Dystopian lit seems pandemic- and disaster-proof. The more Orwellian things get, the more people crave the genre. Do we consider it escapist, or are we prepping? For those brave enough to add dystopian novels to their reading lists, here are some picks from Indieland editors.
In J.H. Ramsay’s Dune and Star Wars mashup, Predator Moons, humans have mastered teleportation but, alas, not their own greed, lust, addiction, and general misguidedness. “Overall, Ramsay offers a work that’s a feat of considerable imagination and attitude—a stimulating tale of interplanetary intrigue and monsters, human and otherwise. Some genre connoisseurs may say that the future humanity he invokes—with its betrayals, obsessions, and sham replicas of animals, people, perhaps even the material world itself—seems like something out of Philip K. Dick’s realm of paranoiac dystopia.”
In the near-future world of The Coldness of Objects by Panayotis Cacoyannis, those deemed undesirable by the government are selected for “Museum Service.” Displayed with their possessions in the People’s Museum, selectees can be observed going about their daily routines. The authoritarian government came to power in 2024 after a pandemic “exhausted the world,” and it benefits greatly from stoking racism and hate. “Overall, Cacoyannis has written a thoroughly gripping novel, using the rhetoric of a real-life pandemic to fashion a chilling vision of an abnormal ‘new normal’ to come,” opines our reviewer. “An intriguing, timely, and terrifying portent of life after Covid-19.”
An alliance of hacker anarchists targets corporations and destabilizes America in Jeff Bond’s Anarchy of the Mice.“Bond’s yarn, the first in his Third Chance Enterprises series, features crackerjack action scenes as well as a sly parody of the symbiosis between activist movements and the corporatocracy, all in vividly evocative prose,” raves our reviewer. “A raucously entertaining actioner with a sting of social satire.”
Karen Schechner is the vice president of Kirkus Indie.