Friday, June 09, 2017

Five top books about the making of a dystopia

A.J. Hartley is the bestselling author of a dozen novels including Sekret Machines: Chasing Shadows (co-authored with Tom DeLonge) and the YA fantasy adventure Steeplejack and its sequel Firebrand (available from Tor Teen). As Andrew James Hartley, he is also UNC Charlotte’s Robinson Distinguished Professor of Shakespeare, specializing in performance theory and practice, and is the author of various scholarly books and articles from the world’s best academic publishers including Palgrave and Cambridge University Press. He is an honorary fellow of the University of Central Lancashire, UK.

One of Hartley's five favorite books about the making of a dystopia, as shared at
The Handmaid’s Tale, Margaret Atwood (1985)

This is one of several books I could have put on this list which seem especially—even painfully—topical right now and have gotten a lot of attention in the last year or so (Orwell’s 1984 and Animal Farm being other obvious possibilities), and not merely because of the new TV adaptation. The focus is, of course, on gender, the Republic of Gilead (once the United States) having stripped women of the most basic rights (including the right to read). While it may seem unlikely that a civilized country could take such a retrograde step, the circumstances which create this culture in the book—the rise of a Christian fundamentalist movement which asserts its ruthless influence after an attack kills the President and most of Congress—are unsettlingly plausible.
Read about another entry on the list.

The Handmaid's Tale made Lidia Yuknavitch's 6 favorite books list, Elisa Albert's list of nine revelatory books about motherhood, Michael W. Clune's top five list of books about imaginary religions, Jeff Somers's top six list of often misunderstood SF/F novels, Jason Sizemore's top five list of books that will entertain and drop you into the depths of despair, S.J. Watson's list of four books that changed him, Shaun Byron Fitzpatrick's list of eight of the most badass ladies in all of banned literature, Guy Lodge's list of ten of the best dystopias in fiction, art, film, and television, Bethan Roberts's top ten list of novels about childbirth, Rachel Cantor's list of the ten worst jobs in books, Charlie Jane Anders and Kelly Faircloth's list of the best and worst childbirth scenes in science fiction and fantasy, Lisa Tuttle's critic's chart of the top Arthur C. Clarke Award winners, and PopCrunch's list of the sixteen best dystopian books of all time.

The Page 69 Test: Steeplejack.

--Marshal Zeringue