It was amazing, astounding, this loss of communication with the world. It was exactly as if the world had ceased, been blotted out. …With the coming of the Scarlet Death the world fell apart, absolutely, irretrievably.
– The Scarlet Plague, by Jack London
Just a handful of years after the novella quoted above came out, the world was plunged into a global pandemic that claimed over 50 million lives. Jack London didn’t live to see it, but he had recently witnessed the ominous return of the Black Death, a startling outbreak of bubonic plague in turn-of-the-century San Francisco that is recounted in David Randall’s Black Death at the Golden Gate. What’s more, he had the foresight to know that worse – much worse – was to come:
Now this is the strange thing about these germs. There were always new ones coming to live in men’s bodies. …the more men there were, the more thickly were they packed together on the earth, the more new kinds of germs became diseases. There were warnings. Soldervetzsky, as early as 1929, told the bacteriologists that they had no guaranty against some new disease, a thousand times more deadly than any they knew, arising and killing by the hundreds of millions and even by the billion.
While not all of the predictions in London’s vision of America circa 2013 ring true – personal dirigibles, anyone? – his pandemic prophecies have only gained force. In H.G. Wells’ The War of the Worlds, humankind is saved by micro-organisms; in London’s The Scarlet Plague, these same germs turn on us, and almost win. Looking back from the year 2073 on the devastation, an old man attempts to teach his grandsons how to relight the torch of civilization, with the aid of that most precious tool: books! Continue reading “Pandemic Post-Apocalyptic Podcast”
We always love it when worthwhile, interesting books are adapted to film or TV, as it invariably means that a multitude of readers will be drawn to the source. As sales figures and waiting lists and libraries attest, this has been quite a year for Margaret Atwood’s landmark 1985 dystopia The Handmaid’s Tale, owing largely to the recent Hulu series, as well as the current political climate. If you’re waiting for a copy – or if you’ve already read it – why not tap into the diverse tradition of feminist science fiction that explores gender and society in provocative and visionary ways.
Continue reading “Beyond The Handmaid’s Tale: Feminist Dystopia & Utopia”
~posted by Lindsay S.
While the words ‘science fiction’ still bring to mind spaceships and alien invaders, the genre has grown over the years. We at SPL have designed a science fiction checklist to help you navigate this expansive genre and all its facets. We hope you’ll explore the many worlds of science-fiction and find a favorite sub-genre of your very own. Continue reading “The Science Fiction Checklist Challenge: Beginning with Endings”
Dystopian fiction is all the rage at the moment, but grim visions of the world as it might become, or as it already is, are nothing new. Here are some masterful views of our world glimpsed through a glass darkly that are perennially popular with our readers, and with good reason.
The Handmaid’s Tale
A day is coming soon when women will know their place: to clean, to breed, and to minister to their husbands’ needs. For many, that day may already be here.
The Master and Margarita
The devil and his talking cat come to Moscow and find themselves right at home. Hilarious, beguiling and mind-bending, this surreal satire is a Continue reading “Cult Classics: Nightmare Visions”
The leaves are falling, the bubble has been popped for awhile now, and the holidays are right around the corner, which means it’s the best time to read dystopian fiction! Knowing these characters have it worse of then we do definitely puts a spring back in my step.
In Shades of Grey by Jasper Fforde society is based on a Colortocracy. Those lucky enough to see the higher end of the color spectrum live in a higher social class. Eddie Russett, a lower level Red, has one goal: to marry into the Oxblood family in order to ensure a higher familial red count. However, this goal goes array when he commits a violation that sends him to East Carmine, a city on the Outer Fringes. He is sent to do a chair census and once there meets Jane, a Grey who instantly captures his heart. Although Jane is a lowly servant girl Eddie will risk all he ever wanted for her attentions. Continue reading “It’s the End of the World As We Know It”