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  • Jen Harper 2:00 pm on 2019/10/02 Permalink
    Tags: 1984, , , , , , , , , , naomi alderman, , , , , the power, , , yoko ogawa   

    8 Books to Read if You Loved The Testaments, September’s B&N Book Club Selection 

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    The Barnes & Noble Book Club selection for September, Margaret Atwood’s The Testaments, picks up more than 15 years after the events in her original classic The Handmaid’s Tale. Though the theocratic regime remains in the Republic of Gilead, signs abound that it’s the beginning of the end for the patriarchal power. Poised for revenge, Aunt Lydia is now old and dying, but she has no intention to leave this world without taking down some people with her in this captivating tale that fans won’t be able to put down. But what is a reader to do after finishing this incredible book and discussing it at your local B&N Book Club meeting on Wednesday, October 9th at 7 p.m.? We’ve rounded up 8 more reads to keep you busy until next month. Check out our readalike picks for The Testaments.

    The Handmaid’s Tale, by Margaret Atwood
    After reading the sequel, you may want to revisit Atwood’s instant classic that started it all. The dystopian future novel focuses on Offred, an enslaved Handmaid to the Commander and his wife in the Republic of Gilead—which was once known as the United States—an oppressive monotheocracy in which women have no rights and are only as valuable as their reproductive systems are viable. Offred only has her memories of a time when she had her freedom, a job, a husband, a child, a life of her own. And now she’s not even permitted to read and is only allowed to leave the house once a day to go to the food market. It’s a reality that seems all at once surreal and prescient to readers who won’t soon forget The Handmaid’s Tale or its powerful sequel.

    Station Eleven, by Emily St. John Mandel
    Kirstin Raymonde is just 8 years old, acting in a production of King Lear in Toronto when the show’s star, Hollywood-famous Arthur Leander, dies on stage of a heart attack. On the very same night, a flu pandemic is spreading across the world, wiping out civilization in Emily St. John Mandel’s spellbinding National Book Award finalist that will appeal to fans of Atwood’s latest dystopian tale. Kirsten can’t find her parents, and she and her older brother must try to survive this bleak new reality. We pick back up with Kirsten 20 years later—she has joined up with a traveling Shakespeare troupe called the Traveling Symphony, determined to bring art to those that remain to remind the survivors that humanity can indeed still exist.

    1984, by George Orwell
    Much like Atwood’s The Testaments, George Orwell’s 1984, written 70 years ago, feels chillingly prophetic in today’s climate. A masterpiece of dystopian fiction, Orwell’s tale offers his profound take on the effects of government surveillance, oppression, and revisionist history. In the tale, Winston Smith is a government employee for the Ministry of Truth, altering historical records to reflect the storyline preferred by the Party, who punishes anyone for even thinking negatively about the government—after all, Big Brother is always watching. Thus Winston has been secretly writing his thoughts in a diary, and one day, when he sees a girl staring, he naturally assumes she’s onto him. But Julia is also a rebel, and soon the two attempt to have a relationship and form a bond that simply isn’t allowed in this society.

    Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley
    Fans of alarmingly prophetic dystopias would also do well not to miss (or, if it’s been a few decades, to revisit) Aldous Huxley’s ruthless, timeless, terrifying vision of a world that seems, in the current climate, jarringly famillier. This classic is often contrasted with the more overtly dark dystopian novel 1984, but it also offers an interesting counterpoint to the world depicted in The Handmaid’s Tale (in it, reproduction is also managed by the government, but in this case, it has been completely divorced from humanity, and babies are genetically engineered and grown in jars.) Brave New World finds humanity completely controlled by the state—but this control is implemented not through fear and subjugation, but by keeping people so distracted by trivial entertainment, state-sanctioned tranquilizing drugs, and government-approved promiscuity that they barely notice or care about their lack of personal freedom.

    The Power, by Naomi Alderman
    Have you ever heard a woman say she always knows where men are on any given street she’s walking on…like she has eyes in the back of her head? This novel imagines that men might be the ones who have something to fear, when teenage girls can torture and kill if they want to. Follow four perspectives of people whose lives are irrevocably altered when this power emerges, and remember the metaphor that Handmaid’s Tale and its sequel also drive home: that the power for evil is certainly within us, and if provoked, we can unleash it.

