The Stand

Stephen King – The Stand

Stephen King has written a gazillion words over the decades, but none of them come close to equalling this early classic. It’s got a little bit of everything that horror stories use to create tension and a cast that is biblical in breadth. An angel, a devil, a not quite a virgin mother and her workingman husband. A dystopian tale of plague and absolution, with a mostly happy ending. If you haven’t read it before, read it now. If it’s already in your library, read it again. You’ll be glad you did.

Fahrenheit 451

Fahrenheit 451 – Ray Bradbury

Ray Bradbury had few equals in 20th century American literature. The foundation of his writing was a vivid and unbounded imagination. Horror, fantasy, speculative fiction, romance, he operated beyond the usual genre limits. Bradbury took you somewhere in the first few pages and then he turned left and turned left again.

This book is particularly haunting. The “Fireman” sets fires, rather than put them out: “It was a pleasure to burn.” Real relationships and intimacy are gutted through the unreality of a constant television flow. Books are burned. One day it all makes sense, and the next you’re running for your life. A true classic mid-century dystopia.

Brave New World

Brave New World – Aldous Huxley

This book is another masterpiece of dystopian fiction. Unlike 1984, Huxley’s focus is conformity within a set of boundaries that most of his characters seem more than willing to accept. Bad feelings got you down? Take drugs. Looking for passion or intimacy? Have meaningless sex. Huxley’s vision of a totalitarian culture dominated by orgy porgy hours and soma addiction is not generally taught in Bible Belt high schools. The sex scenes just aren’t grim enough.

1984: Alternative Facts Sourcebook

1984 – George Orwell

A classic work of dystopian fiction, based almost entirely on the realities of living in Stalin’s Russia of the 1930s. Winston Smith replaces yesterday’s lies with today’s lies for the Ministry of Truth and hates every minute of it. When he’s not busy altering reality or chanting “We Love You Big Brother,” he goes to great lengths to have meaningless sex with a woman he barely knows. The sex scenes are so depressing that teachers everywhere in Bible Belt America don’t think twice about assigning this book to high school students. Totalitarian fascism sucks in so many ways, and most of them are catalogued in this book.