of several post-apocalyptic novels written by Christopher.

{This was probably the first dystopian novel I ever read and it had a rather profound effect on me as a young teen. Therefore, it may not be as good as I remember}

American War by Omar El Akkad 2017

An audacious and powerful debut novel: a second American Civil War, a devastating plague, and one family caught deep in the middle a story that asks what might happen if America were to turn its most devastating policies and deadly weapons upon itself.

Sarat Chestnut, born in Louisiana, is only six when the Second American Civil War breaks out in 2074. But even she knows that oil is outlawed, that Louisiana is half underwater, and that unmanned drones fill the sky. When her father is killed and her family is forced into Camp Patience for displaced persons, she begins to grow up shaped by her particular time and place. But not everyone at Camp Patience is who they claim to be. Eventually Sarat is befriended by a mysterious functionary, under whose influence she is turned into a deadly instrument of war. The decisions that she makes will have tremendous consequences not just for Sarat but for her family and her country, rippling through generations of strangers and kin alike.

[This book flips the standard US way of interfering in the governments of people of colour. A very good way to see the world in a different way. And it is a rocking good story as well!]

World Made by Hand by James Howard Kunstler (2008)

A captivating, utterly realistic novel, World Made by Hand takes speculative fiction beyond the apocalypse and shows what happens when life gets extremely local. Set in the fictional town of Union Grove, New York, the novel follows a cast of characters as they navigate a world stripped of its modern comforts, ravaged by terrorism, epidemics, and the economic upheaval of peak oil, all of which are exacerbated by global warming.

[This book is a squishy masculine liberal fantasy of what happens after society collapses and it has many flaws. What I like about it is the completeness of the world and how he e