    The Memory Police, by Yoko Ogawa
    Ogawa’s dystopian tale about government surveillance and control is a perfect next read for fans of Atwood’s The Testaments. Objects, people, and even concepts are disappearing from the island—and it’s happening at a more rapid pace by the day. Most people on the island don’t even notice, but some are able to remember the things lost to the Memory Police—and these people live in fear of the draconian enforcement group. When a young novelist finds out that her editor has been targeted by the Memory Police, she hides him away in a secret room in her house, where they cling to her writing as a way to preserve the past and their relationship as a means for preserving their humanity. This novel was longlisted for the National Book Award for Translated Literature.

    Never Let Me Go, by Kazuo Ishiguro
    In Ishiguro’s dystopian sci-fi novel, Kathy, Ruth, and Tommy all grew up attending an exclusive private school together in the English countryside, where the students were sheltered from reality. The children always knew that they were somehow special, but their uniqueness was shrouded in mystery. Now, as adults, the threesome has come back together as 31-year-old Kathy is serving as a “carer” for Ruth and Tommy prior to becoming a “donor” herself in this haunting novel in which an oppressed underclass exists solely to act as organ banks to keep other people alive longer—and the underclass doesn’t understand their unavoidable destiny until it’s too late.

    Vox, by Christina Dalcher
    Vox‘s entire premise is based on the silencing of women, literally: allotted only 100 words per day and violently punished if they exceed it, women in this version of America have been robbed of their voices, their careers, and their dignity. But when one former cognitive linguist (aka, a scientist of words) is recruited by the higher echelon of the government to work on a cure for a Very Important Person’s brain injury impacting their speech, she decides that this (and her added allotment of words per day) is her opportunity to seek justice. Not just for her, but for her young daughter, who has grown up being silent, and her teenage son, whom she watches becoming more indoctrinated into this toxic system each day. A gripping read with twists and turns you won’t see coming!

    What books would you recommend for fans of The Testaments?

    The post 8 Books to Read if You Loved <i>The Testaments</i>, September’s B&N Book Club Selection appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

  • Ross Johnson 4:01 am on 2019/06/28 Permalink
    Tags: 1984, blue velvet, , , , , funny games, hedwig and the angry inchdo the right thing, , nineteen eighty-four, notorious, the brd trilogy   

    10 Amazing New Additions to the Criterion Collection Included in Our 50% Off Sale 

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    The Criterion Collection has long been known for offering a world-class presentation of its carefully curated library of films from around the world, but we’re more impressed with each passing year at the growing diversity of the movies included. Each month, Criterion releases DVDs and Blu-Rays of films both contemporary and classic—landmark works you’ve definitely heard of and plenty you almost certainly haven’t; well-regarded critical favorites and weird cult classics.

    In recognition of the return of our semi-annual Criterion Collection 50% off sale, now through August 4 in stores and online, we’re highlighting 10 of our favorite recent releases—though there are plenty more where they came from.

    Alfred Hitchcock’s incredibly long career is virtually unmatched in not just quantity, but in the number of his films that can be justifiably be considered among the best ever made (there are seven of them in the Criterion Collection, for one thing). Notorious is sometimes eclipsed by Hitchcock’s later works, but it’s a masterpiece on par with anything else he directed—if not the best film he ever made. Ingrid Bergman is the daughter of a German spy recruited to infiltrate a Nazi cabal, and Cary Grant is her handler. The two develop and attraction that can’t interfere with her mission: seduce a Nazi industrialist hiding in Brazil. It’s an incredibly effective thriller a black & white visual stunner, made more clear than ever by this new 4K restoration.

    Blue Velvet
    It’s tempting to call this David Lynch’s most mainstream film, but that’s true only in the sense that it’s his most seen and talked about, a pre-Twin Peaks sensation that’s been wildly influential even if no one has ever been able to duplicate its disturbing, darkly funny, but somehow still human touch. It begins with Jeffrey Beaumont’s (Kyle MacLachlan) discovery of a severed ear in a field and leads into a mystery that rips the pleasant veneer off of small-town life. The cast, including Laura Dern, Isabella Rossellini, and Dennis Hopper, is one for the ages, and the new Criterion edition has features an incredible array of special features, including almost an hour of deleted scenes curated by David Lynch himself.

