July 24, 2014

July 24, 2014

One Wrong Thing

Much of the dystopian fantasy and science fiction I read—and you know I love me some dystopia—involves a world very different from our own. Verily, authors in the genre have chosen one or all of the following for the settings of their works: 

Nuclear war
Alien invasion
Existence of magic
Self-aware technology
Collapse of government/civil society

You get the idea. One of the best dystopian books I read last year was Wool, which involves remnants of humanity living in underground silos. Though it was gripping from start to finish, I recommended it neither to you nor to friend-of-blog P (for whose pleasure I read most books) because a lot of belief has to be suspended in order to get from here to there. (Unless you are, in fact, living in an underground silo. If so, carry on.)

Lately, then, I’ve been enjoying a few books that change just one thing and consider how humanity might react. Forget for a moment that I generally cheer against humanity, and allow me to recommend some selections.

The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker. What if the world literally stopped spinning? Already discussed.

The Returned by Jason Mott. What if dead people suddenly showed back up, looking and acting as they were before they died? Emotional toll notwithstanding, think of the logistics.

Brilliance by Marcus Sakey. What if 1% of people were born with savant abilities? If they could understand facial expressions, or recognize patterns, or memorize information without limit? Think X-Men without the laser eyes and weather manipulation. What are the normal people to do?

Enjoyable as the completely mindblowing dystopias are (see: Games, Hunger), it's even more chilling when fantasy is only a step or two removed from reality.

0 Fish in a Sea of Diet Coke: