The year in review: When Trump and tech dystopia nonfiction took over

There were books on who and what predicted Trump; books rushed to publication to analyze the rise of Trump and the early days of his presidency; books whose marketing points were modified to address Trump (“Never more relevant!”); old books that took on a new profile (Orwell, Atwood) in the emerging Trump era.

But adjacent to the consuming Trump narrative, there have been other important trends in publishing. A renewed concern with civil and human rights, for example, or a spotlight on a free press and economic disparity. And more and more, inspired writing on the place where it all increasingly plays out: the internet.

Zoe Quinn’s Crash Override is a look back at GamerGate from one of its principal targets, and a suggested a way forward from online mobbing. Adam Alter’s Irresistible examines the methods that keep us refreshing our screens, while the stultifying long-term effects on our children is explored in Jean M. Twenge’s iGen.

is a look back at GamerGate from one of its principal targets, and a suggested a way forward from online mobbing. Adam Alter’s

examines the methods that keep us refreshing our screens, while the stultifying long-term effects on our children is explored in Jean M. Twenge’s iGen.

But two 2017 books took an even broader view – or paradoxically, a narrow one – with a focus on only a handful of players: the so-called FANG companies (Facebook, Amazon, Netflix and Google), as well as Apple. Former New Republic editor Franklin Foer’s World Without Mind is ably summed up by its subtitle, The Existential Threat of Big Tech ; while Scott Galloway’s The Four is a more pragmatic, if whimsically depressing analysis of the intents and trajectories of Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google. ( The New York Times ‘s Farhad Manjoo swaps Netflix for Microsoft in his version of the above, the ” Frightful Five .”)

But two 2017 books took an even broader view – or paradoxically, a narrow one – with a focus on only a handful of players: the so-called FANG companies (Facebook, Amazon, Netflix and Google), as well as Apple. Former

is a more pragmatic, if whimsically depressing analysis of the intents and trajectories of Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google. (

Writers – whether their focus is tech, economics, politics, or culture – are increasingly grappling with the demise of internet as free, as enabling, as an exploder of gatekeepers and monopolies. In his recent essay The Death of the Internet , the Outline’s Joshua Topolsky stresses how dangerous this is – alongside the simultaneous rise of trolls, and the “gamified” internet of likes, shares, achievements and rewards – because the internet “is” real life. He describes markets where Facebook “is” the internet (You’ve got Facemail!) as a warning sign. And on his podcast Tomorrow, co-host Ryan Houlihan describes an already daily reality where “I use Google, Facebook, and then Amazon Web Services runs everything else.” They sum it up nicely when they joke about nascent Virtual Reality as “this world of infinite possibilities – but only one corporation.”

Writers – whether their focus is tech, economics, politics, or culture – are increasingly grappling with the demise of internet as free, as enabling, as an exploder of gatekeepers and monopolies. In his recent essay

Joshua Topolsky stresses how dangerous this is – alongside the simultaneous rise of trolls, and the “gamified” internet of likes, shares, achievements and rewards – because the internet “is” real life. He describes markets where Facebook “is” the internet (You’ve got Facemail!) as a warning sign. And on his podcast Tomorrow, co-host Ryan Houlihan describes an already daily reality where “I use Google, Facebook, and then Amazon Web Services runs everything else.” They sum it up nicely when they joke about nascent Virtual Reality as “this world of infinite possibilities – but only one corporation.”

Sometimes the tech giants seem so monolithic that in the imagination they all merge into one villain, despite being in fierce competition among themselves. Silicon Valley, in this sense, is an oligopoly of frenemies. And the coverage starts to resemble dystopian fiction – a weird sort of hate-reading pleasure. It’s tempting to make a New Year’s resolution to stop spending so much time online reading about spending so much time online.

The reality of the changing internet may be less dramatic for many of us, with the end of net neutrality instead turning the quotidian web into commercial aviation, with varying service levels, elusive loyalty rewards and parcelled-out pricing for whatever the online equivalent of a snack pack or two inches of legroom is.

Foer’s book is more the former, and Galloway’s more the latter. But that doesn’t make the changes described by either less insidious.

So what’s the benefit of books on a topic that already consumes every 24-hour news cycle? It’s not print romanticism. It is that they are book-length, though. In order to finish them, you need a few sittings – which means you may actually have considered them in the interim. Even if you disagree with points therein, they are more than a hot take to be instantly discarded, or worse, shared but unread. And of course, as long as you’re not on a second screen, they give you an offline break.

See Also : llodo.com

There were books on who and what predicted Trump; books rushed to publication to analyze the rise of Trump and the early days of his presidency; books whose marketing points were modified to address Trump (“Never more relevant!”); old books that took on a new profile (Orwell, Atwood) in the emerging Trump era.

But adjacent to the consuming Trump narrative, there have been other important trends in publishing. A renewed concern with civil and human rights, for example, or a spotlight on a free press and economic disparity. And more and more, inspired writing on the place where it all increasingly plays out: the internet.

Zoe Quinn’s Crash Override is a look back at GamerGate from one of its principal targets, and a suggested a way forward from online mobbing. Adam Alter’s Irresistible examines the methods that keep us refreshing our screens, while the stultifying long-term effects on our children is explored in Jean M. Twenge’s iGen.

is a look back at GamerGate from one of its principal targets, and a suggested a way forward from online mobbing. Adam Alter’s

examines the methods that keep us refreshing our screens, while the stultifying long-term effects on our children is explored in Jean M. Twenge’s iGen.

But two 2017 books took an even broader view – or paradoxically, a narrow one – with a focus on only a handful of players: the so-called FANG companies (Facebook, Amazon, Netflix and Google), as well as Apple. Former New Republic editor Franklin Foer’s World Without Mind is ably summed up by its subtitle, The Existential Threat of Big Tech ; while Scott Galloway’s The Four is a more pragmatic, if whimsically depressing analysis of the intents and trajectories of Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google. ( The New York Times ‘s Farhad Manjoo swaps Netflix for Microsoft in his version of the above, the ” Frightful Five .”)

But two 2017 books took an even broader view – or paradoxically, a narrow one – with a focus on only a handful of players: the so-called FANG companies (Facebook, Amazon, Netflix and Google), as well as Apple. Former

is a more pragmatic, if whimsically depressing analysis of the intents and trajectories of Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google. (

Writers – whether their focus is tech, economics, politics, or culture – are increasingly grappling with the demise of internet as free, as enabling, as an exploder of gatekeepers and monopolies. In his recent essay The Death of the Internet , the Outline’s Joshua Topolsky stresses how dangerous this is – alongside the simultaneous rise of trolls, and the “gamified” internet of likes, shares, achievements and rewards – because the internet “is” real life. He describes markets where Facebook “is” the internet (You’ve got Facemail!) as a warning sign. And on his podcast Tomorrow, co-host Ryan Houlihan describes an already daily reality where “I use Google, Facebook, and then Amazon Web Services runs everything else.” They sum it up nicely when they joke about nascent Virtual Reality as “this world of infinite possibilities – but only one corporation.”

