Tag: Dystopia

World without Antibiotics

Sepsis: a systemic response to infection. The body gone wild. A reaction disproportionate to its cause, one that refuses to respect the division between hearts and limbs. Diagnosing sepsis requires a sense of proper proportions. And in Surgeon X, a comic series ...

The Bingewatch: #Resist

After November’s election, I only wanted to watch normporn. Craving fallible yet manicured characters whose gaffes—provoked by pain mired in class privilege—always culminated in tear-jerking ...

Atlas Mugged

If the books of our time tell us anything anymore, capitalism has jumped the shark. Not even its most erudite defenders and critics know what to say about its future—the sense of an ending saturates ...

Speculative Pulp Fiction

Margaret Atwood’s most recent novel, The Heart Goes Last, began as an unusual digital experiment. Starting in March 2012, the website Byliner played host to the “Positron series,” a sequence of ...

Bro Uprising

With Pierce Brown’s lately concluded Red Rising trilogy, the phenomenon of the blockbuster Young Adult dystopian novel that brought us The Hunger Games and Divergent has reached its eye-popping ...

Orange Alert

In our post-9/11 era, the phrase “national security” has become all too familiar. A simple Google search yields over 361,000,000 results, ranging from the National Security Council homepage to op-eds ...

Afrofuturism: Everything and Nothing

Whence the “Afro” in “Afrofuturism”? In the 1994 interview with Samuel R. Delaney that inaugurated the term, Mark Dery defines Afrofuturism as “speculative fiction that treats African American themes ...

Chick Lit Meets the Avant-Garde

Ask the average critic, professor, or reader to name an experimental novelist and they will more likely name a man—Pynchon, DeLillo, Foster Wallace—than a woman—Tillman, Winterson, Lessing. Ask them ...

Le Guin’s Anarchist Aesthetics

What makes readers fall in love? You might want to start your answer by explaining Ursula Le Guin. I can only speak for one childhood—and one adulthood—spent reading Le Guin, but I’d bet my last ...

Drought Lit

For the last several summers I’ve spent August in the Central Valley of California, swimming twice a day and eating guacamole for dinner. During the same last few years, the state’s drought, already ...

Searching for Purpose

Near-extinction stories are nearly as old as the human species, from Noah’s flood to 20th-century narratives about nuclear holocaust (1950s–60s) and pandemics (1970s–80s), to the current spate of ...

A Global Neuromancer

Neuromancer is now more than 30 years old, a considerable time to remain a classic. Its publication in the Orwellian year will seem ironic and laden with symbolism only for those who think Orwell has ...

The Post-Apocalyptic Present

Post-apocalyptic fiction used to be disreputable, a source of pulpy thrills and nuclear terror. Flourishing in the post-World War II period, works like Leigh Brackett’s The Long Tomorrow (1955), John ...

Shakespeare Off the Grid

Emily St. John Mandel’s new novel, Station Eleven, a finalist for the 2014 National Book Award in Fiction, depicts a world radically depopulated by a vicious outbreak of superflu. A traveling ...

Sleep and Synchronicity

Two spectacularly haunting new works of fiction share a frightening and resonant premise: a world in which sleep is disappearing. Insomnia has a storied history, of course, as both ailment and plot ...

Adventure Capitalists

William Gibson has become a reluctant prophet for cyberculture. Although his early work failed to imagine some technological particulars (like the smart phone), he foresaw that cyberspace—a term he ...