Dystopic Reads For 2014

The ocean is rising. A man gets shot in a movie theater for texting. Fukushima is still leaking radioactive material into the Pacific, and West Virginia has methylcyclohexene methanol poisoning the drinking water. And that’s just last week: how bad will things be by the next century? Some of our finest literary writers have predicted what our future might look like, reminding us all that it could be much, much worse.

1. Rich people live in walled cities, serviced by Asian labor colonies; the rest of America has become anarchic wilderness, and a teenage girl on the run must use all her smarts to survive.

“Soon after Reg disappeared and Fan departed, other people began to disappear too. Not many, perhaps one or two a month, certainly no more.”

2. America has become a police state in financial disarray, and New Yorkers rely on handheld devices to evaluate sexiness and credit ratings.

“Reading is difficult. People just aren’t meant to read anymore. We’re in a post-literate age. You know, a visual age.”

3. School children are being raised for a sickening, nefarious purpose.

“The problem, as I see it, is that you’ve been told and not told. You’ve been told, but none of you really understand, and I dare say, some people are quite happy to leave it that way.”

4. Genetically mutated pigeons have run amok, after a pandemic has wiped out most of humanity.

“People need such stories, Pilar said once, because however dark, a darkness with voices in it is better than a silent void.”

5. A hijacked plane circles Dallas for twenty years, among many things that have gone awry.

“I once asked the Pilot - this was early into the hijacking, maybe a week - how we we were doing in terms of gasoline and how he planned to refuel, but he did not tell me. He laughed and patted me on the shoulder as if we were good friends together on a road trip and I had just asked him how we were going to get there without a map.”

6. The world ends not with a bang but a whimper, as the Earth’s rotation gradually slows, with increasingly catastrophic results.

“Later, I would come to think of those first days as the time when we learned as a species that we had worried over the wrong things: the hole in the ozone layer, the melting of the ice caps, West Nile and swine flu and killer bees. But I guess it never is what you worry over that comes to pass in the end. The real catastrophes are always different—unimagined, unprepared for, unknown.”

7. One word: ZOMBIES!

“We never see other people anyway, only the monsters we make of them.”

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