Writers – whether their focus is tech, economics, politics, or culture – are increasingly grappling with the demise of internet as free, as enabling, as an exploder of gatekeepers and monopolies. In his recent essay

Joshua Topolsky stresses how dangerous this is – alongside the simultaneous rise of trolls, and the “gamified” internet of likes, shares, achievements and rewards – because the internet “is” real life. He describes markets where Facebook “is” the internet (You’ve got Facemail!) as a warning sign. And on his podcast Tomorrow, co-host Ryan Houlihan describes an already daily reality where “I use Google, Facebook, and then Amazon Web Services runs everything else.” They sum it up nicely when they joke about nascent Virtual Reality as “this world of infinite possibilities – but only one corporation.”

Sometimes the tech giants seem so monolithic that in the imagination they all merge into one villain, despite being in fierce competition among themselves. Silicon Valley, in this sense, is an oligopoly of frenemies. And the coverage starts to resemble the dystopian fiction itself – a weird sort of hate-reading pleasure. It’s tempting to make a New Year’s resolution to stop spending so much time online reading about spending so much time online.

The reality of the changing internet may be less dramatic for many of us, with the end of net neutrality instead turning the quotidian web into commercial aviation, with varying service levels, elusive loyalty rewards and parcelled-out pricing for whatever the online equivalent of a snack pack or two inches of legroom is.

Foer’s book is more the former, and Galloway’s more the latter. But that doesn’t make the changes described by either less insidious.

So what’s the benefit of books on a topic that already consumes every 24-hour news cycle? It’s not print romanticism. It’s that they are book-length, though. In order to finish them, you need a few sittings – which means you may actually have considered them in the interim. Even if you disagree with points therein, they are more than a hot take to be instantly discarded, or worse, shared but unread. And of course, as long as you’re not on a second screen, they give you an offline break.

See Also : llodo.com

Samsung’s top-end phones have one great thing going for them – they can turn into a full PC. Just plug a Note 8 or S8 into this DeX dock, which itself plugs into any monitor.

The DeX uses the considerable horsepower of the handset to create a PC interface, including the use of a mouse. It’s a brilliant add-on for anyone who already has one of these Samsung smartphones.

It so happens that the best wireless earbuds available under EUR200 are made by Apple. The audio quality is surprisingly good but the real surprise is how well they stay in your ears. They come with a well-designed little recharging box and work with any kind of phone.

This is a stocking filler for someone you know who spends half their life in a car for work. The inexpensive gadget affixes onto a dashboard (or windscreen) and holds the smartphone in place using magnetism. There’s no recharging facility on it, though.

Apple iPad sales are up, partly because of the business-friendly iPad Pro. If you know someone getting one, this is a brilliant accessory. It’s a top quality keyboard and cover in one. The keys are outstanding with great feedback and depth. It’s slightly bulkier than Apple’s own Smart Keyboard combination, but it’s also cheaper.

For the tech-friendly executive who already has an eye toward fitness or sports goals for 2018, this is about the best crossover gadget you can buy. Apple’s latest Series 3 Watch beats all comers when it comes to notifications and app integration (although only for iPhones). Its new waterproof, GPS model also has a growing prowess in fitness and health monitoring.

IPhones may agave much improved cameras, but they have natural limits. This addition breaks through such limits, with a telephoto and ultra wide angle lens that you can just affix on your iPhone. The results aren’t optically perfect, but give excellent flexibility.

No, feature phones are never replacing smartphones again. But the reason this makes a great gift is as a backup: it takes ages to run out of battery life. This means it’s great to pack as an emergency phone if you’re heading off somewhere on business and are unsure about power sources.

So the executive in your life wants to see what all the fuss is about vinyl without committing too hard to the format? Sony’s X300 turntable plays hip records while also retaining a facility to record them digitally for playback on your phone. The quality is reasonable and it doesn’t need a separate standalone amp.

See Also : virtualrealityinsider.com

Though the Next Big Thing won’t appear for a while, we know pretty much what it will look like: a lightweight, always-on wearable that obliterates the divide between the stuff we see on screens and the stuff we see when we look up from our screens. “We know what we really want: AR glasses,” said Oculus’s chief scientist Michael Abrash at Facebook’s F8 developers’ conference in April. “They aren’t here yet, but when they arrive they’re going to be the great transformational technologies of the next 50 years.” He predicted that in the near future, “instead of carrying stylish smartphones everywhere, we’ll be wearing stylish glasses.” And he added that “these glasses will offer AR, VR, and everything in between, and we’ll wear them all day and we’ll use them in every aspect of our lives.”

won’t appear for a while, we know pretty much what it will look like: a lightweight, always-on wearable that obliterates the divide between the stuff we see on screens and the stuff we see when we look up from our screens. “We know what we really want: AR glasses,” said Oculus’s chief scientist Michael Abrash at Facebook’s F8 developers’ conference in April. “They aren’t here yet, but when they arrive they’re going to be the great transformational technologies of the next 50 years.” He predicted that in the near future, “instead of carrying stylish smartphones everywhere, we’ll be wearing stylish glasses.” And he added that “these glasses will offer AR, VR, and everything in between, and we’ll wear them all day and we’ll use them in every aspect of our lives.”

That may seem surprising to those still thinking of mixed-reality wearables as a series of over-promises: Google Glass’s humiliating stumble; Snapchat’s low-selling Spectacles; Magic Leap’s epically late headset; and, um, the disappointing initial sales of Oculus’s own virtual-reality headsets. But you can write those off as baby steps, because all the big companies are going long on augmented reality. In 2018, you’ll see the building blocks on your mobile phones. These are just the earliest attempts at a new technology platform that will eventually have its unveiling as a mainstream, must-have wearable.

Indeed, an augmented reality Manhattan Project has become one of those things–like streaming video entertainment, search engines, and a phalanx of Washington lobbyists–that every self-respecting tech oligarch must have these days. And as far as the future is concerned, tech’s Big Five believe it may be the most important.

There’s been an increasing consensus that artificial reality–the technology that tricks the senses into seeing, hearing, and interacting with digital objects and scenarios as if they are as substantial as the furniture we sit on and the people across from us–will become the Fourth Platform in computing. Each of the previous three uber-platforms, coming roughly every 15 years or so, has been an epochal event, offering an opportunity for reshuffling the power rankings of tech companies. And each threatened the existence of industry leaders blinded by the false sunshine of the Innovator’s Dilemma , which holds that the winners in one round of tech progress are too locked into their victories to bet on the next wave.

