Nov 27, 2007

the big list

These are the books and stories I'm reading. A few are apocalyptic tales, but for the most part they are dystopian. I'm crossing them out as I finish them and post a review. If you have any suggestions, please let me know.

The Absent City (La Ciudad Ausente) by Ricardo Piglia
A Canticle for Leibowitz by Walter M. Miller, Jr.
Acidity by Nadeem F. Paracha
A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess
Alas, Babylon by Pat Frank
All Tomorrow's Parties by William Gibson
Alongside Night by J. Neil Schulman
Altered Carbon by Richard K. Morgan
Ambient by Jack Womack
America 2014 by Dawn Blair
Among the Hidden by Margaret Peterson Haddix
Animal Farm by George Orwell
Anthem by Ayn Rand
Ape and Essence by Aldous Huxley
Ashes, Ashes (Ravage) by René Barjavel
A Strange Manuscript Found in a Copper Cylinder by James De Mille
Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand
Bar Code Rebellion by Suzanne Weyn
The Bar Code Tattoo by Suzanne Weyn
Battle Royale by Koushun Takami
Bear v. Shark by Chris Bachelder
Bend Sinister by Vladimir Nabokov
Beyond Thirty by Edgar Rice Burroughs
The Book of Dave by Will Self
Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
Brave New World Revisited by Aldous Huxley
Brave New Worlds collected by John Joseph Adams
The Broken Wheel by David Wingrove
Brown Girl in the Ring by Nalo Hopkinson
Burn Down the Sky by James Jaros
Camp Concentration by Thomas M. Disch
The Children of Men by P.D. James
The Chrysalids by John Wyndham
The City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau
Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell
Commitment Hour by James Alan Gardner
The Conqueror's Child by Suzy Charnas
Count Zero by William Gibson
Darkness at Noon by Arthur Koestler
Dark River by John Twelve Hawks
Day of the Triffids by John Wyndham
Dayworld by Philip José Farmer
Dayworld Rebel by Philip José Farmer
Devil on my Back by Monica Hughes
The Diamond Age, or A Young Lady's Illustrated Primer by Neal Stephenson
Die Andere Seite by Alfred Kubin
Dinner at Deviant's Palace by Tim Powers
The Dispossessed by Ursula K. Le Guin
Divided Kingdom by Rupert Thomson
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick
Doc and Fluff by Patrick Califia
Dr. Identity by D. Harlan Wilson
Drowning Towers by George Turner
The End of Eternity by Isaac Asimov
Elvissey by Jack Womack
Facial Justice by L.P. Hartley
Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
Fatherland by Robert Harris
Feed by M. T. Anderson
The Fifth Sacred Thing by Starhawk
The First Men in the Moon by H. G. Wells
Flow my tears, The Policeman Said, by Philip K. Dick
The Furies by Suzy Charnas
Gathering Blue by Lois Lowry
The Genocides by Thomas M. Disch
The Giver by Lois Lowry
The Glass Bees by Ernst Junger
Gun, with Occasional Music by Jonathan Lethem
Halting State, Charles Stross
Harrison Bergeron by Kurt Vonnegut
The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood
Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World by Haruki Murakami
Heathern by Jack Womack
The Hex series by Rhiannon Lassiter
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Idoru by William Gibson
I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream by Harlan Ellison
"If This Goes On — " by Robert A. Heinlein
In the Country of Last Things by Paul Auster
Incal (and spinoffs) by Alejandro Jodorowsky
Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace
Invitation to the Game by Monica Hughes
The Iron Heel by Jack London
Iron Council by China Miéville
It Can't Happen Here by Sinclair Lewis
The Jagged Orbit by John Brunner
Jennifer Government by Max Barry
Just Like Beauty by Lisa Lerner
Kallocain by Karin Boye
Kazohinia by Sándor Szathmári
The Last Election by Pete Davies
The Lathe of Heaven by Ursula K. Le Guin
The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin
Level 7 by Mordecai Roshwald
Limbo, (vt. Limbo 90) by Bernard Wolfe
Little Brother by Cory Doctorow