    Do the Right Thing
    Spike Lee’s first masterpiece is thirty years old and has never been more relevant, nor more essential. Lee himself stars as delivery man Mookie for a pizzeria owned by Danny Aiello’s Sal. On one particularly hot day in Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn tensions between the neighborhood’s strata of residents explodes into violence. While the film pulls no punches, especially with regard to police violence and racism, Lee’s portrait of a community of eccentrics (played by a talented cast that includes Rosie Perez, Ossie Davis, Ruby Dee, and Samuel L. Jackson in his first major role) is so well-drawn, the humanity shines through. The Criterion edition includes a commentary track and vintage music videos among its many extra features.

    The BRD Trilogy
    Courting controversy throughout his short, prolific career, Rainer Werner Fassbinder created films that were provocative and art-minded, willfully throwing aside commercial concerns in favor of smaller budgets and more personal stories as he developed a filmography that would make him one of the leading lights of what came to be called New German Cinema. His BRD trilogy (for Bundesrepublic Deutschland, the common name for what was then West Germany) includes three of his most beloved (and successful) works, tracing the story of postwar Germany through the lives of three different women in The Marriage of Maria Braun, Veronika Voss, and Lola. All three films are newly restored and accompanied by commentary tracks, vintage documentaries, and much more.

    Funny Games
    Michael Haneke’s thriller Funny Games does not mess around. A pair of white-gloved young men break into the vacation home of an upper-class couple and subject them to relentless and escalating tortures over the course of a single night. With fourth wall-breaking asides, the young men draw us into their sadistic games, making the movie into something of an statement about our fascination with film violence. It’s sometimes hard to watch, but impossible to look away from. This fresh, director-supervised restoration includes new interviews among its special features.

    Nineteen Eighty-Four
    The newest sci-fi addition to the Criterion Collection is a film with remarkable currency in our own time—said everyone since the original George Orwell novel was published shortly after the end of World War II. This visually striking and emotionally harrowing British production, directed by Michael Radford (Il Postino) came out in the year of the novel’s title and setting but is no mere opportunistic cash-in, bringing the stark oppression of the classic text to vivid life. In a time of endless surveillance and constant war, John Hurt stars as a disaffected citizen who risks everything for a relationship with a rebel, defying culturally mandated conformity in the name of freedom and individuality. The new 4K restoration presents the cinematography of Academy Award-winner Roger Deakins in its best light, and the bonus features include a choice of alternate scores—one in the classical mold from Radford’s preferred composer Dominic Muldowney; the other a studio-mandated ’80s pop take from the Eurythmics.

    Though perhaps not as well known today as some of the other groundbreaking American films of the early 1970s, Alan J. Pakula’s conspiracy thriller Klute deserves to be remembered, if only for Jane Fonda’s Oscar-winning performance. She plays Bree Daniels, a woman central to a missing-person investigation led by Donald Sutherland’s John Klute that only grows twistier and seedier as he dives deeper into a world of corruption. It’s Fonda’s frank performance as a call girl and aspiring actress that’s the real highlight here—she owns the screen, creating a woman who doesn’t play to any of the good girl/bad girl notions of earlier (and later) films—film critic Roger Ebert even suggested the movie should’ve been named Bree, after her character. In the bonus features, Fonda appears in new and vintage interviews.

    Police Story/Police Story 2
    Jackie Chan broke out of his native Hong Kong to become an international icon with this pair of action comedies, which stand with the very best of their kind—that being over-the-top ballets of brilliantly choreographed, over-the-top action . Chan plays Hong King police inspector Ka-Kui alongside his long suffering girlfriend played by Maggie Cheung, who also became a star thanks to these two films. It’s non-stop action of the wildest, most inventive kind, backed by an ’80s-style electro soundtrack. It seems like an odd inclusion among the Criterion Collection’s library of more staid dramas, but the fight choreography alone makes this duology a wildly entertaining work of art, presented here in a revelatory restoration that has then looking better than ever before.

    Hedwig and the Angry Inch
    Utterly unclassifiable, this modern queer classic from director John Cameron Mitchell (adapting his Off-Broadway one-woman show, revived years later on the Great White Way) is a pulse-pounding rock opera starring Mitchell as the genderqueer Hedwig Robinson, an East German boy who reinvents herself in America as a stunning and glamorous rock diva with the help of music inspired by the androgynous, David Bowie-esque rock of the ’70s, made timeless by composer Stephen Trask. Hedwig’s journey of self-discovery and search for love is gorgeous phantasmagoria that was ahead of its time when released in 2001, and is only slightly less so today. Never before available in high definition, it has been newly restored for this long-anticipated special edition, which includes deleted scenes and a documentary tracing its journey from the stage to the screen.