There’s been an increasing consensus that artificial reality–the technology that tricks the senses into seeing, hearing, and interacting with digital objects and scenarios as if they are as substantial as the furniture we sit on and the people across from us–will become the Fourth Platform in computing. Each of the previous three uber-platforms, coming roughly every 15 years or so, has been an epochal event, offering an opportunity for reshuffling the power rankings of tech companies. And each threatened the existence of industry leaders blinded by the false sunshine of the

, which holds that the winners in one round of tech progress are too locked into their victories to bet on the next wave.

In the early eighties, personal computing destroyed mini-computer companies, and launched Apple and Microsoft. The mid-nineties saw the explosion of the internet, bushwhacking endless industries and spawning giants like Google and Amazon. The 2007 iPhone kicked off the mobile era; companies going all-in thrived, while those that came late to mobile (yes, I mean, you, Microsoft) suffered.

In the short run, we’re stuck with a landscape ruled by five behemoths (Microsoft has recovered enough to join the cabal). These companies appear so powerful that it would be easy to miss how fragile their futures may be. A new technology platform always forces a new round of musical chairs as the companies that are the first to recognize it and build the tools to support it dominate a new wave. Augmented reality is that new platform. (Some even call it the final computing platform, but that’s really reserved for the inevitable brain implant, which is easily another 15 years out.)

In the short run, we’re stuck with a landscape ruled by five behemoths (Microsoft has recovered enough to join the cabal). These companies appear so powerful that it would be easy to miss how fragile their futures may be. A new technology platform always forces a new round of musical chairs as the companies that are the first to recognize it and build the tools to support it dominate a new wave. Augmented reality is that new platform. (Some even call it the

computing platform, but that’s really reserved for the inevitable brain implant, which is easily another 15 years out.)

Not every company working on post-reality glasses shares an identical vision; some have differing views of how immersive it should be. But all have quietly adopted the implicit assumption that a persistent, wearable artificial reality is the next big thing. The pressure of the competition has forced them to begin releasing interim products, now .

Not every company working on post-reality glasses shares an identical vision; some have differing views of how immersive it should be. But all have quietly adopted the implicit assumption that a persistent, wearable artificial reality is the next big thing. The pressure of the competition has forced them to begin releasing interim products,

When something doesn’t work, the companies can’t afford to give up. Look what happened at Google. One of the most humiliating missteps in its history was the botching of Glass, which started as a geek passion project and wound up as an object of ridicule. Instead of burying the incident, the company persisted. As I reported last summer , Glass is getting great reviews from serious businesses, like manufacturing and health care, giving Google’s parent company Alphabet an apparent edge in actually field-testing the glasses concept.

When something doesn’t work, the companies can’t afford to give up. Look what happened at Google. One of the most humiliating missteps in its history was the botching of Glass, which started as a geek passion project and wound up as an object of ridicule. Instead of burying the incident, the company persisted. As I

, Glass is getting great reviews from serious businesses, like manufacturing and health care, giving Google’s parent company Alphabet an apparent edge in actually field-testing the glasses concept.

Microsoft might beg to differ. It has already released its own device, a more immersive headset called HoloLens . And newer companies dedicated to augmented reality, such as Magic Leap (powered in part by a $350 million Google investment), are pushing the limits of the current science. But you can bet your Bitcoins that Amazon and Apple are also striving to be the Warby Parker of this new paradigm. Just check out some of Apple’s patents . And earlier this month, Amazon joined the fray, introducing a new AWS service to help developers create applications in augmented and virtual reality. Available now in preview, it lets non-VR experts create “scenes” that run on a variety of devices, including Oculus, Gear and Google’s Daydream. Called Sumerian , after the seminal Mesopotamian civilization, it signals Amazon’s belief that its dominance in commerce will extend to an artificial world.

Microsoft might beg to differ. It has already released its own device, a more immersive headset called

(powered in part by a $350 million Google investment), are pushing the limits of the current science. But you can bet your Bitcoins that Amazon and Apple are also striving to be the Warby Parker of this new paradigm. Just check out some of

. And earlier this month, Amazon joined the fray, introducing a new AWS service to help developers create applications in augmented and virtual reality. Available now in preview, it lets non-VR experts create “scenes” that run on a variety of devices, including Oculus, Gear and Google’s Daydream. Called

, after the seminal Mesopotamian civilization, it signals Amazon’s belief that its dominance in commerce will extend to an artificial world.

While we wait for the ultimate augmented reality glasses, 2018’s version of augmented reality involves layering information–from Harry Potter characters to Ikea furniture –onto the live images provided by your mobile phone camera. Apple, Microsoft, Google, and Facebook all are providing deep toolsets for developers to create apps for this approach.

While we wait for the ultimate augmented reality glasses, 2018’s version of augmented reality involves layering information–from

–onto the live images provided by your mobile phone camera. Apple, Microsoft, Google, and Facebook all are providing deep toolsets for developers to create apps for this approach.

All of those efforts are just a test run for the ultimate vision quest: a set of always-on glasses that will blur the line between the physical world and a digital contract made of pure information. The impact on society will be mind-boggling and, in some respects, troubling and even dangerous. But we’ve got maybe between 5 and 15 years to start arguing about those effects. Meanwhile, in secret labs around the world, tech oligarchs and wannabes are hard at work inventing a wave of computing that will literally be in your face. Like it or not, the next field of battle in tech is for your field of vision.

See Also : virtualrealityinsider.com

Free virtual reality (VR) content is always a good thing, and most recently it’s been the turn of Netflix to offer PlayStation VR users something fresh. Stranger Things: The VR Experience is now available to download via the PlayStation Store, free of charge.

Free virtual reality (VR) content is always a good thing, and most recently it’s been the turn of Netflix to offer PlayStation VR users something fresh.

Originally confirmed for release on PlayStation VR back in October of this year, Stranger Things: The VR Experience is an opportunity to visit the house of Joyce Byers after some particularly strange goings-on. What can the alphabet scrawled on the wall mean? Why are there fairy lights hanging everywhere? And what’s up with the telephone?

is an opportunity to visit the house of Joyce Byers after some particularly strange goings-on. What can the alphabet scrawled on the wall mean? Why are there fairy lights hanging everywhere? And what’s up with the telephone?

Fans of the series will be very aware of the trauma that the Byers family has suffered, and what mysteries are hiding behind the odd arrangements in the homestead. Stranger Things: The VR Experience will challenge them to experience the terror of the Upside Down for themselves.

