Alternative Facts & The Nonsense That Follows

With the recent hullaballoo about alternative facts and George Orwell’s 1984 making a phenomenal comeback to the best seller list of Amazon and other major book manufacturers I thought it would  be a great time to revisit dystopian science fiction. According to a recent check of Google News, net neutrality, GPS locators, a new U2 album, and “tolerance” are all Orwellian concepts.

With the current events we are following in the news it’s quite easy to get caught up in today’s negativity, so with this post I would like to bring to light some novels that are bleak in parts but are of great interest with some farfetched predictions that now seem a whole lot more plausible.  There is dark humour in the content and some lighter sides as well.

Here is a short list for those that enjoy the bitter dark side but can also see the light as well.…

Nineteen eighty-four, by George Orwell

From Big Brother to Doublethink, the landscape of the dystopia George Orwell created in 1949 exists in the minds even of those who’ve never picked up the novel. It has become a shorthand for totalitarianism, for the surveillance state, for the power of the mass media to manipulate public opinion, history and even the truth – and, in the process, has allowed people to forget that it remains a story to be read which a political thriller it is. Orwell asked himself what Britain would look like if it fell prey to either one of the totalitarian creeds that dominated the mid-20th century. From that basic inquiry, 1984 was born

The Handmaid’s Tale, Margaret Atwood

Atwood’s novel was an ingenious enterprise that showed, without hysteria, the real dangers to women of closing their eyes to patriarchal oppression. The question, then, that should be considered is the plausibility, in light of current conditions, of the future depicted in The Handmaid’s Tale . We ought, however, first recall that the purpose of a dystopia is not accurate prediction, but effective prophylaxis: the dystopist, that is, wants to offer a self-defeating prophecy. The media frenzy in and around 1984 over Nineteen Eighty-Four as prediction almost invariably missed the point that Orwell did not want to describe accurately a totalitarian future, but to forestall one. The less “right” he was, the better job he had done. Similarly, we may safely conclude that Atwood has no desire to prove an oracle; assuming, however, that her purpose is more than merely to entertain (“jolly good yarn”), the minatory force of her tale will depend on the effectiveness of her extrapolation from real and present dangers in today’s society. Trueness to the future is thus not the crucial criterion of a dystopian vision, but trueness to the present, paradoxically, is.

The Passage, Justin Cronin

A human-created virus has infected humankind, mutating most into super strong, near-immortal vampiric creatures. The “virals”–also called “jumpers” and “dracs” (after Dracula, of course)–can leap 20 feet through the air at a bound and split a human (or a horse, or a cow) in half with their bare hands. A small band of men and women embark on a cross-country trek, looking for a way to protect the few remaining uninfected humans from extinction. With them travels an enigmatic prepubescent girl who talks to the virals with her mind and seems to have been born 100 years before.  This is part of a trilogy that never waivers in excitement and the joy in fear that explains the appeal of horror stories probably also explains the appeal of the dystopia, an ideological horror story.

Other recommendations are:

 

Station eleven / Emily St. John Mandel. The road / Cormac McCarthy. Cat’s cradle / Kurt Vonnegut. Oryx and Crake / Margaret Atwood.