    Swing Time
    If you’re looking for a musical romp that represents the golden age of Hollywood, you’d have a hard time topping this quintessential Fred Astaire/Ginger Rogers fantasy. Astaire plays Lucky Garnett, a gambler who has to earn $25,000 in order to prove himself to the father of the woman he intends to marry. The set-up leads to a run-in with dance instructor Penny (Rogers), but the plot is entirely secondary to the gorgeous black-and-white cinematography and the stunningly choreographed and impeccably performed dance numbers. Many of the songs are classics, but the real draw is the perfect chemistry between the leads: Astaire is everything, and Rogers is everything… in heels. This newly restored edition includes a documentary on the film’s music and choreography.

    Shop all Blu-rays & DVDs in the Criterion Collection for 50% off at Barnes & Noble, now through August 4.

    The post 10 Amazing New Additions to the Criterion Collection Included in Our 50% Off Sale appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

  • Brian Boone 5:00 pm on 2018/01/04 Permalink
    Tags: 1984, , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   

    6 Classic Books That Almost Had Completely Different Titles 

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    Have you ever written a book? It’s very, very hard. Writers have to come up with thousands of perfect words and arrange them just so to create a thrilling and original narrative that also expresses their worldview via memorable and compelling characters. Doing all that requires a set of long-form expression skills, which is quite the opposite of coming up with a title—or encapsulating the entire novel into a handful of well-chosen words. A lot of writers can’t make a book and then also come up with a great title—the latter could and maybe should be up to editors and the marketing department. Here are some beloved classic novels whose authors nearly cursed with a terrible title. 

    Where the Wild Horses Are, by Maurice Sendak
    Where the Wild Things Are is a universally beloved childhood favorite. That’s probably because it’s a lot of fun, but also a little bit scary, and Maurice Sendak never coddles or placates the reader. The friendly monsters called “Wild Things” are so well and mysteriously named that its perplexing that Sendak only called the book what he did to solve a problem. He’d initially planned to write Where the Wild Horses Are. Except that when he sat down to illustrate, he had a really hard time drawing horses. Horses became “Things” and the book’s name changed, too.  

    Tomorrow is Another Day, by Margaret Mitchell
    Let’s get real: Gone with the Wind is a powerful, epic tale of war, love, self-respect, proto-feminism, and believing in onself…but it’s also a bit of a soap opera. As such, Margaret Mitchell nearly stuck her Pulitzer Prize-winning Civil War novel with a number of soapy titles, such as Tote the Weary Load, Bugles Sang True, and Not in Our Stars. Still, the book almost went to print under the name Tomorrow is Another Day…even though that’s a total spoiler for the book’s moving final line. Ultimately Mitchell found the best title from “Non sum qualis eram bonae sub regno Cynarae,” a poem by 19th century French poet Ernest Dowson. 

    Something That Happened, by John Steinbeck
    John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men is history’s second-best Great Depression novel, second only to Steinbeck’s The Grapes of WrathAs such, it’s a sad tale about desperate men doing desperate things, and Steinbeck reportedly wanted to make sure that the novel didn’t judge the characters one way or the other for the book’s violent conclusion. He tried to express that by going full objective journalism for the title, which is so nonjudgmental that it’s kind of hilarious. He changed his mind when he found some words that said the same thing, that humans are victims of fate, only more poetically. They were in a poem, in fact: Robert Burns’ “Of Mice and Men.” 

    The Last Man in Europe, by George Orwell
    Up until a few months before publication, Orwell was going to call, his novel about a future dystopian totalitarian state in which Big Brother was always watching The Last Man in Europe. At virtually the last minute, Orwell’s publishers asked him to come up something more commercial than what sounds like a book about the last human alive after a zombie apocalypse. His solution: the blunt, ominous far-off futuristic year in which the scary book took place: 1984.  

    Trimalchio in West Egg, by F. Scott Fitzgerald
    F. Scott Fitzgerald suggested many high-fallutin’ titles for what ultimately became The Great Gatsby, his book about the rise and fall of the personification of the American Dream in the Jazz Age. Under the Red, White, and Blue was a little too on the nose, as was Gold-Hatted Gatsby. The High-Bounding Lover was just a little-too-1920s. Fitzgerald also really wanted to call his book Trimalchio in West Egg. The latter part reflects the book’s setting; the first part is a literary reference to Trimalchio, a character who enjoys life in obscene excess in the 1st century Roman book The Satyricon. 