Fans of the series will be very aware of the trauma that the Byers family has suffered, and what mysteries are hiding behind the odd arrangements in the homestead.

Originally a showcase piece at San Diego Comic Con (SDCC) earlier this year, Stranger Things: The VR Experience launches on PlayStation VR with a few technical adjustments. The location-based experience required backpack PCs for a fully free-roaming experience, whereas the PlayStation VR edition is of course adapted for the more limited home-based PlayStation VR hardware.

launches on PlayStation VR with a few technical adjustments. The location-based experience required backpack PCs for a fully free-roaming experience, whereas the PlayStation VR edition is of course adapted for the more limited home-based PlayStation VR hardware.

Stranger Things: The VR Experience requires a set of two PlayStation Move motion-controllers and is not compatible with the DualShock 4 controller. At launch, the experience supports German, English, Italian, French and Spanish languages.

requires a set of two PlayStation Move motion-controllers and is not compatible with the DualShock 4 controller. At launch, the experience supports German, English, Italian, French and Spanish languages.

The latest in a longline of tie-in VR experiences, Stranger Things: The VR Experience follows the recently released Justice League VR: The Complete Experience which has been criticised heavily by the VR community for a lack of depth. Hopes are high that Stranger Things: The VR Experience will live up to the fans’ expectations in the same way that the critically acclaimed second season of the Netflix show has.

will live up to the fans’ expectations in the same way that the critically acclaimed second season of the Netflix show has.

You can download Stranger Things: The VR Experience via the PlayStation Store now , for free. The original debut teaser trailer for the PlayStation VR edition of Stranger Things: The VR Experience follows below and VRFocus will keep you updated with any further free VR content made available for PlayStation VR.

See Also : flipboard.com

One of the big appeals of Netflix’s techno-horror anthology Black Mirror is that it always feels borderline plausible; Charlie Brooker and his team are …

“That’s something that’s been missing for me for a while.” Comparisons have been drawn between Seth MacFarlane’s The Orville and Star Trek: Discovery , … Star Trek

In 2017, America hit bottom. The decades-long period of wage stagnation and the concomitant hidden rise in a new hyper-wealthy and increasingly powerful elite, and the residue of a 2008 financial meltdown that amplified these trends, left the voting public frustrated, confused and tempted to take a …

While promoting his new Netflix film Bright , two-time Oscar nominee Will Smith had some enlightening things to say about the nation. “This is the … Carpool Karaoke

It’s a big bet on streaming–and a move against Netflix. In a potential deal that would make antitrust lawyers blush, the Walt Disney Company announced that it had reached a deal to buy most of the assets of 21st Century Fox, merging two of the largest traditional media companies in the world as they … Walt Disney Company

In a potential deal that would make antitrust lawyers blush, the Walt Disney Company announced that it had reached a deal to buy most of the assets of 21st Century Fox, merging two of the largest traditional media companies in the world as they …

A phenomenal cyberpunk animated short by Mads Broni and Salla Lehmus that envisions a dystopian future in which humans have become so obsessed with …

Mother Jones illustration Looking for news you can trust? Subscribe to our free newsletters. Many of us turn to books to better understand, or escape, … Liberal View

Looking for news you can trust? Subscribe to our free newsletters. Many of us turn to books to better understand, or escape, … Liberal View

A dilapidated amusement park with a million-dollar view. Washuzan Highland was once home to the Guinness World Record for longest rollercoaster ride, … Atlas Obscura

Net neutrality has been getting so many “hot takes” lately, it almost makes you wish someone would be non-neutral about this content and block it. …

In 2016 Merriam-Webster’s word of the year was “surreal,” meaning “marked by the intense irrational reality of a dream.” Handily, that word would best … Feminism

In 2016 Merriam-Webster’s word of the year was “surreal,” meaning “marked by the intense irrational reality of a dream.”

It’s finished. Disney is buying most of Fox for all of the money. After weeks of speculation and an apparent pause in negotiations, it’s now official …

For whatever reason, it seems like the fourth quarter of 2017 has been an absolute golden age of ports hitting the App Store. Playdead’s Inside [Free] …

For whatever reason, it seems like the fourth quarter of 2017 has been an absolute golden age of ports hitting the App Store. Playdead’s

A Dystopian Present In a controversial move, the San Francisco SPCA, an animal advocacy and pet adoption group, is using an autonomous security robot … explicit

In a controversial move, the San Francisco SPCA, an animal advocacy and pet adoption group, is using an autonomous security robot …

In the face of this nauseating existence, there is a long history of pranksterism as an art form and survival mechanism. Who doesn’t like some mischief every now and again? Total Control see this, smirk at it, and invite us along. “Laughing at the system! Laughing at the system!” Dan Stewart, aka …

The best books on the shelves are deserving of the best snacks on the market and these dystopian couplings are guaranteed to make your night. December … Books

The best books on the shelves are deserving of the best snacks on the market and these dystopian couplings are guaranteed to make your night.

Issa Rae, star of HBO’s Insecure , is pitching a dystopian sci-fi series to broadcasters and streaming after launching a diverse writers’ initiative. …

, is pitching a dystopian sci-fi series to broadcasters and streaming after launching a diverse writers’ initiative. …

In a year marked by tragedy, shadowed by oppression, helmed by powerful men supporting racist, sexist agendas, somehow women were able to bulldoze through all of the bullshit in order to affect change – and many of them did it through powerful, inventive TV shows. In the last few years, the push for … TV

In a year marked by tragedy, shadowed by oppression, helmed by powerful men supporting racist, sexist agendas, somehow women were able to bulldoze through all of the bullshit in order to affect change – and many of them did it through powerful, inventive TV shows.

The online retailer Amazon released its list of the most-read Kindle and Audible books of 2017, with Margaret Atwood’s 1985 dystopian novel “The Handmaid’s Tale” taking the top spot in the fiction category. Coming in second on the list, which doesn’t reflect physical book sales, was Stephen King’s … Margaret Atwood

The online retailer Amazon released its list of the most-read Kindle and Audible books of 2017, with Margaret Atwood’s 1985 dystopian novel “The Handmaid’s Tale” taking the top spot in the fiction category.

Spoiler alert, the biggest trend in books during 2017 was U.S. President Donald Trump. There were books on who and what predicted Trump; books rushed … Books

There’s a woman on a bed being asked to look inside a box by a man holding the camera. Dipping her hand inside, she pulls out what looks like a …

The GKids Oscar contender, opening this week in L.A., alternates between the horrific and the comical, assaulting the viewer like a nightmarish Goya …

Public transportation has never looked as cool as this tram by Vince Toulouse , who has put a ton of design consideration into this multi-story …

Are we heading for an apocalypse? With three days to go before the governing party chooses its next leader, dire predictions abound. Scenario one: … News (South Africa)

Are we heading for an apocalypse? With three days to go before the governing party chooses its next leader, dire predictions abound.

