Listopia: Best Dystopian Novels and Books

“You may live to see man-made horrors beyond your comprehension.”
~Nikola Tesla

With The Handmaid’s Tale based on Margaret Atwood‘s novel of the same name hitting the screens, it is time to consider what other dystopian novels and stories one should read. I find dystopian novels and stories to be among my favorite genres of literature.

Lost places. Photo: MichaelGaida (CC0 Public Domain)
Lost places. Photo: MichaelGaida (CC0 Public Domain)

Why is dystopian literature so compelling? I am often thinking about this and honestly I do not have an answer to that. I find that life in general is pretty absurd to begin with, but dystopian and especially science fiction stories in general offer glimpses of an “otherhood”, adventures from the ordinary and the plain boredom. So, although dystopia often refers to gloomy visions of the future, they still offer alternatives and most of all, warning signs of how we can influence the present not to end up with dystopian societies.

Below is a compilation of several listopias, in the order of publishing.

Classics & 20th century

Dystopian. Photo: Manel Torralba (CC BY 2.0)
Dystopian. Photo: Manel Torralba (CC BY 2.0)
  • Jonathan Swift: Gulliver’s Travels (1726)
  • H.G. Wells: The Time Machine (1895)
  • Jack London: The Iron Heel (1908)
  • Yevgeny Zamyatin: We (1924)
  • Franz Kafka: The Trial (1925)
  • Aldous Huxley: Brave New World (1932)
  • Sinclair Lewis: It Can’t Happen Here (1935)
  • Ayn Rand: Anthem (1938)
  • George Orwell: Animal Farm (1945)
  • Shirley Jackson: The Lottery (1948), short story
  • George Orwell: 1984 (1949)
  • Ray Bradbury: Fahrenheit 451 (1953)
  • William Golding: Lord of the Flies (1954)
  • Richard Matheson: I Am Legend (1954)
  • Robert A. Heinlein: Tunnel in the Sky (1955)
  • John Wyndham: The Chrysalids (1955)
  • Philip K. Dick: The Minority Report (1956)
  • Ayn Rand: Atlas Shrugged (1957)
  • Nevil Shute: On the Beach (1957)
  • Kurt Vonnegut: Harrison Bergeron (1961)
  • J.G. Ballard: The Drowned World (1962)
  • Anthony Burgess: A Clockwork Orange (1962)
  • William S. Burroughs: Nova Express (1964)
  • Harry Harrison: Make Room! Make Room! (1966)
  • William F. Nolan & George Clayton Johnson: Logan’s Run (1967)
  • Philip K. Dick: Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (1968)
  • Kurt Vonnegut: Slaughterhouse-Five (1969)
  • Ursula K. Le Guin: The Lathe of Heaven (1971)
  • Philip K. Dick: Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said (1974)
  • J.G. Ballard: High-Rise (1975)
  • Stephen King: The Stand (1978)
  • Richard Bachman (aka Stephen King): The Long Walk (1979)
  • Tanith Lee: The Silver Metal Lover (1981)
  • Richard Bachman (aka Stephen King): The Running Man (1982)
  • William Gibson: Neuromancer (1984)
  • Margaret Atwood: The Handmaid’s Tale (1985)
  • Orson Scott Card: Ender’s Game (1985)
  • Alan Moore: Watchmen (1987)
  • William Gibson: Mona Lisa Overdrive (1988)
  • Alan Moore: V for Vendetta (1990)
  • Robert Harris: Fatherland (1992)
  • P.D. James: The Children of Men (1992)
  • Neal Stephenson: Snow Crash (1992)
  • Lois Lowry: The Giver (1993)
  • Neal Stephenson: The Diamond Age (1995)
  • Alix Adams: Law for Business Students (1996)
  • Jean Hegland: Into the Forest (1996)
  • Koushun Takami: Battle Royale (1999)

Contemporary

  • Nancy Farmer: The House of the Scorpion (2002)
  • Margaret Atwood: Oryx and Crake (2003), MaddAddam series
  • Jeanne DuPrau: The City of Ember (2003)
  • David Mitchell: Cloud Atlas (2004)
  • Meg Rosoff: How I Live Now (2004)
  • Kazuo Ishiguro: Never Let Me Go (2005)
  • Scott Westerfeld: Uglies (2005)
  • Max Brooks: World War Z (2006)
  • Cormac McCarthy: The Road (2006)
  • Suzanne Collins: The Hunger Games (2008)
  • Nick Harkaway: The Gone-Away World (2008)
  • Paolo Bacigalupi: The Windup Girl (2009)
  • James Dashner: The Maze Runner (2009)
  • Ally Condie: Matched (2010)
  • Gary Shteyngart: Super Sad True Love Story: A Novel (2010)
  • Ernest Cline: Ready Player One (2011)
  • Hugh Howey: Wool (2011)
  • Nathan Larson: The Dewey Decimal System (2011)
  • Tom Perrotta: The Leftovers (2011)
  • Veronica Roth: Divergent (2011)
  • Karen Thompson Walker: The Age of Miracles (2012)
  • Dave Eggers: The Circle (2013)
  • Chang-rae Lee: On Such a Full Sea (2014)
  • Emily St. John Mandel: Station Eleven (2014)
  • Margaret Atwood: The Heart Goes Last (2015)

Non-fiction

  • Chuck Klosterman: But What If We’re Wrong? Thinking About the Present As If It Were the Past (2016)

This listopia was compiled from the following lists on dystopian books:
Nerdist, Goodreads, The Huffington PostShortList, Read it ForwardBrightlylistchallenges.combestproducts.com

“And everyone must lose his mind, everyone must! The sooner the better! It is essential — I know it.”
~Yevgeny Zamyatin, We

Dystopian. Photo: Steve Johnson (CC BY 2.0)
Dystopian. Photo: Steve Johnson (CC BY 2.0)
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Author: fictivestina

Hey, I'm a native Helsinkian but a cosmopolitan at heart :) Outdoors, reading, writing and cultural attractions are my passion. Hiking in Lapland cannot be competed with!

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