She would have known what to do.
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She always knew just what to do. He looked at Georgia another moment. Then he sighed, took hold of the door again, and yanked it open. Instantly, furnace-like air boiled in. Warne slammed the door, waited for Georgia to hoist her backpack onto her shoulders and follow, then hopped over the shimmering tarmac to the Transportation Center. Inside, it was pleasantly chilly. The Center was spotless and functional, framed in blond wood and brushed metal. Glass-fronted ticket windows stretched in an endless line to the left and right, deserted save for one directly ahead.
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Another display of the laminated card and they were past and headed down a brightly-lit corridor. In an hour or so, he knew, this space would be jammed with harried parents, squirming kids, chattering tour guides. Now, there was nothing but rows of metal crowd rails and the click of his heels on the pristine floor. A monorail was already waiting at the loading zone, low-slung and silver, its doors open. Oversized windows curved up both sides, meeting at the transport mechanism that clung to the overhead rail.
Warne had never ridden on a suspended monorail before, and he did not relish the prospect. He could see a scattering of riders inside, mostly men and women in business suits. An operator directed them to the frontmost car. It was, as usual, spotless, its sole occupants a heavyset man in the front and a short, bespectacled man in the rear. Though the monorail had not yet left the Center, the heavyset man was looking around busily, his pasty, heavy-browed face a mask of excitement and anticipation. Warne let Georgia take the window seat, then slid in beside her.
Almost before they were seated, a low chime sounded and the doors came noiselessly together. There was a brief lurch, followed by silky acceleration. Welcome to the Utopia monorail, a female voice said from everywhere and nowhere. It was not the usual voice Warne had heard on public address systems: instead, it was rich, sophisticated, with a trace of a British accent. Travel time to the Nexus will be approximately eight minutes and thirty seconds. For your safety and comfort, we ask that you remain in your seats for the duration of the ride.
Suddenly, brilliant light bathed the compartment as the Center fell away behind them. Ahead and above, dual monorail tracks curved gently through the center of a narrow sandstone canyon. Warne glanced down quickly, then almost snatched his feet away in surprise. What he had supposed to be a solid floor was actually a series of glass panels.
Below his feet was now an unobstructed drop of perhaps a hundred feet to the rocky canyon floor. He took a deep breath and looked away.
The canyon we are traveling through is geologically very old, the voice went smoothly on. Along its rim, you can see the juniper, sagebrush, and scrub pinon characteristic of the high desert. Turning, Warne saw that--in flagrant defiance of the remain-seated edict--the heavyset man had walked back through the car to take a seat across from them. He wore a painfully orange floral shirt, had bright black eyes, and a smile that seemed too big for his face.
Like Warne, he had a small envelope in his hand. My God, what a view. And in the first car, too. We'll have a great view of the Nexus. Never been here before, but I've heard it's outstanding. Imagine, buying a whole mountain, or mesa, or whatever you call it, for a theme park! Is this your daughter? Pretty girl you've got there. On the canyon wall to the right of the train, you can see a series of pictographs.
These red-and-white anthropomorphs are the work of the prehistoric inhabitants of this region, the period now known as Basketmaker II, which flourished almost three thousand years ago. The man shrugged his squat shoulders. And the park hasn't opened yet, so you're not a visitor. That means you've got to be a consultant or a specialist. So is everybody on the train, I'll bet.
At this the man smiled even more broadly. He put his finger to one side of his nose and winked conspiratorially. I'm the exotic botanist who did all the work at the New York Exposition last year, maybe you read about it? Anyway, they want some special hybrids for the atheneum they're building in Atlantis. And they're having some problems with the night-bloomers in Gaslight. Don't like the humidity or something. Warne nodded as the man retrieved the fallen envelopes, passed his back.
That he could believe. It fits in neatly with his other studies of alienation, but also echoes modern concerns almost 60 years after its publication. Apocalypses bring us face-to-face with the horror of time. Usually, they do this by reminding us of how little we have, but A Canticle for Leibowitz makes us confront the weight of endless years.