Logan's Run by William F. Nolan and George Clayton Johnson
Lord of the Flies by William Golding
The Long Walk by Stephen King
The Lost Thing by Shaun Tan
The Lottery by Shirley Jackson
Love in the Time of the Apocalypse by Gregory Blecha
The Machine Stops by E.M. Forster
Make Room! Make Room! by Harry Harrison
The Man in the High Castle by Philip K. Dick
Marching Through Georgia by S.M. Stirling
Market Forces by Richard Morgan
Memoirs of a Survivor by Doris Lessing
Memoirs Found in a Bathtub by Stanislaw Lem
Messenger by Lois Lowry
The Middle Kingdom: Chung Kuo 1 by David Wingrove
Mockingbird by Walter Tevis
Mona Lisa Overdrive by William Gibson
Mortal Engines by Philip Reeve
Moscow 2042 by Vladimir Voinovich
Motherlines by Suzy Charnas
My Melancholy Face by Heinrich Böll
Naked Lunch by William S. Burroughs
Neuromancer by William Gibson
Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro
1985 by Anthony Burgess
1984 by George Orwell
Noughts & Crosses series by Malorie Blackman
Nova Express by William S. Burroughs
Obernewtyn by Isobelle Carmody
On the Beach by Nevil Shute
Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood
Out of the Silent Planet by CS Lewis
Parable of the Sower and Parable of the Talents by Octavia Butler
Paradise Lost by John Milton
Paris in the 20th Century by Jules Verne
Pattern Recognition by William Gibson
The People of Sparks by Jeanne DuPrau
The Penultimate Truth by Philip K. Dick
Perelandra by CS Lewis
Perdido Street Station by China Miéville
The Pesthouse by Jim Crace
Planet of the Apes by Pierre Boulle
Player Piano (also known as Utopia 14) by Kurt Vonnegut
The Plot Against America by Philip Roth
Prayers for the Assassin by Robert Ferrigno
Pretties by Scott Westerfeld
Prison Planet by Chris Whatley
Rammer by Larry Niven
Random Acts of Senseless Violence by Jack Womack
Rant by Chuck Palahniuk
"Repent, Harlequin!" Said the Ticktockman by Harlan Ellison
The Road by Cormac McCarthy
The Running Man by Stephen King
Running Out of Time by Margaret Haddix
R.U.R. by Karel Čapek
Sea of Glass by Barry B. Longyear
Shade's Children by Garth Nix
The Sheep Look Up by John Brunner
The Shockwave Rider by John Brunner
The Shore of Women by Pamela Sargent
Sleepwalking by Nicola Morgan
The Slynx by Tatyana Tolstaya
Small-Minded Giants by Oísin McGann
Smith's Dream by C. K. Stead
Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson
The Space Merchants by Frederik Pohl and Cyril M. Kornbluth
Specials by Scott Westerfeld
The Stand by Stephen King
Stand on Zanzibar by John Brunner
Starfish by Peter Watts
The Stone Dogs by S.M. Stirling
The Stone Within: Chung Kuo 4 by David Wingrove
The Supernaturalist by Eoin Colfer
Swastika Night by Katharine Burdekin
Sweeney's Island (also known as Cloud On Silver) by John Christopher
Terraplane by Jack Womack
That Hideous Strength by C.S. Lewis
The Time Machine by H.G. Wells
This Perfect Day by Ira Levin
Time Out of Joint by Philip K. Dick
The Last Book in the Universe by Rodman Philbrick
The Traveler by John Twelve Hawks
The Trial by Franz Kafka
The Memoirs Of A Survivor by Doris Lessing
twentytwelve by Andrew Keogh
2666 by Roberto Bolaño
Uglies by Scott Westerfeld
Under the Yoke by S.M. Stirling
Unwind by Neal Shusterman
Utopia X by Scott Wilson
Veracity by Mark Lavorato
Vermilion Sands by JG Ballard
V for Vendetta by Alan Moore
Virtual Light by William Gibson
Walk to the End of the World by Suzy Charnas
The Wanting Seed by Anthony Burgess
War with the Newts by Karel Čapek
The White Mountain: Chung Kuo 3 by David Wingrove
We by Yevgeny Zamyatin
Welcome to the Monkey House (short story) by Kurt Vonnegut
When Gravity Fails by George Alec Effinger
When The Sleeper Wakes by H. G. Wells
Will the Soviet Union Survive Until 1984? by Andrei Amalrik
Winterlong by Elizabeth Hand
The World Inside by Robert Silverberg
A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle
The Yawning Heights, a novel about Ibansk by Aleksandr Zinoviev
Z for Zachariah by Robert C. O'Brien


