What Are Examples of Dystopia? 23 Fictional Societies

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. 

example of dystopia futuristic cityexample of dystopia futuristic city

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. 

Novel

Dystopian Society

1984 by George Orwell

Oceania

A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess

Futuristic England

Always Coming Home by Ursula K. Le Guin

Futuristic Northern California, U.S.A.

Animal Farm by George Orwell

Dystopian England

Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand

Dystopian U.S.A.

Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

Futuristic England

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

Post-apocalyptic San Francisco, U.S.A

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

Futuristic U.S.A.

Feed by M.T. Anderson

Near future U.S.A.

Lord of the Flies by William Golding

Unnamed Island

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

Post-pandemic Great Lakes Region, U.S.A.

The Children of Men by P.D. James

Futuristic England

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

Gilead

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

Panem

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)

Futuristic U.S.A. 

The Time Machine by H.G. Wells

Futuristic England

Uglies by Scott Westerfeld

Uglyville, New Pretty Town, the Smoke

We by Yevgeny Zamyatin

The One State

Dystopia Definition

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?

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