    Panasonic, by Don DeLillo
    DeLillo’s meditation on modern life and its many pollutants was titled Panasonic reportedly up to the last round of galleys. But then the Matsushita Corporation, which controlled the trademark of the well-known consumer electronics company, wouldn’t grant permission. So White Noise it was.

    What working titles of classic books are you glad were ultimately revised?

    The post 6 Classic Books That Almost Had Completely Different Titles appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

  • Ella Cosmo 3:30 pm on 2015/07/02 Permalink
    Tags: 1984, be afraid, , , , , lullaby, , scarlett thomas   

    5 Fictional Books Too Dangerous To Read 

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    Literature is powerful: books have inspired revolutions and renaissances, toppled kingdoms and changed the course of human existence. But books themselves aren’t dangerous—that is, unless you’re talking about any of the fictional books-within-a-book below. From the simply malicious to the deeply malevolent, all of them are definitely dangerous, and sometimes even deadly.

    The King in Yellow, by Robert W. Chambers
    On its surface, Chambers’s The King in Yellow is simply a collection of eerie short stories. But fans of the supernatural know this cult classic is far more Heart of Darkness than The Gift of the Magi. Each story is loosely connected by variations to a darkly terrifying fictional play entitled The King in Yellow. Wisely, Chambers allows readers only glimpses of the actual text or scenes from the play itself, instead focusing on the horrific ramifications for anyone who reads it or watches a performance—which brings upon the victim an insanity and despair so vast their mind breaks. Think I’m exaggerating how addictively scary The King in Yellow is to readers?  Just know it’s so goosebump-inducing, it was referenced in HBO’s series True Detectiveand has inspired writers like Neil Gaiman and H.P. Lovecraft.

    Necronomicon: The Best Weird Tales of H.P. Lovecraft, by H.P. Lovecraft
    Speaking of the master of the creeping horror genre, no roundup of books hazardous to your health would be complete without H.P. Lovecraft’s Necronomicon, a fictional book of magic vastly regarded as the ultimate in dark, evil, and dangerous literature. Supposedly written by the so-called “Mad Arab” Abdul Alhazred, the grimoire appeared for the first time in Lovecraft’s short story “The Hound.” References to and excerpts from the Necronomicon are interspersed throughout many of his short stories and novellas, and these fleeting and rare mentions are more than enough—the excerpts referenced by Lovecraft are so chilling (“The Call of Cthulhu” still makes me shudder) and the power it wields over the reader so terrible that some people claim the Necronomicon must be a real book.

    The End of Mr. Y, by Scarlett Thomas
    The End of Mr. Y is surprisingly gritty for a novel with such a philosophical and escapist premise. This is in no small part due to its protagonist, Ariel Manto, a journalist with a voracious appetite for the intellectual whose grim surroundings and messy personal life don’t reflect the ordered world in her mind. Manto is obsessed with the author of a novel titled The End of Mr. Y—an obsession that blossomed after being told anyone who reads the accursed novel will die. While the reader can correctly predict she will in fact both find and read the book, they can also be guaranteed that what follows will be like nothing they’ve ever read. Manto is thrust into an alternate place known as the Troposphere, a world made manifest by human consciousness that removes the limits of the mind. For someone of Manto’s intellectually curiosity, the temptation to immerse herself in the Troposphere is too strong. But all is not what it seems. There’s mischief afoot and dark forces lurking in the shadows of the Troposphere—and the intellectual freedom Manto finds there may come at the cost of her life.

    1984, by George Orwell
    1984 is masterpiece of dystopian fiction. In the 60 years since its publication, Orwell’s profound take on government surveillance and the effects of oppression on the human psyche has become firmly entrenched in the cultural and political lexicon. It also contains a powerful book within a book, The Theory and Practice of Oligarchical Collectivism. Written by a feared and hunted opponent of the state, the text is “a terrible book, a compendium of all the heresies, of which Goldstein was the author and which circulated clandestinely here and there. It was a book without a title. People referred to it, if at all, simply as The Book.” Unlike the other fictional tomes on this list, “The Book,”  despite the terror it invokes, is ultimately a catalyst for good rather than evil, leading the protagonist Winston Smith to fight, however fleetingly, against the tyranny of big government.