I’d like to argue in favor of AI. It would be imprudent to disregard the impact that artificial intelligence has begun to have on almost everything we apprize and take for granted. Maybe its time we championed AI and realized the difference that it can make to our businesses. For too long we have …

Editing and mixing pros behind ‘Dunkirk’ and ‘Blade Runner 2049’ also share their process of creating the chaos of war and a dystopian L.A.: “Every …

Ding! Push notifications are a notorious pain. It’s not the developers’ fault. Push notifications are meant to make a user excited or curious enough to open the app or game and spend more time with it. Push notifications may be benign but they are an annoyance, and apps allow users to disable push … Animal Crossing

Push notifications are a notorious pain. It’s not the developers’ fault. Push notifications are meant to make a user excited or curious enough to open the app or game and spend more time with it. Push notifications may be benign but they are an annoyance, and apps allow users to disable push … Animal Crossing

It’s not the developers’ fault. Push notifications are meant to make a user excited or curious enough to open the app or game and spend more time with it. Push notifications may be benign but they are an annoyance, and apps allow users to disable push …

Hey, remember K5, that security robot that inexplicably has a name closer to the Doctor’s trusty robot dog companion than to the Daleks it actually …

Now would be a good time for America to brush up on its Greek mythology. A flip through The King Must Die , Mary Renault’s exploration of the life of … Aegean Sea

Warcradle Studios has taken over production for the Dystopian Wars line. If you’re a fan of the game, or perhaps looking to see what the new company …

There were books on who and what predicted Trump; books rushed to publication to analyze the rise of Trump and the early days of his presidency; books whose marketing points were modified to address Trump (“Never more relevant!”); old books that took on a new profile (Orwell, Atwood) in the emerging Trump era.

But adjacent to the consuming Trump narrative, there have been other important trends in publishing. A renewed concern with civil and human rights, for example, or a spotlight on a free press and economic disparity. And more and more, inspired writing on the place where it all increasingly plays out: the internet.

Zoe Quinn’s Crash Override is a look back at GamerGate from one of its principal targets, and a suggested a way forward from online mobbing. Adam Alter’s Irresistible examines the methods that keep us refreshing our screens, while the stultifying long-term effects on our children is explored in Jean M. Twenge’s iGen.

is a look back at GamerGate from one of its principal targets, and a suggested a way forward from online mobbing. Adam Alter’s

examines the methods that keep us refreshing our screens, while the stultifying long-term effects on our children is explored in Jean M. Twenge’s iGen.

But two 2017 books took an even broader view – or paradoxically, a narrow one – with a focus on only a handful of players: the so-called FANG companies (Facebook, Amazon, Netflix and Google), as well as Apple. Former New Republic editor Franklin Foer’s World Without Mind is ably summed up by its subtitle, The Existential Threat of Big Tech ; while Scott Galloway’s The Four is a more pragmatic, if whimsically depressing analysis of the intents and trajectories of Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google. ( The New York Times ‘s Farhad Manjoo swaps Netflix for Microsoft in his version of the above, the ” Frightful Five .”)

But two 2017 books took an even broader view – or paradoxically, a narrow one – with a focus on only a handful of players: the so-called FANG companies (Facebook, Amazon, Netflix and Google), as well as Apple. Former

is a more pragmatic, if whimsically depressing analysis of the intents and trajectories of Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google. (

Writers – whether their focus is tech, economics, politics, or culture – are increasingly grappling with the demise of internet as free, as enabling, as an exploder of gatekeepers and monopolies. In his recent essay The Death of the Internet , the Outline’s Joshua Topolsky stresses how dangerous this is – alongside the simultaneous rise of trolls, and the “gamified” internet of likes, shares, achievements and rewards – because the internet “is” real life. He describes markets where Facebook “is” the internet (You’ve got Facemail!) as a warning sign. And on his podcast Tomorrow, co-host Ryan Houlihan describes an already daily reality where “I use Google, Facebook, and then Amazon Web Services runs everything else.” They sum it up nicely when they joke about nascent Virtual Reality as “this world of infinite possibilities – but only one corporation.”

Writers – whether their focus is tech, economics, politics, or culture – are increasingly grappling with the demise of internet as free, as enabling, as an exploder of gatekeepers and monopolies. In his recent essay

Joshua Topolsky stresses how dangerous this is – alongside the simultaneous rise of trolls, and the “gamified” internet of likes, shares, achievements and rewards – because the internet “is” real life. He describes markets where Facebook “is” the internet (You’ve got Facemail!) as a warning sign. And on his podcast Tomorrow, co-host Ryan Houlihan describes an already daily reality where “I use Google, Facebook, and then Amazon Web Services runs everything else.” They sum it up nicely when they joke about nascent Virtual Reality as “this world of infinite possibilities – but only one corporation.”

Sometimes the tech giants seem so monolithic that in the imagination they all merge into one villain, despite being in fierce competition among themselves. Silicon Valley, in this sense, is an oligopoly of frenemies. And the coverage starts to resemble dystopian fiction – a weird sort of hate-reading pleasure. It’s tempting to make a New Year’s resolution to stop spending so much time online reading about spending so much time online.

The reality of the changing internet may be less dramatic for many of us, with the end of net neutrality instead turning the quotidian web into commercial aviation, with varying service levels, elusive loyalty rewards and parcelled-out pricing for whatever the online equivalent of a snack pack or two inches of legroom is.

Foer’s book is more the former, and Galloway’s more the latter. But that doesn’t make the changes described by either less insidious.

So what’s the benefit of books on a topic that already consumes every 24-hour news cycle? It’s not print romanticism. It is that they are book-length, though. In order to finish them, you need a few sittings – which means you may actually have considered them in the interim. Even if you disagree with points therein, they are more than a hot take to be instantly discarded, or worse, shared but unread. And of course, as long as you’re not on a second screen, they give you an offline break.

They sum it up nicely when they joke about nascent Virtual Reality as “this world of infinite possibilities … of a snack pack or two inches of legroom is. The year in review: The 10 most defining cultural moments The NP99: The best books of the …

Huxley believed that his version of dystopia was the more plausible one. In a 1949 letter, thanking Orwell for sending him a copy of “1984,” he wrote that he really didn’t think all that torture and jackbooting was necessary to subdue a population, and that he believed his own book offered a better solution. All you need to do, he said, is teach people to love their servitude. The totalitarian rulers in Huxley’s book do this not by oppressing their citizens but by giving them exactly what they want, or what they think they want — which is basically sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll — and lulling them into complacency. The system entails a certain Trump-like suspicion of science and dismissal of history, but that’s a price the inhabitants of Huxley’s world happily pay. They don’t mourn their lost liberty, the way Orwell’s Winston Smith does; they don’t even know it’s gone.