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Miller, who suffered from depression and PTSD, went into seclusion after writing this novel. He never finished another a sequel was posthumously put together , and in a heartrending irony, killed himself almost 40 years later. A study of human desire for conflict and violence? A coming-of-age novel in dystopian England? An exploration of the dark side of youth culture in the postwar era?
Or possibly a combination of all three? In A Clockwork Orange , the future is a violent, broken place. Vonnegut satirizes a range of targets, from American provincialism to banana republic dictators to the jet set, but ultimately has eyes on something bigger. He plays the futility of the human condition for laughs, in a way that highlights rather than disguises the bleakness of his vision.
Few dystopian stories are also horror stories, but Ellison has always enjoyed surprising his readers. In this astounding work of short fiction, he conceives a world where only five humans are left and their lives are dominated by a sadistic and omnipotent supercomputer known as AM. The original edition of Androids was set in ; later editions place the story in the 21st century.
Humanity was nearly wiped out during another global conflict, and now, robotic versions of animals and humans are part of everyday life. While nuclear war was a serious threat when Dick wrote the book, the stark look at a future Earth after mass environmental destruction seems all too real now. The Hainish cycle of books and stories contains many of these, including The Left Hand of Darkness , about a planet whose inhabitants have no fixed gender, and The Dispossessed , set on twin planets with radically different forms of government.
The Lathe of Heaven , though set on earth, has just as heady a concept: protagonist George Orr a name with plenty of dystopian resonance on its own possesses the ability to rewrite reality itself. Working with his therapist, Orr begins to use his ability to ostensibly improve the world.
A wish with the intention of making things better, however, often has the opposite effect — thus allowing Le Guin to, in this short novel, showcase a number of ominous outcomes for humanity. When you think of the most iconic Dr.
Like Samuel R. Many dystopias focus on the ways in which human flaws and obsessions can transform society for the worst. Specifically the idea that, in the event of some extraterrestrial lifeform visiting Earth, they might not even bother to contact us, leaving humans to puzzle over the bizarre artifacts they leave in their wake.
This brief, brutal novella, written by Sheldon under a pseudonym, is about a girl who gives up her life of poverty and physical deformity, instead becoming the remote brain for a perfect, young, machine-made starlet. As a vision of the future, The Girl Who is full of sci-fi tropes like remote brains and 3-D holograms. More presciently, and more pointedly, it also speculates that advertising would become a hidden, embedded part of entertainment. Some dystopian novels take their cue from the breakdown of an existing social order; others focus on the conflict between two incompatible worldviews, and the devastation that they leave in their wake.
As he tells the story of a wanderer arriving in an isolated city, Delany uses a host of experimental prose techniques to leave the reader as shaken as his characters. The Girl Who Owned a City , familiar from many middle-school reading lists, is simpler and smaller than the Hunger Games cohort of young-adult dystopias.
After Lisa loses her house to a gang of kids, she moves her nascent collective into the local high school. Its smallness and the simplicity of its language are a benefit rather than a detraction — as an introduction to dystopia and an act of imaginative future horror, it can hit a year-old square in the chest. Woman on the Edge of Time feels atypical for a dystopian novel: Connie, its protagonist, lives in New York in the s, and its opening suggests the reader is in for a bleak work of literary realism.
But soon, Connie is contacted by a representative from a utopian society in a possible future timeline, and things grow infinitely more complex. As science-fiction writer and critic Jo Walton observed in an essay on the novel, s New York comes off as pretty dystopian here as well. Connie is repeatedly deprived of her freedom by patriarchal forces as sinister as anything you might run across in Atwood. Soon enough, however, the conversation at familial functions turns to the state of the world, which is headed toward rapid societal collapse.
Casual talks about genetics in the early going take on a new significance as the book advances; this is a tale of a grim future, the evolution of humanity, and the questions that face the society to come.