Andrew Keogh said...

Well I'm the author of twentytwelve and I'm very fkattered that it is on your 'to read' list. Hope you enjoy it - but if you don't my back is broad enough ;-)

downtown guy said...

Hey, thanks for looking in. twentytwelve is one of the ones I'm most looking forward to, honestly. As soon as I get my hands on a copy, you'll see my take on it here. Anyone else on the list you think I should pay special attention to?

- Hank

andrewjkeogh said...

Okay, I confine myself to three recommendations:

1. The Book of Dave - Will Self. It's quirky, downright weird and plays wonderful bizarre games with language. I went to a book signing for it some time ago and had a chat with the author - seemed like a nice guy.

2. Paradise Lost - John Milton. 'Nuff said

3. Swastika Night - Katharine Burdekin. Bit of a cheek recommending a book I haven't read myself yet. Until a few days ago I'd never even heard of it but it turns out that it prefigured Orwell's 1984 (it was written in 1937/8 I think)and has recently become noticed again after decades of obscurity.

downtown guy said...

Thanks, I appreciate it. The reading order is mostly based on what I can find when, but I'm spending a little more effort getting a hold of certain titles. I'll push those to the top of the list.

Do you have a public blog?

- Hank

white rabbit said...

I didn't have a blog but you gave me the idea of hving one. I just set it up...

there ya go! :D

downtown guy said...

Very cool, looking forward to seeing what you write.

jes said...

Hey Hank! I found you through the Dystopias and Social Critiques group on goodreads. I'm looking forward to following your blog this year and perhaps joining you on a few reads. I must say I'm interested to see how this project will affect your outlook on the world :).


downtown guy said...

Cool! I'm glad you're interested. Feel free to comment on anything.

JRSM said...

This may not work, as it's a big post, but here's my own erratic list of end-of-the-world novels, with comments...

The really good ones marked with an *, the really depressing with an #

*#Ian Macpherson: Wild Harbour – a married couple try to stay alive and unnoticed in Highland Scotland as the world falls to pieces through war

*Russell Hoban: Riddley Walker – life in post-holocaust UK, wonderfully written in its own invented pidgin English

*#John Christopher: Death of Grass / No Blade of Grass – global crop failure, society collapses

John Christopher: The World in Winter – sudden new ice age, society collapses

*John Christopher: A Wrinkle in the Skin – sudden global tectonic disaster, society annihilated overnight

Jack London: The Scarlet Plague – travels of a boy and his grandfather in plague-obliterated America

*Walter M Miller Jr: A Canticle for Liebowitz – post-nuclear-war Catholic Church tries to save civilisation, among their holy relics a shopping list belonging to one St Liebowitz

#Neville Shute: On the Beach – military and civilian survivors of nuclear war wait in Australia for the inevitable deadly fallout that will kill everyone else

*Graham Greene: ‘A Discovery in the Woods’ (short story in ‘A Sense of Reality’) – explorations of a group of children born several generations after nuclear war

*John Wyndham: Day of the Triffids – sudden global blindness plus genetically engineered killer plants, society collapses

