The Circle,by Dave Eggers. Definitely the most relevant dystopia as this is a future that is almost, hauntingly, already here. The main character goes to work at a Google-like company where everyone’s lives become ever more accessible and transparent, until it reaches an intolerable point. Transparency is a a good thing, but how much is too much? How and where can a line be drawn? I read this a while ago and it still pops into my head a lot as cell phones, social media, and constant knowledge of everyone and everything become ever more pervasive. Haven’t seen the film but the book was well-written and an engrossing story.
Weis a really cool dystopia by Yevgeny Zamyatin: beautiful, creepy, and fascinating in equal measure exactly as a dystopia should be, We also has a uniquely Russian atmosphere. The main character is a spaceship engineer who lives in the One State where everything is dictated by math and everyone lives in a glass apartment and is referred to only by a number. Interesting for the historical value alone, We was written in 1920 (though it wasn’t published in the USSR until 1988) and is considered a grandfather, if not the grandfather, of the dystopian novel. While worth reading to trace its influence on Orwell, Huxley and others, We is also a fun, trippy read in its own right.
Oryx and Crake.Another modern one but not quite as almost here as The Circle, this novel is dark and engrossing and well-written, as you would expect from Margaret Atwood. (Margaret Atwood also wrote The Handmaid’s Tale,of course, totally recommend it if you haven’t read it.) The present day of acid rain, off-the-charts UV indexes, giant glowing bunnies, pigs that were bred to grow replacement human organs and can almost talk, and a world nearly devoid of people is set against flashbacks of the main character’s life and his role in the build up of all the things going wrong and the downfall of civilization. Vivid, disturbing and fascinating in equal measure. Only complaint is that the two sequels in the MaddAddam trilogy don’t quite live up to Oryx and Crake, but Oryx and Crake itself is an excellent read.
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?Only a partial recommendation here because Philip K Dick is not actually that great of a writer, as it turns out, and this book is one of those rare instances when the movie (Blade Runner) is actually quite a lot better than the book. However it’s a fun, light read, as much a historical window on 1969 as a piece of futuristic science-fiction, and it has some really fascinating bits that got left out of the movie about how rare and valuable animals have become, and how therefore the highest ideal in social standing, and indeed greatest life goal, has become owning a goat, or maybe a sheep.