Perhaps most impressive is how subtly the novel changes: Without ever losing sight of the personal, it takes on societal and environmental changes on a grander and grander scale. The Stand is his magnum opus when it comes to writing about the end of civilization, and the ensuing battle to decide what direction humanity will go in as it tries to rebuild. Beginning with The Shadow of the Torturer , Wolfe wrote a number of interconnected works that explored the fate of humanity in the far future and earned a whole lot of acclaim along the way.
These are generally grouped together as the Book of the New Sun set on Earth at a time when the sun has dimmed , the Book of the Long Sun set on a massive generation ship , and the Book of the Short Sun set on a number of distant worlds. The Shadow of the Torturer is where it all began, featuring an apprentice torturer with an eidetic memory venturing across a bizarre world long after our own civilization has vanished.
The setup is simple: A group of teenagers in a futuristic megacity stumble across something that transforms one of the kids into a troubled god; the End of Days ensues. A character at one point punches the goddamn moon and makes a significant dent, and it never looks silly, somehow. Atwood presents a fully realized and terrifyingly timeless world in the Republic of Gilead, where rape is reframed as a sacred and clinical ceremony.
The Postman made into a much-maligned film in is set after a series of wars — both international and civil — have led to the end of the United States as we know it. Though the setting is dystopian, Brin pursues the question of how a nation can be rebuilt — whether through a set of shared beliefs or a group of working institutions.
The presence of an adversarial strain of violent, hypermasculine authoritarianism makes for some chilling parallels to the present moment. But in his prime, Card captured a range of emotions with a power and immediacy seldom seen in sci-fi. Imagine British boarding school, complete with arbitrary games that determine your future, taking place in the grimy workaday spacecraft of the Alien series. With the help of Janson and Varley, the great comics auteur Frank Miller crafted a story about Batman returning to active duty in middle age, seeking to re-conquer a Gotham that looks suspiciously like Times Square circa , writ large.
The dystopian aspects of the story are deliberately over the top: talk shows fawning over serial killers, street gangs dressed like Johnny Rotten in a German porno, televised talking heads grinning through the madness, and so on. Told from multiple perspectives, the book frequently evokes the onset of the AIDS crisis, but magnified and transposed to a few years from now. Plenty of tales of dystopian futures focus on everyday people trying to live out their lives even as sinister forces prey upon them.
Hint: not good.
Ryman is the sort of novelist who reinvents himself with each work, covering a vast amount of emotional and intellectual territory along the way. In the case of The Child Garden , the setting is a futuristic world in which advances in medicine have resulted in a cure for cancer — which has the side effect of dramatically shortening the human lifespan. Despite being a product of the U. First introduced in , this long-running series of comic books explores a vicious future city where the streets are a war between motley crazies and brutal law-enforcement officers called Judges.
Dredd himself only appears peripherally; the joy here is in seeing the world he defines. Many of the works on this list have been overshadowed by cinematic adaptations, but arguably none more so than The Children of Men. After the cyberpunk movement made its mark on science fiction in the s, Stephenson came along and took a crack at the genre with this novel of a futuristic world in which virtual spaces coexist with the physical, and dangers can arise within each.
Its tone is brisk and occasionally over-the-top: this is, after all, a novel in which the main character is literally named Hiro Protagonist. As in his subsequent works — including The Diamond Age and the Baroque Cycle series — the nature and dangers of language play a significant role here. Depicting a Southern California beset by fires, drought, mass unemployment, and the slow collapse of social services, Parable of the Sower brought the ways race, gender, and community could alter survival strategies into the sci-fi imagination.
Lauren Olamina, a young black girl afflicted with a painful psychosomatic empathy condition, is forced to flee the gated community in which her family eked out a precarious stability. A full Earthseed saga is one of the great lost works of science fiction. The Giver is the prototypical example of a utopia with a dark side — perhaps the prime example in young-adult literature of a seemingly perfect society that had to sacrifice something to become that way. Jonas lives in a structured community in which marriages, careers, and families are all chosen for citizens by a preternaturally wise group of capital-E Elders.