Siddhartha Deb There is much in Orwell’s novel that translates poorly into the contemporary moment. There exists a comfortably predictable and, to my mind, uninspired approach to the dystopic novel and its powers of prognosis, a Pavlovian response that involves reaching for a copy of George Orwell’s “1984” or Aldous Huxley’s “Brave New World” whenever extreme turbulence hits the West. Together they make up a short reading list, if a rather familiar one, redolent of high school literature classes and expanding, if forced, to Yevgeny Zamyatin’s “We” and Ray Bradbury’s “Fahrenheit 451.” That’s it, we’re done — a brief tour in four books to dystopias where the individual’s sense of freedom is always under threat from the totalitarian state.

There exists a comfortably predictable and, to my mind, uninspired approach to the dystopic novel and its powers of prognosis, a Pavlovian response that involves reaching for a copy of George Orwell’s “1984” or Aldous Huxley’s “Brave New World” whenever extreme turbulence hits the West. Together they make up a short reading list, if a rather familiar one, redolent of high school literature classes and expanding, if forced, to Yevgeny Zamyatin’s “We” and Ray Bradbury’s “Fahrenheit 451.” That’s it, we’re done — a brief tour in four books to dystopias where the individual’s sense of freedom is always under threat from the totalitarian state.

The last few months have been hard, no doubt, the news more distressing by the hour, but there is still something perversely groupthinkish in the fact that the impulse of resistance has homed in on the same book, and that a measure of opposition to the horrors of the Trump administration is the climb of “1984” to No. 1 on Amazon. There is much in Orwell’s novel, in fact, that translates poorly into the contemporary moment. From its texture of material deprivation, the loosely packed cigarettes and boiled cabbages recalling wartime rationing in Britain, to its portrayal of Ingsoc, Big Brother and various Ministries (Truth, Peace, Love, Plenty), all of which assume control by a heavily centralized State, it is a work very much of the ’40s as experienced by an English intellectual.

In “Amusing Ourselves to Death,” the American media critic Neil Postman in fact argued that Huxley’s novel was far more relevant than Orwell’s when it came to the United States, where the dominant mode of control over people was through entertainment, distraction, and superficial pleasure rather than through overt modes of policing and strict control over food supplies, at least when it came to managing the middle classes. Three decades after Postman’s account, when we can add reality television, the internet and social media to the deadly amusements available, “Brave New World” can still seem strikingly relevant in its depiction of the relentless pursuit of pleasure. From the use of soma as a kind of happiness drug to the erasure of the past not so much as a threat to government, as is the case in Orwell’s dystopia, but as simply irrelevant (“History is bunk”), Huxley marked out amusement and superficiality as the buttons that control behavior.

His relentless focus on the body, too, seems inspired, his understanding of what Michel Foucault identified as “biopolitics,” extending to the individual body as well as to entire populations and, in “Brave New World,” playing out as a eugenic system based on caste, class, race, looks and size. As for his depiction of the “savage reservation” in New Mexico, this seems to foreshadow the fetishization of the natural on the part of one of the most artifice-ridden populations in the history of the world.

A great deal funnier, subtler and darker than Orwell’s book, Huxley’s satire nevertheless has its limitations. A World State? Games of escalator squash? In any case, why stop at one of two books, as if the literary realm must mimic the denuded, lesser-of-two-evils choices of electoral politics? There are other powerful fictional dystopias that speak to the United States of today, including a significant portion of the oeuvre of Philip K. Dick and Octavia E. Butler. There is J.G. Ballard’s hallucinatory Reagan-era “Hello America,” with a future United States that has many contending presidents, including President Manson, who plays nuclear roulette in Las Vegas. Why not read Cormac McCarthy’s “The Road” and Sandra Newman’s “The Country of Ice Cream Star” and Anna North’s “America Pacifica” and Emily St. John Mandel’s “Station Eleven” and Claire Vaye Watkins’s “Gold Fame Citrus” and Vanessa Veselka’s “Zazen” and Paolo Bacigalupi’s “The Water Knife”? If the world is going dark, we may as well read as much as possible before someone turns off the light.

Charles McGrath was the editor of the Book Review from 1995 to 2004.Siddhartha Deb’s most recent book is “The Beautiful and the Damned: A Portrait of the New India.”

A version of this article appears in print on March 19, 2017, on Page BR27 of the Sunday Book Review . Order Reprints | Today’s Paper | Subscribe

One of the many stark differences between the 44th and 45th Presidents of the United States is their attitude toward literature. Barack Obama has credited books as his secret to surviving the White House ; President Trump reportedly does not read them . But for those of us still desperately trying to understand how Trump came to power, we could do worse than to follow Obama’s example.

One of the many stark differences between the 44th and 45th Presidents of the United States is their attitude toward literature. Barack Obama has credited books as

. But for those of us still desperately trying to understand how Trump came to power, we could do worse than to follow Obama’s example.

As incomprehensible as Trump’s election–and his conduct so far as POTUS–may seem, fiction and non-fiction writers alike have been predicting something like this for decades, and we’re now at the point where many books previously categorized as “speculative fiction” may need to be reassigned.

With that in mind, here is your 20 title-strong reading list for the next four years, encompassing dystopian fiction, cautionary tales from history, and non-fiction delving into the socioeconomic factors that led to Trump’s unlikely ascendency.

Generally agreed to be the granddaddy of dystopian fiction, Nineteen Eighty-Four saw a sales spike last week after Kellyanne Conway’s disastrous attempt to defend White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer by calling his lies “alternative facts.” Many related Conway’s remark to Orwell’s concept of “doublethink,” which is the act of holding two contradictory facts in your head simultaneously, and accepting them both to be true-for instance, “War is peace,” or “2 + 2 = 5,” or “The largest audience to ever witness an inauguration, period.”

last week after Kellyanne Conway’s disastrous attempt to defend White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer by calling his lies

Many related Conway’s remark to Orwell’s concept of “doublethink,” which is the act of holding two contradictory facts in your head simultaneously, and accepting them both to be true-for instance, “War is peace,” or “2 + 2 = 5,” or “The largest audience to ever witness an inauguration, period.”

In Nineteen Eighty-Four ‘s totalitarian vision of a future Britain, citizens are kept in check via mass surveillance, their every thought policed by a ruling Party which “is not interested in the good of others; it is interested solely in power.” There are no objective facts left in the world-government documents, history books, and newspaper articles are continually rewritten to support the Party’s agenda-and expressing any disagreement with the Party line is dangerous, making “doublethink” an essential skill for anyone hoping to survive. Orwell was only a few decades out.

