“Utopias are boring. Dystopias, on the other hand, are interesting.” – Robert Silverberg
The outside world has become unforgiving; your only hope for survival is to live deep underground. Those who long for a chance to experience the unknown are given the worst sentence: They are sent to experience the cruelties of the world outside. Hugh Howey makes the dangers of the outdoors a reality in his bestselling Wool series. The success of the series has inspired renewed interest in... dystopian fiction, so we’ve gathered a collection of novels that we think you will enjoy as much as Wool.
Written nearly forty years before Howey’s series, William Hjortsberg’s Gray Matters explores similar themes to Wool, which even Hjortsberg noticed upon the book’s release. Gray Matters confronts the possibility of immortality in a future after the devastation of World War III. Here, dead brains are preserved for the possibility of a second life. Although the brains spend their time in relative peace, training for the day they can return to a body and a peaceful existence, the facility’s most famous resident, Skeets Kalbfleischer, is creating problems. Killed in a plane crash at twelve years old, Skeets still dreams of being a cowboy, disrupting plans for creating an enlightened, zen race.
Robert Silverberg takes mind control to new levels with his novels. To Live Again imagines a future in which humans are able to live forever—as part of someone else’s mind. These transplants never fully take over human bodies, but “consult” with their hosts, offering their personas and thoughts. But this harmonious arrangement takes a sinister turn when the mind of Paul Kaufmann, the richest and most powerful man on Earth, become available and the desire to have it results in a deadly race for those who want to make the most out of their mortal lives. The Second Trip details a future where capital punishment is foregone in favor of erasing a criminal’s personality—and replacing it with an artificially constructed personality that can be useful to society. Just released from therapy, Paul Macy quickly realizes that his old personality, rapist Nat Hamlins, has not been successfully repressed. Despite Paul’s best efforts to block out Nat, he continues to emerge, and is intent on erasing Paul, even if it means killing both of them in the process.
Each story in Octavia Butler’s Bloodchild & Other Stories revolves around dystopian worlds, but the title story puts a twist in dealing with body possession. Rather than humans trying to extend their lives, their bodies are used as tools to extend the lives of their alien overlords. On a foreign planet, human children are raised to become hosts for the offspring of the Tlic alien species. They are led to believe it is a painless process, and it is presented as a privilege. When one human finally realizes the barbarity of becoming a host, he must decide whether to fight for all of humanity, or for his own well-being.
William Shatner’s TekWar series takes drug dealing to new and futuristic heights. Jim Cardigan, one of Los Angeles’s toughest cops in the 22nd century, no longer gets a high from bringing justice to the streets. Instead he turns to Tek, an illegal computerized brain stimulant that allows his greatest fantasies to become his reality. He quickly becomes addicted—and falsely convicted of dealing the stimulant. He is sentenced to fifteen year of suspended animation and stripped of his badge, but he is awakened four years later and becomes entangled in the search for the real Tek lords.
In Ellen Datlow’s Alien Sex anthology we find a raunchy dystopian story that doubles as social commentary. The story Passengers has both lust and tragedy. Humans exist under the threat of the “Passengers” beings that are able to temporarily take over bodies and wreak havoc on society. Because a person can be taken any time, people avoid relationships and when people are being “ridden,” the rest of society ignores them. When a victim is released, he has no memory of the incident and others never mention his antics. But as with all foolproof plans, there is always a hitch. The narrator of the story can remember being ridden, and he fights against the accepted norms to connect with a fellow victim he remembers during his ride.
Like Gray Matters, Elizabeth Hand’s Winterlong explores the dangers of human engineering for selfish reasons, and its disastrous results. Wendy Wanders has been augmented with the ability to tap into patients’ emotions and memories for the sake of “therapy.” Although she was autistic as a child, she has been “fixed” to the point where she is highly empathic—but not entirely cured. When the lab she is housed in is attacked, she escapes with a lab assistant, but finds the outside world is not much better.
We hope that these ebooks will satisfy the craving for dystopian fiction that Wool has undoubtedly created. And while these classics may have imagined a world that still does not exist, who knows what will come in the next century . . .
The Eternal Wonder, Found Forty Years After It Was Written, Will Be Introduced to Readers in October 2013
(May 22, 2013)—Open Road Integrated Media, a digital publisher and multimedia content company, and InkWell Management, just announced a recently discovered novel by Pulitzer Prize– and Nobel Prize–winning author Pearl S. Buck, titled The Eternal Wonder. Buck wrote this moving and mesmerizing book shortly before she passed away in 1973. Forty years... later, in January 2013, the manuscript was found in storage and brought to Open Road, Buck’s digital publisher. The Eternal Wonder will be published by Open Road on October 22, 2013, both in digital format and in a beautifully packaged paperback edition.
In a joint statement, Jane Friedman of Open Road, Michael Carlisle of InkWell, and Edgar S. Walsh, Buck's son, said, “We are thrilled to discover and publish a novel by one of only two American women to ever win both the Nobel and Pulitzer prizes. The Eternal Wonder is as brilliant and inspiring as Pearl Buck’s most famous works, and we look forward to readers across the world getting to enjoy this long-lost masterpiece this fall along with Buck’s other wonderful books.”
The Eternal Wonder, an Open Road E-riginal, is a personal and passionate fictional exploration of the themes that meant so much to Buck in her life. It tells the coming-of-age story of Randolph Colfax, an extraordinarily gifted young man whose search for meaning and purpose leads him to New York, England, Paris, a mission patrolling the demilitarized zone in Korea that will change his life forever—and, ultimately, to love.
Open Road currently digitally publishes and markets twenty-eight other titles from Buck’s renowned backlist, including The Big Wave, The Promise, A House Divided, and Buck's Pulitzer Prize–winner, The Good Earth. Born in Hillsboro, West Virginia, Buck was the daughter of missionaries and spent much of the first half of her life in China, where many of her books are set. In 1934, civil unrest in China forced Buck back to the United States. Throughout her life, she worked in support of civil and women’s rights, and established Welcome House, the first international, interracial adoption agency. For her body of work, Buck was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1938, the first American woman to do so.
About Open Road Integrated Media
Open Road Integrated Media is a digital publisher and multimedia content company. Open Road creates connections between authors and their audiences by marketing its ebooks through a new proprietary online platform, which uses premium video content and social media. Open Road has published ebooks from legendary authors including William Styron, Pat Conroy, Alice Walker, James Jones, and Virginia Hamilton.