Nathan Bransford, Author

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

What's the most prescient book you've ever read?

Given our political climate, there have been all sorts of reevaluations of classic political dystopias, from It Can't Happen Here to 1984 to The Plot Against America

It got me thinking. What's the most prescient book you've ever read? Which book was ahead of its time in predicting where society is going?

There are lots that I can think of, but for a recent example I'd have to go with Cory Doctorow's Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom, the novel that blended the commercialization of everything with the concept of "whuffie," social currency that now feels incredibly apt in the social media era.

What about you?

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Art: Crystal Ball by John William Waterhouse


Rebel Rider said...

Luckily, most of the more recent dystopian stories haven't come to pass yet, but I did think of one.
Unwind by Neal Shusterman predicted the selling of human body parts before the Planned Parenthood incident. (In Unwind, it's teenagers who are being hacked up and sold, in real life, it's aborted babies, which was a problem before abortion was outlawed in the Unwind universe.)

Rachel Eliason said...

Octavia Butler's Parable books are frighteningly prescient. There is an apocalypse of sorts made up of economic and environmental problems that just get out of hand. A demagogue gets himself elected by claiming he'll "Make America Great Again." He riles up the fears of the religious conservatives to let him get away with getting rid of people he doesn't like.
The Handmaid Tale is another one. I reread that book recently and can't wait for the Hulu show.
Either way people need to wake up to the possibilities and fiction is one way to do that.

Anonymous said...

Fahrenheit 451 is an obvious one, with all the forms of censorship going on. We saw the subtle build up to censorship during the election, with the left silencing anyone who disagrees with them through name calling and intimidation. And when they lost, instead of learning anything from that (or learning anything from Ray Bradbury), they just ampted it up. Freedom of speech is suddenly up for debate. And that is by far the creepiest, most unsettling thing going on right now.

JOHN T. SHEA said...

Stephen King's 1982 'Richard Bachman' novel 'THE RUNNING MAN' ends with an airliner crashing into a skyscraper, nearly 20 years before 9/11. But the 1987 movie ended quite differently. There's a similar scene in the 1978 movie 'THE MEDUSA TOUCH', where a 747 crashes into a London skyscraper, though I don't know if it's in the Peter Van Greenaway novel on which the movie is based.

Bryan Russell said...

It's funny, I was actually thinking of one of Stephen King's other Bachman novel: Rage. A scary foreshadowing of the school shootings to come.

david hanley said...

Every year or two i observe some event, and think "this is straight out of atlas shrugged"

literary_lottie said...

The Handmaid's Tale is becoming all too real - even Margaret Atwood acknowledges that we're closer to her story than ever before.

I'm currently reading New York 2140 by Kim Stanely Robinson, set in a not-too-distant future where New York City has flooded due to rising sea levels from global warming, and its citizens have been forced to adapt. It's not so much a dystopia as it is a blueprint for how we'll cope when the inevitable happens.

"in real life, it's aborted babies [being hacked up and sold by Planned Parenthood]" This story has been fact-checked and disproven multiple times by both journalists and a federal court. Just FYI. (Though apparently Schustermann wrote Unwind after being inspired by a - possibly apocryphal - news story of a black-market for baby parts in Eastern Europe. The babies were born live, however; not aborted. But murdering people to profit off their bodies has happened for centuries - Burke and Hare made an art form of it.)

Anonymous said...

Uh... The planned parenthood thing has abosutely NOT been disproven. Certainly not in federal court. Even Snopes (a far left liberal fact checker) has it marked as "Mixed". Which is generous, considering the video evidence. But I think the distinction in comparing Unwinded to Planned Perenthood is that we're talking about the institutionalized selling of baby body parts, not an illegal black market. For example, Planned Parenthood tried to argue that it was ok to sell baby body parts so long as they had the mother's consent.

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