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May 11, 2011 / Leslie

5 Best Books … That Take Place In The Future

Cassandra at Indie Reader Houston hosts 5 Best Books, a weekly meme that asks participants to list what they consider the 5 best books on a given topic.

This week’s topic is 5 Best Books … that take place in the future.

This is another week where I could easily choose more than five books on this topic. I have read a lot of science fiction and those stories tend to spend a lot of time in the future. Rather than choose recent fiction I decided to dig back into the past and choose a few of my old favorites and perhaps provide some new old books for people to discover.
 

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?
by Philip K. Dick

This book was the basis for the movie Blade Runner. The novel is set in a post-apocalyptic near future after a global nuclear war. Rick Deckard is a bounty hunter who tracks down renegade androids. Where does that strange title come from? Animals are rare and most have gone extinct from radioactive fallout. The few remaining animals are endangered and to own one is a sign of status. Rick had a live sheep but it died so he replaced it with a synthetic, or electric, sheep. P.K. Dick is one of my favorite science fiction writers. I probably could have chosen any number of his dark, disturbing, dystopian works as a favorite.
 

A Canticle for Leibowitz
by Walter M. Miller Jr.

This post-apocalyptic science fiction novel was written in 1960 probably as a warning about nuclear annihilation. It begins about 600 years in the future in a Roman Catholic monastery in the desert of the southwestern United States after civilization has been destroyed by a global nuclear war. The monks are tasked with preserving the surviving remnants of man’s scientific knowledge. The book is divided into 3 sections each moving further into the future. The overriding theme is that history is cyclical and man doesn’t learn from his mistakes.
 

The Space Merchants
by Cyril M. Kornbluth, Frederik Pohl

This was written in the 1950s and takes place some time in the 23rd century. I read this back in 1976 and absolutely loved it. The future world in this prescient novel is ruled by advertising agencies and big businesses who hold all the political power. While I don’t remember the plot details, I do recall that it’s a dark, satirical look at advertising and over the years I have referred back to it when I’d comment on a manipulative ad and say, “just like in Space Merchants“. Probably time for a re-read. It’s a short book and if you’ve never read it, it’s still available and in print.

The Postman
by David Brin

Published in 1985, this post-apocalyptic novel takes place in Pacific Northwest about the year 2012. A nuclear war has caused massive destruction and all communication technology has been destroyed. People now live in small towns and are isolated from each other. A man comes across a dead postal worker and puts on his uniform to keep warm. He then takes on the role of postal inspector and travels from town to town bringing them news and mail. This was made into a movie but I recommend the book instead. The movie changes the story; it was better as a book.
 

Nineteen Eighty-Four
by George Orwell

I have to mention this book, one of the most dystopian novels ever written. References to ‘1984’ often appear in movies and other writing and the language of the book has had a huge cultural impact. Most people are familiar with Winston Smith and his rebellion against Big Brother and the resulting consequences. In a bit of irony, Amazon Kindle owners found this book had been deleted from their libraries without notice because of copyright issues in the US.

11 Comments

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  1. Cassandra @ Indie Reader Houston / May 11 2011 12:52 pm

    Wow! 1984 is the only one I recognize. I think I’m going to have to have a future-themed readathon this summer.

    Thanks for sharing!

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    • Leslie / May 11 2011 3:06 pm

      I like reading the other lists too. I’m finding future books I never heard of and I read a lot of scifi.

      Like

  2. BermudaOnion / May 11 2011 2:45 pm

    The only one I’ve read is 1984, and that’s because I had to. I’m not much for sci-fi.

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  3. Leeswammes / May 11 2011 2:45 pm

    I read 1984 (I think) and I’ve heard of the P. K. Dick book. The others look interesting, especially the Postman. It’s great to see some really new (old) books here. I’m going to put some of them on my wishlist.

    Thanks for the list.

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    • Leslie / May 11 2011 3:05 pm

      Postman was very good but the one I recommend is A Canticle for Leibowitz. It’s a very thought provoking book and has stayed with me since I first read it in the 70s.

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      • Leeswammes / May 11 2011 3:19 pm

        That must be good! I can tell a book is good if I remember it even after a long time.

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  4. Suko / May 11 2011 3:29 pm

    I have not read nearly as much sci-fi as you, Leslie. I enjoy it, but it’s not my usual choice. I will, though, keep your list in mind for the future (oops!). Like many others, I’ve read the classic 1984, although I am probably due for a reread.

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  5. TheBookGirl / May 12 2011 7:46 am

    Like the other posters, I’ve read 1984. Even tho I don’t read much sci-fi, I found this post really interesting. I appreciate that you picked older books — I am off now to see if my library has A Canticle for Leibowitz; that’s the one that struck me most. Thanks!

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  6. cbjames / May 14 2011 8:27 am

    The only one I haven’t read it The Space Merchants. I heard an interview with Mr. Pohl on Starship Sofa a few months ago. Even though I’ve only read one of his many, many novels, I found him a fascinating interview. He’s one of those writers who have been around since the beginnings of the genre, with lots of stories to tell. I’ll look for this book.

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    • Leslie / May 14 2011 8:12 pm

      This is my favorite Pohl book. It holds up well considering it was written in the 1950s, and he was pretty much on target in predicting business and advertising would grab more and more power.

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  7. Meg / May 17 2011 2:31 pm

    These are all new to me, too — and I really need to read 1984! There are so many contemporary classics that fell through the cracks of my education, including this one. Fahrenheit 451 is another!

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