‘s totalitarian vision of a future Britain, citizens are kept in check via mass surveillance, their every thought policed by a ruling Party which “is not interested in the good of others; it is interested solely in power.” There are no objective facts left in the world-government documents, history books, and newspaper articles are continually rewritten to support the Party’s agenda-and expressing any disagreement with the Party line is dangerous, making “doublethink” an essential skill for anyone hoping to survive. Orwell was only a few decades out.

Imagine a world in which an elite group of men had absolute power over women’s reproductive rights. Takes less mental acrobatics than it used to, doesn’t it? Though it’s long been a potent allegory for the ways in which women are forced to find agency in a male-dominated world, Margaret Atwood’s 1985 novel is now essential reading, thanks to the presence of an alleged sexual predator and a pro-life zealot in the White House.

Imagine a world in which an elite group of men had absolute power over women’s reproductive rights. Takes less mental acrobatics than it used to, doesn’t it? Though it’s long been a potent allegory for the ways in which women are forced to find agency in a male-dominated world, Margaret Atwood’s 1985 novel is now essential reading, thanks to the presence of an

Atwood envisions a future where declining birth rates and a staged attack on the U.S. government has led to the formation of The Republic of Gilead, a military dictatorship in which women’s rights are nonexistent. Most women of childbearing age are forced into reproductive slavery as “handmaids” in the households of powerful men. Once you’re done with the book, there’s a stunning 10-part adaptation coming to Hulu in April.

Atwood envisions a future where declining birth rates and a staged attack on the U.S. government has led to the formation of The Republic of Gilead, a military dictatorship in which women’s rights are nonexistent. Most women of childbearing age are forced into reproductive slavery as “handmaids” in the households of powerful men. Once you’re done with the book, there’s a

“What Will Happen When America Has a Dictator?” asked the subtitle of Lewis’s 1935 novel, published during the original rise of European fascism. In answer to that question, It Can’t Happen Here charts the rise of a charismatic Republican populist named Berzelius “Buzz” Windrip, who defeats the more experienced Democratic rival (Franklin D. Roosevelt) by running on a platform of traditionalism, anti-intellectualism, and fear, promising to revive traditional patriotism and empower working-class voters. After he takes office, Windrip overthrows the government in its existing form and replaces it with a plutocratic dictatorship in the mold of Adolf Hitler’s regime.

“What Will Happen When America Has a Dictator?” asked the subtitle of Lewis’s 1935 novel, published during the original rise of European fascism. In answer to that question,

charts the rise of a charismatic Republican populist named Berzelius “Buzz” Windrip, who defeats the more experienced Democratic rival (Franklin D. Roosevelt) by running on a platform of traditionalism, anti-intellectualism, and fear, promising to revive traditional patriotism and empower working-class voters. After he takes office, Windrip overthrows the government in its existing form and replaces it with a plutocratic dictatorship in the mold of Adolf Hitler’s regime.

In his inauguration speech , Trump positioned himself as the antidote to “American carnage,” promising to bring an end to a status quo that has left “rusted-out factories scattered like tombstones across the landscape of our nation.” In his bestselling memoir from last summer, Vance offers a more nuanced take on the disaffected blue-collar America that paved the way for Trump’s victory, a clear-eyed and poignant analysis of the white working class rooted in the author’s own upbringing in rural Ohio.

, Trump positioned himself as the antidote to “American carnage,” promising to bring an end to a status quo that has left “rusted-out factories scattered like tombstones across the landscape of our nation.” In his bestselling memoir from last summer, Vance offers a more nuanced take on the disaffected blue-collar America that paved the way for Trump’s victory, a clear-eyed and poignant analysis of the white working class rooted in the author’s own upbringing in rural Ohio.

Though you could choose to read McCarthy’s post-apocalyptic masterpiece as escapism (“Hey, things could be worse!”), there are real and present warnings in the book’s deliberately vague premise. A man and his son struggle to survive following an ambiguous environmental catastrophe which has left the landscape blighted and seemingly ended all organic life, wiping out the Earth’s food supply as “the banished sun circles the Earth like a grieving mother with a lamp.”

Trump’s administration appears to be waging a quiet war on facts, science, and empirical evidence, making its climate change denial official by scrubbing the relevant page from the White House website. The Doomsday Clock was pushed 30 seconds closer to midnight last week, with scientists and experts warning that environmental catastrophe is second only to nuclear war in the risk it poses to the future of humanity. Happy bedtime reading.

Trump’s administration appears to be waging a quiet war on facts, science, and empirical evidence, making its climate change denial official by

was pushed 30 seconds closer to midnight last week, with scientists and experts warning that environmental catastrophe is second only to nuclear war in the risk it poses to the future of humanity. Happy bedtime reading.

Another dystopian fantasy, this one depicting capitalism run rampant rather than government. In Barry’s novel, the U.S. has taken control of most of the Western Hemisphere, eliminating the need for international trade, and the world is run by for-profit corporations as the government is left with very little power. Everything is now privatized–with taxes abolished, the government has no funding with which to implement law, and crimes are only investigated if the victim or their family pays for it.

While some elements here are a little over the top-people take their surnames from the company at which they work, hence the protagonist “Jennifer Government”-the notion of constitutional rights being undermined by craven capitalist interests is pretty much dead-on.

While some elements here are a little over the top-people take their surnames from the company at which they work, hence the protagonist “Jennifer Government”-the notion of constitutional rights being undermined by

When Ulrich’s new biography of Adolf Hitler hit shelves last fall, the New York Times ran a masterfully sly review which, as the Washington Post noted , basically amounted to a 1300-word Trump subtweet. In this first of two volumes, Ulrich charts Hitler’s rise from a widely dismissed “clown” and “dunderhead” to the highest office of a previously democratic nation, campaigning on a platform of nostalgic German nationalism which prioritized domestic economic growth while demonizing “the other.”

, basically amounted to a 1300-word Trump subtweet. In this first of two volumes, Ulrich charts Hitler’s rise from a widely dismissed “clown” and “dunderhead” to the highest office of a previously democratic nation, campaigning on a platform of nostalgic German nationalism which prioritized domestic economic growth while demonizing “the other.”

The parallels between the Third Reich and Trump’s administration have been consistently drawn for months-all the more so in the wake of Trump’s refugee ban, with its horrific echoes of the U.S.’s response to those fleeing the Holocaust. For a more comprehensive analysis of Hitler’s personality–and the ways in which it might inform our current nightmare–Ulrich’s book is the place to start.

