Dystopian fiction is popular in modern young adult novels, but imagining a bleak future has been a topic for novelists since the 1800s. How many of these miserable (though not necessarily hopeless) worlds have you visited? Find out with this quiz.
In this 1992 novel, made into a movie in 2006, worldwide infertility has caused a general collapse as looming human extinction and an aging population leads to apathy and totalitarian governments.
"Love Among the Ruins"
"The Children of Men"
"The Last Gene"
In this classic novel, conflict between sentient animals and human farmers is used as an allegory for real-world political struggles.
A massive prison world controlled by a merciless artificial intelligence is the setting for this 2007 novel by Catherine Fisher.
"The Gaoler's Eye"
This Jules Verne novel might be one of the first works of dystopian fiction, though it wasn't published until 1994. In it he describes life in 1960 Paris, a place where technology and commerce dominate life.
"A Floating City"
"But at What Cost?"
"Paris in the Twentieth Century"
Ursula K. Le Guin wrote this novel about a man whose dreams become reality, creating worse and worse alternate worlds under the influence of a power-hungry therapist.
"The Man Who Dreamed"
"City of Illusions"
"The Lathe of Heaven"
This novel by Koushun Takami depicts students forced to engage in brutal and deadly televised battles as a means of keeping the population intimidated and under the control of a Japanese police state.
This Suzanne Collins 2008 novel has similar themes to "Battle Royale," pitting children against children in a death match that divides and represses a postapocalyptic America.
"The Hunger Games"
"All Along the Watchtower"
"The Bar Code Tattoo"
This 2004 novel is made up of six interwoven stories, including a dystopian Korea where fabricated people are used as slave labor and a postapocalyptic Hawaii.
"The Space Merchants"
In this 1962 novel, young men give in to their violent inclinations but are reconditioned while in prison by the Ludovico Technique, which causes the mere thought of violence to make them collapse with nausea.
"A Clockwork Orange"
"I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream"
This Kurt Vonnegut short story depicts a world where equality is enforced by crippling anyone who has above-average physical and mental attributes, including the title character, who would be superhuman were he not weighted down and rendered nearly blind.
This 2006 novel by Cormac McCarthy about a father and son traveling across an obliterated postapocalyptic world is a particularly crushing read, even as dystopian novels go.
In this 2003 novel by Jeanne DuPrau, an underground city is built as a refuge from some catastrophe. However, more than 200 years have passed, supplies are running low, and the inhabitants have forgotten where they are, why they're there or how to escape.
"Beyond the Night"
"The City of Ember"
Margaret Atwood wrote this novel in 1985. It's about a nation controlled by religious fundamentalists who place severe restrictions on women's rights.
"The Northern Line"
"The Handmaid's Tale"
"The Bone Season"
This 1967 novel is about a society where population and resources are so strictly controlled that anyone over age 21 is killed by agents of the state.
In this 1953 Ray Bradbury novel, books are illegal and squads of firemen patrol the country to burn any they find.
"Something Wicked This Way Comes"
Pat Frank wrote this novel, one of the first about a nuclear apocalypse. It shows residents of Florida trying to survive and form a community after an atomic war with the Soviet Union.
"On the Beach"
"The Derringer Contingency"
E.M. Forster wrote this novella in 1909. It's about a future in which humans live underground, rarely leaving their cells and spending their time communicating via electronic messages. They become subservient and dependent upon a totalitarian Machine.
"The Machine Stops"
David Foster Wallace depicts a unified U.S.-Canadian state in which corporations bid for the naming rights to each calendar year in this lengthy novel set partly at a tennis academy.
"All Tomorrow's Parties"
This 1920 Czech play by Karel Capek gave us the term "robot." It's about a society where manufactured people (more like clones than mechanical robots) are used as laborers.
Philip K. Dick wrote this novel about a bounty hunter tracking escaped replicants, genetically crafted androids difficult to distinguish from humans.
"Vanity of Man"
"Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?"
This French novel seems to be about an alien planet controlled by intelligent simians, but it turns out to be about a future Earth where humans have been usurped by other primates.
"Planet of the Apes"
Sinclair Lewis wrote this satirical novel in 1935, fueled by his fears of fascism in Europe. The novel shows a popular congressman winning a presidential election by stoking the electorate's fears and feeding nationalist and "traditional values" sentiments, taking totalitarian control of the country with his own force of stormtroopers.
"Go East, Young Man"
"It Can't Happen Here"
In this Margaret Atwood novel, a degenerate human race lives in compounds named for long-gone corporations. A sex drug is widely marketed but actually spreads a deadly plague.
"The Year of the Flood"
"Locke and Key"
"Oryx and Crake"
In this novel, human culture is dominated by a deeply immersive online game that holds a valuable prize. Success depends on pop culture knowledge and video game skill.
"Ready Player One"
"Lord of the Flies"
This novel is about a society under constant government surveillance and repression so insidious it uses language to control the populace's thoughts. It even gave us a word for such a concept: Orwellian.
"The Republic of the Future"
This massively influential novel by William Gibson created the entire genre of cyberpunk, built on a corporate-dominated world of massive cities and immersive computer networks.
"The Diamond Age"
"A Scanner Darkly"
In this Heinlein novel, students are sent to a distant planet for what they think is a survival test that will last a few days. Instead they are stranded, forced to fend for themselves and create and sustain their own community.
"Stranger in a Strange Land"
"Tunnel in the Sky"
Paolo Bacigalupi wrote this novel set in Thailand in a future ravaged by climate change and rising sea levels, where corporate control of genetically engineered crops creates systems of dependence and control.
"The City & the City"
"The Windup Girl"
Neal Stephenson's third novel is about language as a computer virus, and it's set in a United States that has dissolved into corporate compounds patrolled by private armies.
This famous dystopian novel by Aldous Huxley is ironically titled. Like much early 20th century dystopian fiction, it describes how humans might react to changes in technology and government control.