To go with my future-looking Earth Day poem, I thought I'd share a list of some dystopian novels. I've also noticed the Dystopian Challenge going around, so perhaps I'll find some more that I haven't read, in other people's book choices.
1. The Chrysalids / John Wyndham : a classic story of David and his baby sister Petra, who live in a post-apocalyptic world where genetic mutations are forbidden. Mutated livestock are killed, mutated humans are banished to the unliveable regions known as The Fringes. David and Petra realize they are mutations, but not obvious ones - they are telepathic. When it is discovered, they flee to the Fringes, pursued by zealots including their father. Rescue is at hand, and they are taken to a new civilization in what was once New Zealand.
2. The Children of Men / P.D. James : a dark, dark story about a world in which all women are infertile. Civilization is breaking down, there are wars and environmental disasters and rabid xenophobia (wait, is this supposed to be imaginary?). One disconnected man is pulled back into life when he is entrusted with the safety of one young woman, a special woman, as she is pregnant. Recent movie was pretty good, though with some graphically violent scenes.
3. A Scientific Romance / Ronald Wright : David Lambert, a scientist, is present for the rematerialization of H.G. Wells' time machine in a deserted apartment in England, circa 2000. He jumps in and sends himself 500 years into the future, where he discovers the ruins of London. It is clear that something has gone very wrong with humankind's future prospects, and it is up to David to figure out what has caused England to become both semi-tropical and utterly deserted.
4. The Handmaid's Tale / Margaret Atwood : in Gilead, a fundamentalist future society, women have strictly regimented roles. There are dress laws and regulations governing every element of a woman's life. Offred, a handmaiden, is supposed to bear a child for her master, Fred, and his wife. As he is likely sterile, she becomes pregnant by another household employee, and then has to be smuggled out of Gilead. Hard to summarize this one; but I was especially impressed by the afterword, Offred's official story that she has recorded before disappearing.
5. The Forever Formula / Robert Bonham : a 17 yr. old boy wakes up from a long nap. A very long nap; his neighbour has kidnapped and cryogenically frozen him, to awaken him in the far future. The boy's father was a scientist who discovered a formula to allow people to live forever; when the boy wakes he realizes that this formula did not also provide eternal youth. Many people are now after him, believing that he has the formula for youth tucked away in his brain somewhere. A wonderfully active story, I read this repeatedly in middle school.
Oh, yes, for extra fun, try Ray Bradbury's story The Pedestrian, where a hapless writer gets arrested for taking a walk at night, while everyone else is inside with their televisions.