Our Worst Futures: The Dystopian Fiction Quiz


By: Staff

4 Min Quiz

Image: refer to hsw

About This Quiz

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.

"The Children of Men" was written by P.D. James.


In this classic novel, conflict between sentient animals and human farmers is used as an allegory for real-world political struggles.

George Orwell's "Animal Farm" is a commentary on repressive governments and political propaganda.


A massive prison world controlled by a merciless artificial intelligence is the setting for this 2007 novel by Catherine Fisher.

"Incarceron" was followed by a sequel, "Sapphique."


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.

Written in 1863, "Paris in the Twentieth Century" seems to predict many aspects of modern life accurately.


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 Lathe of Heaven" was published in 1971.


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.

"Battle Royale" was controversial when published in 1999 and has been adapted several times.


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" became a best-selling trilogy and successful film series.


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.

"Cloud Atlas" was written by David Mitchell.


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.

Anthony Burgess' "A Clockwork Orange" was made into an iconic and controversial movie by Stanley Kubrick.


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.

Harrison Bergeron tries to overthrow the repressive government when he escapes from prison.


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.

If you read "The Road," you're probably going to cry several times.


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.

"The City of Ember" was the first of a trilogy about the city's inhabitants and their eventual escape.


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 Handmaid's Tale" is considered one of the best Canadian science fiction novels.


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.

"Logan's Run" was written by William F. Nolan and George Clayton Johnson.


In this 1953 Ray Bradbury novel, books are illegal and squads of firemen patrol the country to burn any they find.

Bradbury titled "Fahrenheit 451" after the temperature at which books supposedly catch fire.


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.

The title of "Alas, Babylon" was drawn from a Bible passage and is used in the novel as a military code phrase for an impending war.


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 eventual deterioration of the Machine in "The Machine Stops" destroys human civilization entirely.


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.

"Infinite Jest" was published in 1996.


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.

"R.U.R." stands for "<i>Rossumovi Univerzalni Roboti</i>," usually translated as Rossum's Universal Robots.


Philip K. Dick wrote this novel about a bounty hunter tracking escaped replicants, genetically crafted androids difficult to distinguish from humans.

"Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?" was famously made into the classic sci-fi movie "Blade Runner."


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" was written by Pierre Boulle.


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.

The point of "It Can’t Happen Here" is, of course, that it certainly can.


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.

"Oryx and Crake" are the protagonist's closest friends.


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" was written by Ernest Cline.


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.

George Orwell's "1984" is both a satire of fascist regimes of the early 20th century and a terrifyingly accurate glimpse of repression in the 21st.


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.

"Neuromancer" was released in 1984, and many aspects of it barely feel like science fiction today.


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.

"Tunnel in the Sky" is a bit like "Lord of the Flies" in space.


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.

In "The Windup Girl," which was published in 2009, mechanically wound springs are the primary source of power.


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.

"Snow Crash" is a term Stephenson used to describe a certain type of failure in the early days of personal computers.


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.

"Brave New World," published in 1931, includes worship of Henry Ford, population control, frequent drug use and a view of solitary activities as abnormal and suspicious.


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