Photo: Pablo Garcia Saldaña
What happens when a society’s desire to improve is taken to the extreme–and individuality is replaced by conformity? These classic dystopian novels pose the question and let you be the judge.
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Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley
In this dystopian masterpiece, control begins in the embryonic stage. These genetically modified people remain complacent through uninhibited sexual pleasure, causing society to lose all notions of art, ethics, and nonconformity.
Out on Blue Six, by Ian McDonald
This bizarre society uses genetic predispositions and aptitudes to dictate citizens’ lives–down to jobs, friends, and spouses. Happiness is the most cherished value, and the Ministry of Pain swiftly prosecutes anyone who interferes with the contentment of another. In this self-contained city,
cartoonist-turned-dissident Courtney Hall embarks on a thrilling ride of free will and self-determination.
The Giver, by Lois Lowry
Through “Sameness,” there is no pain or suffering. Emotional depth and memory are erased. At age 12, Jonas is given his life assignment: He is to take over as Receiver of Memory. As he becomes exposed to all the emotions and experiences his society seeks to hide from its citizens, he questions everything he has ever known.
1984, by George Orwell
The term “Big Brother is watching you” was coined in George Orwell’s 1949 novel depicting the then-future. The citizens are subjected to a totalitarian government that fills its inhabitants with propaganda and rewrites history to conform to the current version of the truth.
We, by Yevgeny Zamyatin
Dubbed George’s Orwell’s inspiration for 1984, We describes OneState, a totalitarian society ruled by the omnipotent, omnipresent Benefactor. Though everyone is happy in a vacuous way, in Zamyatin’s thought-provoking creation there are no individuals, just numbers.
City of Truth, by James Morrow
Honesty is paramount in Veritas, candor is the norm. Everyone undergoes a Skinnerean process called “brainburn” to force them to tell the truth. But when Jack Sperry’s son becomes ill, Jack must overcome his ruthless conditioning to save his child.
The Handmaid’s Tale, by Margaret Atwood
The Republic of Gilead has taken over the United States—its primary goals are child-bearing and war. Women are oppressed and dehumanized once more, no longer allowed to read or choose lives of their own in this new world. Offred, a handmaid to the Commander and his wife, seeks to stop the oppression.