Perhaps the sparsest dystopia is the bleakest one of all. For all that Infinite Jest is hailed as a towering work of American fiction, and for its numerous literary innovations and digressions Footnotes! Circular structures! Infinite Jest is a loud, ambitious, perniciously unsettling book. There are plenty of advantages to having the lead character in a story of a strange future be a journalist. Had they found traces of a rival force? He had no way of knowing.
He strained, desperate to find out how many there were. Barry nestled himself into a thick cropping of ferns and tried once again to slow his rate of breathing. He battled unsuccessfully as his fight-or-flight instincts wrestled for control of the helm. His heart thumped in his chest, as his subconscious already fled. Somewhere high in the rafters of the jungle canopy, a chimpanzee screamed. Moments later, the cry was answered by an equally excited respondent. A sudden dose of adrenaline jolted through his body, causing him to tremble slightly in the grove. The voices grew louder, more excited now.
The jungle around him came alive as though every animal kingdom had gathered to watch his fate. Now, he detected the chopping action of a machete, cutting and slicing through a dense jungle brush.
Footsteps followed, as did the clinking of metal upon metal. Boots stomped eagerly through the freshly laid trail. He counted ten pairs, then twenty. Every fourth or fifth pair carried a torch; A whitish orange flame illuminated only small patches of the night surrounding them. Without moving his head, Barry opened his eyes. Only thirty meters away, a single file rank of boys he guessed from ages eight to early twenties stalked through the jungle.
Each armed with AK assault rifles, many with magazines duct taped to each other. Most carried what he guessed to be grenades. He closed his eyes, causing the sound of the passing militia to drown out thought. Deep in the heart of Africa, Barry Jones exhaled a sigh of relief as the last of the torches passed, leaving only pitch blackness together with the symphony of a jungle at night. William and Fiona Malter headed Malter Global Resources, a conglomerate of business operations ranging from mining, dredging, excavation, raw material processing, and a half dozen other endeavors. The company had been founded by his great grandfather, Charles Malter.
A former sea captain who sank his entire savings along with a small inheritance into the venture, he proved a brazen and daring man. Will Malter was almost as handsome as he was rich. The fifty-seven-year-old multi-Billionaire appeared tall, well aged, and usually stylishly overdressed for the occasion. An alpha male, at once taken notice of in every room entered. A voracious reader, his library included volumes of original works by Shakespeare and Voltaire.
Being an avid consumer of theater and the arts, it came as no surprise when the family announced it would make a sizable donation to the Cairo Museum of Ancient and Modern Art. The luncheon would start in roughly fifteen minutes, a time reserved for when topics of great interest were debated, family affairs discussed, and other more delicate matters handled. The latest in personal achievements, be it a promotion or acquisition, would make themselves known. Easily the most pressing issue of all was how they intended to make their next move.
Gaining the mines throughout Sub-Saharan Africa had been huge. It allowed the family access to a wealth, power, and secrets not known existed. Rare Earth metals formed throughout Africa. Without them, life as it revolves would come to a lightning fast halt. Any device using an electronic circuit board relies heavily on these precious metals. Advancements in healthcare and silicon valley only enhanced their value.
William still remembered the telegram, not because of the message, but because someone sent a telegram. Shortly after the discovery of the new mines, it arrived, except more than a letter. This one came with a package. Included was a small white box wrapped with a velvet red bow.
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How dramatic? Will thought as he read the card. The rules were laid out on the back of the card. If he accepted these rules and stipulations of the game, he only needed to accept the package.
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If not, the delivery boy should return the box along with the card and everyone involved should forget the entire ordeal. He used the allotted thirty seconds to decide as he read the card once more while the delivery boy waited. There were fraternities who used strange and entertaining ways of sending invitations to their pledges. He realized the new-found minerals might open doorways not yet seen, but this? Upon acceptance of the package, the card stated to open the box.
Inside cardboard packaging, a large and heavy brick of a mobile phone, complete with an unwieldy antenna resembling a stick of dynamite. Maybe it was supposed to be a gag, or a jest. A relic of the past as we move towards the future?