Dark Futures: Introduction

Every year I set myself a reading list – it started as a way of motivation myself, in the midst of parenthood, and work, and everything else that life throws at me, to keep reading, and to keep expanding what I was reading, rather than simply retreading the same patterns as my younger self. Most of this has been reading genres new to me – classics, crime fiction, and last year, Fantasy, which the lovely folks at Geek Syndicate were happy to let me publish on their site under the badly punned title “Tolkien Gestures”.

So this year, there is another list. At times, whilst reading Fantasy, I felt the genre was too vast for a 20 book list that was comprehensive, and so I’ve gone for a tighter subject this time, albeit one that perhaps isn’t a genre in its own right. In fact, it’s the sort of subject matter that straddles the murky line between “proper” literature and genre fiction (an arbitrary distinction at the best of times) and so should be be pretty varied in both its concepts and execution.

So, without further ado, the reading list for “Dark Futures

(1) The Time Machine – HG Wells (1895)
(2) Brave New World – Aldous Huxley (1932)
(3) 1984 – George Orwell (1948)
(4) Fahrenheit 451 – Ray Bradbury (1953)
(5) I am Legend – Richard Matheson (1954)
(6) The Chysalids – John Whyndam (1955)
(7) On the Beach – Neil Shute (1957)
(8) A Canticle for Leibowitz – Walter M Miller Jnr (1960)
(9) A Clockwork Orange – Anthony Burgess (1962)
(10) The Drowned World – J G Ballard (1962)
(11) Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said – Phillip K Dick (1974)
(12) Neuromancer – William Gibson (1984)
(13) The Hand Maidens Tale – Margaret Atwood (1985)
(14) Children of the Dust – Louise Lawrence (1985)
(15) The Postman – David Brin (1985)
(16) The Children of Men – P D James (1992)
(17) Jennifer Government – Max Barry (2003)
(18) World War Z – Max Brooks (2006)
(19) The Road – Cormac McCarthy (2006)

The final slot, as before, is reserved for a final, whimsical choice at the end of the year.

Its a more varied list than I thought when setting out, and thanks to everyone who commented on twitter, email or the Geek Syndicate Forums as I was putting it together. What leaps out the most to me is the dates – this is very much a post-nuclear subgenre it seems, even with stories that don’t on the face of it contain much in the way of nuclear war. It’s also a subgenre that has inspired many films, TV series and comics that don’t appear, and if I get time I’ll post up some thoughts on those too.

Reviews should be up fortnightly, and any comments or feedback, either here, or via twitter (@thegrampus), email (thegrampus(at)googlemail.com) or on the GS forums would be greatly appreciated.

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