*John Wyndham: The Chrysalids – post-nuclear-war puritan village society in Canada, kids with special telepathic powers living in hiding

*George R Stewart: Earth Abides – life of a survivor of plague which kills almost everyone else

Mary Shelley: The Last Man – also the life of a survivor of plague which kills almost everyone else (see also the excellent poem of the same name by Thomas Hood at

*#William Golding: Lord of the Flies – isolated society of children goes berserk after crashing on isolated island fleeing nuclear war

Jean Hegland: Into the Forest – non-specific societal collapse, two sisters living alone in a house in the forest try to survive

#Aldous Huxley: Ape and Essence – New Zealand documentary crew investigates the nuclear war that ended most of civilisation

*#Cormac McCarthy: The Road – father and son try to survive in aftermath of total nuclear war

*#Wilson Tucker: The Long, Loud Silence – a man living in biowarfare-ruined America tries to get to the “normal”, uncontaminated part of the country

*#Robert O’Brien: Z for Zachariah – excellent YA novel about young girl living alone in isolated valley after a nuclear war, until a stranger arrives…

*#Robert Swindells: Brother in the Land – another fine YA novel, this one from the point of view of a boy who survives the war and tries to survive the aftermath
HRF Keating: A Long Walk to Wimbledon – a man travels through ruined London to find his ex-wife

Richard Jefferies: After London – pastoral-ish novel of life in post-collapse UK (available at

Luke Rhinehart: Long Voyage Back – people who survived a nuclear war by being in an offshore boat desperately search for safe place to land

*JG Ballard: The Drowned World – early disastrous global warming novel – a few survivors surrender to their reptile brains in tropical, submerged London

JG Ballard: The Drought – massive fresh water shortage, society collapses

Doris Lessing: Memoirs of a Survivor – general societal collapse, annoyingly pretentious

#Mordecai Roshwald: Level 7 – increasingly insane existence of the only survivors of a nuclear war, the people living in bunkers in charge of the remaining weapons

*Nadine Gordimer: July’s People – (written pre the collapse of Apartheid) general collapse of South African “society”, white family sheltered by their ex-housekeeper’s black family in the bush

*Stephen Vincent Benet: ‘By the Waters of Babylon’ (short story) – the son of a priest explores the Great Dead Place (ie New York)

Pat Frank: Alas, Babylon – Floridians try to survive nuclear war, story undermined by not taking the effects of fallout, etc, seriously enough

*#Maggie Gee: The Burning Book – seemingly “normal” literary novel interrupted partway through by nuclear war

RC Sherriff: The Hopkins Manuscript – a man’s life story before, during and after the total collapse of society because of the Moon dropping out of orbit (good, but scientifically daft)

Carolyn See: Golden Days – seeming satire of Californian New Age/inspiration industry types interrupted partway through by nuclear war

Dick Morland : Albion! Albion! – so-so adventure story set in post-collapse London, by a pseudonym of Reginald Hill (Dalziel & Pascoe)

Jim Crace: The Pesthouse – disappointing story of two people living in post-collapse America

Grant Allen: The Thames Valley Catastrophe (short story) – Lodon destroyed by volcanoes

Not yet read…
Tatyana Tolstaya: Life in post-holocaust Russia, a new translation from NYRB Classics

downtown guy said...

Hey, thanks for the list. A few of those I've read, a few I've been meaning to. Right now, in the interest of sticking to my completely arbitrary set task, I'm off the apocalypses and on the dystopias. It's strange - the end-of-the-world scenarios tend to be less frightening for me. I suspect that, deep inside, I think I could survive a societal collapse, but I'd hate to live in, for instance, Huxley's Brave New World.

Kylie said...

Hey, I just found out about a new dystopian by Scottish author Charles Stross, called 'Halting State'. I read a review at the Sydney Morning Herald website:

It sounds interesting.

downtown guy said...