    Lullaby, by Chuck Palahniuk
    In Palahniuk’s Lullaby, a children’s book is the source of a unique and terrifying outbreak. Simply named Poems & Rhymes, the book’s dark magic is triggered by reading the lullabies written inside; doing so imbues the reader with the power to kill instantly. This dark magic is uncovered by reporter Carl Streator, who embarks upon a breakneck quest to stop the spread of the infection by any means necessary. Accompanied by what can only be described as a ragtag group of co-adventurers, the novel is by turns refreshingly humorous and terrifying, keeping readers on their toes. Lullaby is one of those books that keeps you up late at night, because you just have to find out what happens next. Almost as though the power of Lullaby has infected you, too…

    What dangerous books have we missed? Tell us in the comments, if you dare.

  • Ellen Wehle 5:30 pm on 2014/09/29 Permalink
    Tags: 1984, 5 Classics I've Never Read, do androids dream of electric sheep?, dystopian classics, , , , , orx and crake, , the lathe of heaven, the year of the flood, this perfect day, ursula leguin   

    5 Can’t-Miss Classics of Dystopian Fiction 

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    Dystopian Novels

    For as long as we’ve had visions of utopia and perfect bliss, we’ve also envisioned the opposite. Mad scientists, thought police, totalitarian governments…in these grim versions of the future, there’s no shortage of villains. Always, however, the real culprit is human nature. If you enjoyed recent dystopian reads like  The Hunger Games trilogy and California, check out the dystopian classics that came first:

    The Maddaddam Books: Oryx and Crake, The Year of the Flood, and Maddaddam, by Margaret Atwood
    Convinced the human race is beyond hope, a scientist named Crake releases a deadly plague, but not before creating a new race of his own. His bioengineered “Crakers” are, like Adam and Eve, perfect beings meant to inherit the earth. The second book gives us deeper insight into Crake, showing us the world he grew up in, a world where consumer culture has run mad and religious cults like “God’s Gardeners” protest futilely against uber-corporations. Atwood does the just-about-impossible, making us pity (or at least understand) a man who’d like to wipe out humanity. Finally, one of the plague survivors, now confined to a fortified compound, relates this history to the Children of Crake, bringing the trilogy to a bittersweet close.

    1984, by George Orwell
    Winston Smith is a government employee of the Ministry of Truth, altering historical records to reflect whatever story the Party prefers. Even negative thoughts against the Party can be punished, and at home, in secret, Winston has been writing his thoughts in a diary. So it’s hardly surprising that when he catches a pretty girl staring, his first response is to fear she may be onto him. But Julia is also a rebel, and soon the two are meeting for trysts, taking the greatest risk of all—falling in love—in a society where every move is watched by Big Brother.

    This Perfect Day, by Ira Levin
    If you haven’t heard of this 1970 novel (which is entirely possible, as it seems to fly under the radar), get ready to stay up all night reading. Though Levin is better known for Rosemary’s Baby, to my mind This Perfect Day is his masterpiece. Under the benevolent control of a computer called Uni, the world’s population is peaceful and happy, provided they take their monthly drugs. Initially the hero, Chip, is a conformist: when his grandfather warns him Uni has a dark side, six-year-old Chip promptly reports him to the authorities. Years later his grandfather’s words return to him, and a rebel leader is born.

    The Lathe of Heaven, by Ursula K. Le Guin
    Once again, the desire to do good results in terrible evil. George Orr has a power he can’t control: whatever he dreams turns into reality. His psychiatrist, Dr. Haber, sees the potential to improve society and begins giving George suggestions while he’s under hypnosis. But in true Frankenstein fashion, each improvement only triggers more pain. Hunger, overpopulation? Haber whispers in his ear, and George wakes to a world where millions have died in a plague. Another whisper and alien spaceships land on earth. Soon the very fabric of reality is at risk.

    Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, by Philip K. Dick
    San Francisco, 2021. Bounty hunter Rick Deckard tracks down escaped androids and ruthlessly “retires” them. Rick uses an empathy test to avoid killing humans by mistake: if they fail, the theory goes, they must be android. The irony, of course, is that Rick himself would never pass the test. Locked in a loveless marriage, his one desire is to own a non-mechanical animal, now (owing to mass extinctions) the ultimate status symbol. While Ridley Scott’s movie version, Blade Runner, differs widely from the book, both are marvelous, portraying a human race on the brink of losing all emotion. Enjoy both versions and compare—especially the endings.

    What’s your favorite classic dystopian novel?

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