I was trying to understand why I love dystopias so much. I’ve come to the conclusion that they speak to me in a way that I can’t find in any other genre – or sub-genre. They dig deep into the subconscious need for freedom; the enslavement that is not recognizable in its present – realistic – form. I like dystopias because they force you to define your lack of freedom, to reveal the mock democracy you live in. Wow, huh? Sounds deep enough?
Anyway, one of the books I was supposed to “must” read was 1984 (1949). I really delayed though, cause I was afraid I would be disappointed after all the things I’ve been hearing about it. I read some reviews and found out that Orwell’s work was influenced by the work of Yevgeny Zamyatin, We (1921) and Ayn Rand’s Anthem (1936). I don’t know if this is true, but I did read the Anthem.
The Anthem is a dystopian novella, which analyses the collective conscience of the human species in an unspecified future. An extreme socialistic view of humanity? Maybe. But it does raise some questions about individuality that we see often enough in dystopias. The use of “we” is almost frightening, and the discovery of “I” almost cathartic.
This is the theme that transcends almost every dystopia I have ever read: The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood, The Dispossessed by Ursula K. Le Guin, 1984 by George Orwell, The Gate to Women’s Country by Sheri S. Tepper. All these books deserve their own post as they are amazing! I wholeheartedly recommend them to everyone – not just sci-fi enthusiasts.
I will return to this for a more concise list, and perhaps a reference to the utopian novels (which I believe are a myth).