Thanks! I'll look it up and maybe add it to the list. Damn, this list is getting out of hand.

John M. said...

I think you might like 'Dinner at Deviant's Palace' by Tim Powers. I also second 'A Canticle for Liebowitz'. Both qualify as post-apocalypse, both are excellent reads.

I might have a spare copy laying around that I could 'loan' you... ;) feel free to email me.

Nice weblog, btw.

downtown guy said...

Thanks. I ran across yours just blog surfing, and added it to my reader.

I know it sounds like a nit pick, but I'm trying to stay well into dystopia territory and away from strictly post-apocalypse with no dystopian elements fiction. What do you say - do those qualify?

John M. said...

They both qualify as both, as I see it.

Dinner at Deviant's Palace has more dystopian elements than Liebowitz. There is still some semblance of a society left. Liebowitz takes place over centuries in a world that is rising from the ashes, dystopia ensues. Still, I'd put these two ahead of McCarthy's The Road in that regard.

You should also check out The Peace War, by Vernor Vinge. Very tasty dystopian goodness and an amazing story. Maybe the best dystopia novel I've read.

Scott said...

There is no way you're going to read all of those books in a single year! That would be nearly impossible, even without a job and sleep.

downtown guy said...

Well, "year" is just standing in for "long period of time until I get bored with the project."

badgerdaddy said...

I don't think I saw Cat's Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut on the list - great book, and a short read. Oddly optimistic work, too.

downtown guy said...

Thanks for the suggestions, man. If I run across a copy, I'll pick it up.

TechnoGirl Sara said...

Yeah that's quite the "big" list you have there. Good luck with that. I'd actually love to take the challenge and read them all but I hardly have time to read more than one a that rate it would take me like 15 years to finish. Of course new ones would be published and I'd never catch up. I didn't even know there were so many. I didn't even know "dystopian" was a genre until someone noticed my reading tastes and pointed it out to me. Maybe its because I'm already a pessimist and think that people expecting an easy, happy existence are naive. Well good luck.

downtown guy said...

Thanks. Yeah, I expected this to make me more paranoid, but I think I already distrust people in power so much that it's sort of a moot point. Fun reading, though.

Anonymous said...

Hell of a list, I thought I've read some random books. Looking forward to trying to find some of these in library. One recommendation: Read Atlas Shrugged and cross it off your list.

downtown guy said...

To be completely honest, I'm saving that for near the end and willing to toss it off the list altogether if it comes down to that. Ayn Rand's stuff is so damn bad.

Doc said...

Apparently Edgar Rice Burroughs wrote one called Beyond Thirty. It is now back in print.

Doc said...

Just recently rewatched Soylent Green (the movie version of Make Room, Make Room). What a great film! I had never heard the story before of how Edward G. Robinson was terminally ill and new it (though none of the other actors did). He died a few weeks after the film wrapped. It makes his euthanasia scene in the film so much more poignant.

Sorry for the spoiler, but really. It's been 30 years.

downtown guy said...

Thanks, Doc, I'll add that in. I ate up the Tarzan novels as a kid.

downtown guy said...

And I didn't know that about Robinson. You're right, though, that's a hell of a movie. A true classic.

Aurora said...

Howdy there, didn't see _Little Brother_ by Cory Doctorow while I was glancing over it.

That is SUCH a good book. It's target audience was young adults. (Which, you have to admit, was an awesome thing for Doctorow to be doing. Paranoia in the young is so refreshing. ;) ) But it's equal to, if not surpassing, the quality of some of the dystopias I've read.

downtown guy said...

I'll give it a shot, thanks for the suggestion. Something new would be a decent change from all the older works on the list.

Carolyn in VA said...

