If you’re exploring dystopian fiction, you might be wondering “What are examples of dystopia?” Dystopian fiction is one genre of books that can be difficult to define. If you like a lot of conflict in your literature, a book set in a dystopia might be the perfect fit for you.
Examples of Dystopia in Fiction
Some of the best examples of dystopian novels emerged in the 1930s and 1940s, and writers have never stopped exploring this unique genre.
A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess
Always Coming Home by Ursula K. Le Guin
Futuristic Northern California, U.S.A.
Animal Farm by George Orwell
Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand
Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick
Post-apocalyptic San Francisco, U.S.A
Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
Feed by M.T. Anderson
Near future U.S.A.
Lord of the Flies by William Golding
Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel
Post-pandemic Great Lakes Region, U.S.A.
The Children of Men by P.D. James
The City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau
Futuristic underground city called Ember
The Giver by Lois Lowry
Undisclosed futuristic community
The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
The Iron Heel by Jack London
San Francisco, U.S.A.
“The Lottery” by Shirley Jackson
Undisclosed rural community
The Road by Cormac McCarthy
Post-apocalyptic Southern U.S.A.
The Running Man by Richard Bachman (Stephen King)
The Time Machine by H.G. Wells
Uglies by Scott Westerfeld
Uglyville, New Pretty Town, the Smoke
We by Yevgeny Zamyatin
The One State
The basic definition of dystopia is “An imaginary place where the state of being is very bad or oppressive.” The word dystopia comes from Greek root words that mean “bad place.” A dystopia is the opposite of a utopia, or idyllic place.
Definition of Dystopian Fiction
Dystopian fiction is a work of speculative fiction that depicts a dystopian society or dystopian place. The author often makes up the society or place along with the other elements of the fictional piece.
Elements of Dystopian Fiction
While there are different types of dystopias, works of dystopian fiction have a few common themes, or elements that make them dystopias.
- government control - either no government or an oppressive government
- environmental destruction - setting is a place that has been or will be destroyed or is uninhabitable
- loss of individualism - the dangers of conformity are highlighted
- society is the antagonist - protagonists fight against the status quo
- survival - the people who live in the society are often left to fend for themselves
- technological control - advances in technology are used to control or instill fear
Types of Dystopia
Some categorize dystopias into four groups based on what type of group controls society.
- bureaucratic control - a government with relentless regulations rules
- corporate control - a large corporation controls people through media or products
- philosophical/religious control - an ideology enforced by the government controls society
- technological control - computers, robots, or science helps control people
The Future or Fictional Dystopia?
Fictional dystopias are often inspired by real events, groups, or places, then extrapolated to a future setting from the far reaches of the imagination. They make readers think about complex political and societal issues. What dystopian novels have influenced your thinking?