Very interesting list - I've read a bunch of them, have to start working my way through the rest now that you've pointed them out! = )
Here are some suggestions:

'The Holdfast Chronicles':
Walk to the End of the World, Motherlines, The Furies, and The Conqueror's Child; a series by Suzy McKee Charnas

The Gate to Women's Country,
The Visitor, and Gibbons Decline and Fall; all standalone novels by Sheri S Tepper

The Shore of Women by Pamela Sargent

The Rising of the Moon by Flynn Connolly

Native Tongue and The Judas Rose : Native Tongue II by Suzette Haden Elgin

Anthem by Ayn Rand

The Declaration by Gemma Malley - the sequel is out this year, but I haven't read it yet...

downtown guy said...

Thanks for the suggestions. I've actually read quite a few of Sheri S. Tepper's books. She can certainly write, but she's a little too into the idea of breeding out certain traits - it smacks of eugenics to me.

Shore of Women was one of the first I read - if you check out the beginning of the year, you can find my review.

Anthem as well - I'm no Ayn Rand fan, but I did read it.

I'll check out the rest of the ones you've listed. I'm always up to find something new.

elusivefish said...

hi there, I'm focusing on dystopian themed literature, specifically on the role of the individual in these societies, for an exam and I was wondering what you would suggest to read/watch in conjuction with what I have already read/seen?
I really enjoyed Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood but also have read
-A Clockwork Orange
-Brave New World
-The Giver
-The Handmaid's Tale
-Z for Zachariah
and watched the films
-A Clockwork Orange
-V for Vendetta
-Children of Men
any more suggestions?

downtown guy said...

Hey, good start to a list there. I'd also suggest Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler, the short story Harrison Bergeron by Kurt Vonnegut if you've never read it, and The Dispossessed by Ursula K. Le Guin. Report back and let me know what all you read, if you remember.

ptr said...

Hey, I want to send you a book. Check out my site and e-mail me, if you like.

Anonymous said...

I just wanted to give a quick nudge for you to look up The Man Who Was Thursday: A Nightmare by G.K. Chesterton. A great book that playfully tackles bizarre bureaucracies in way that you, judging by your list, might find amusing. Good luck with your list!

Auntbeast said...

Hi! I hijacked your list! Thank you so much. One of the posters was right, it will take much longer than a year. You've seen my list and the thread that started it. 2 years ago! And now you've given me a bunch more to look for!

downtown guy said...

Looks like you already had a good list going. I've read several of the ones you have that aren't listed here - I think the main difference is that you are mixing in postapocalyptic stuff, and I'm focused almost completely on the dystopias.

jabberwocky said...

I'm a Womack fan also and you seem to have left out the first book in the series, Random Acts Of Senseless Violence.

downtown guy said...

Not on purpose. I'll add it right in. Thanks!

Lisa B said...

Love your list. I really enjoy dystopian fiction and have already read a number of these books, and will use your list, with gratitude, as a guide for future reading. I just found and read a book you might wish to add: "Plague Year" by Jeff Carlson.

downtown guy said...

Thanks! I'll check that out and see about adding it. Sometimes I feel like I'm adding more than I'm reading!

Do you have a blog?

Lisa B said...

Just a professional blog (a newsfeed for my business). I am about to read Margaret Atwood's "The Year of the Flood," which focuses on the same catastrophe described in her previous book, "Oryx and Crake" (which I see you've listed). You may wish to add "Year of the Flood" to your list as well.

downtown guy said...

Actually, I've had enough of Atwood's style. She's not someone I would revisit without a good reason.

Fat32 said...

I'm still trying to figure out how come some of these are crossed out.

downtown guy said...

Those are the ones with reviews on this blog.

Fat32 said...

The fact that you answered my question about a 4 year old post is amazing!!! That's great! Have you had thoughts about kicking this blog back up/

downtown guy said...

Well, you know, I still get an email whenever someone comments. I've thought about it. I'm still reading them, just not writing up reviews. I do love this project, I just stalled out after a year and some. Maybe soon.

Anonymous said...

it is considered a YA book but I first read it when I was 11 and now an 34 and have lost count of how many times I've read it.

Dystopian British near-future

Masybe you'll get a chance