The parallels between the Third Reich and Trump’s administration have been consistently drawn for months-all the more so in the wake of Trump’s refugee ban, with its

of the U.S.’s response to those fleeing the Holocaust. For a more comprehensive analysis of Hitler’s personality–and the ways in which it might inform our current nightmare–Ulrich’s book is the place to start.

Actress Elizabeth Banks made this comparison back at the DNC in more innocent times when nobody knew exactly how accurate it would turn out to be. Collins has said that the inspiration for her blockbuster YA trilogy arose while she was channel-surfing between reality television and coverage of the Iraq war, noting the lack of distinction in the way each was presented. Now that a reality TV star is President of the United States, the boundary is blurrier still. Teenagers being forced to fight to the death in a televised arena battle is fantasy, but an obscenely wealthy one-percent turning its oppression of the masses into high-stakes entertainment is not.

back at the DNC in more innocent times when nobody knew exactly how accurate it would turn out to be. Collins has said that the inspiration for her blockbuster YA trilogy arose while she was channel-surfing between reality television and coverage of the Iraq war, noting the lack of distinction in the way each was presented. Now that a reality TV star is President of the United States, the boundary is blurrier still. Teenagers being forced to fight to the death in a televised arena battle is fantasy, but an obscenely wealthy one-percent turning its oppression of the masses into high-stakes entertainment is not.

The world of The Hunger Games is peppered with resonant details that make it impossible to dismiss as hyperbole. Every teenager’s name is entered into a lottery to be chosen to compete in the brutal Games-but they can voluntarily enter their name more times in exchange for food stamps, ensuring that the odds are overwhelmingly stacked against children from poor families. The latter books get bogged down in love triangle angst, but the first is underrated in its relevance.

is peppered with resonant details that make it impossible to dismiss as hyperbole. Every teenager’s name is entered into a lottery to be chosen to compete in the brutal Games-but they can voluntarily enter their name more times in exchange for food stamps, ensuring that the odds are overwhelmingly stacked against children from poor families. The latter books get bogged down in love triangle angst, but the first is underrated in its relevance.

At the time of writing, The Origins of Totalitarianism was sold out on Amazon.com and ranked in the top 100 chart for book sales-not too shabby for a 600-page historical tome first published in 1951. Beginning with the rise of European anti-Semitism in the 19th century, the iconic German political theorist Arendt explores the inner-workings of totalitarian movements, focusing both on Nazism and Stalinism. Already considered a seminal work of political philosophy, Origins ‘ surge in popularity in the Trump era speaks to its value as a contemporary compass, explaining both how we got here, and hopefully how we can course-correct.

was sold out on Amazon.com and ranked in the top 100 chart for book sales-not too shabby for a 600-page historical tome first published in 1951. Beginning with the rise of European anti-Semitism in the 19th century, the iconic German political theorist Arendt explores the inner-workings of totalitarian movements, focusing both on Nazism and Stalinism. Already considered a seminal work of political philosophy,

‘ surge in popularity in the Trump era speaks to its value as a contemporary compass, explaining both how we got here, and hopefully how we can course-correct.

An underrated piece of resistance literature from the Philip K. Dick canon, The Penultimate Truth explored the notion of “fake news” long before it became a political reality. The book finds the majority of the world’s population living in underground bunkers, driven into hiding by news of an imminent World War III which turns out to be entirely fake. Meanwhile, on the surface, rich white men reap the rewards of the largely abandoned world, living in luxury-until a band of rebels discovers the truth. A parable about the power of propaganda, the novel makes a strong case for the idea that fear is the only political weapon more powerful than hope.

explored the notion of “fake news” long before it became a political reality. The book finds the majority of the world’s population living in underground bunkers, driven into hiding by news of an imminent World War III which turns out to be entirely fake. Meanwhile, on the surface, rich white men reap the rewards of the largely abandoned world, living in luxury-until a band of rebels discovers the truth. A parable about the power of propaganda, the novel makes a strong case for the idea that fear is the only political weapon more powerful than hope.

“No-one can say when the unwinding began,” begins Packer’s sprawling 2013 dissection of modern America, “when the coil that held Americans together in its secure and sometimes stifling grip first gave way.” The Unwinding uses biographical snapshots of several ordinary Americans to chronicle key trends in recent history-the housing bubble, the decline in manufacture, the image of Washington as a “swamp” that requires draining-which have left vast swathes of the country feeling alienated. Though it predates Trump’s candidacy by two years, the books offers a compelling exploration of the factors that allowed Trump’s vision of “a crippled America” to resonate with so many.

“No-one can say when the unwinding began,” begins Packer’s sprawling 2013 dissection of modern America, “when the coil that held Americans together in its secure and sometimes stifling grip first gave way.”

uses biographical snapshots of several ordinary Americans to chronicle key trends in recent history-the housing bubble, the decline in manufacture, the image of Washington as a “swamp” that requires draining-which have left vast swathes of the country feeling alienated. Though it predates Trump’s candidacy by two years, the books offers a compelling exploration of the factors that allowed Trump’s vision of “a crippled America” to resonate with so many.

Originally written in response to McCarthyism, Bradbury’s vision of a book-burning dystopia works equally as a broader critique of any regime that undermines the value of facts , history and expert sources , or actively seeks to make the acquisition of knowledge more difficult. With books outlawed and exercise frowned upon, the citizens of Fahrenheit 451 ‘s future society are hooked up to “thimble radios” (basically smartphones) and spend hours of every day watching giant, wall-sized screens in their homes. Bradbury’s depictio–both here and in other stories-of the loneliness, rage, and mental instability that can result from too much screen time in lieu of books is in no way relevant to any reports that have emerged about the newly inaugurated President.

Originally written in response to McCarthyism, Bradbury’s vision of a book-burning dystopia works equally as a broader critique of any regime that undermines the value of

, or actively seeks to make the acquisition of knowledge more difficult. With books outlawed and exercise frowned upon, the citizens of

‘s future society are hooked up to “thimble radios” (basically smartphones) and spend hours of every day watching giant, wall-sized screens in their homes. Bradbury’s depictio–both here and in other stories-of the loneliness, rage, and mental instability that can result from too much screen time in lieu of books is in no way relevant to

There is so much about this Third Reich-era novel that’s fascinating, even setting aside its compelling central premise: a working-class couple in Berlin quietly start a postcard campaign that sparks a rebellion against the regime. Every Man Dies Alone was published in German in 1947, but debuted in English only eight years ago. It was written in under a month by a mentally unstable writer called Rudolf Ditzen (“Hans Fallada” is a pen name), who spent much of his life moving between psych wards, rehab, and prison. And it’s a detailed, devastating look at everyday acts of courage in the face of fascism. Take notes.

There is so much about this Third Reich-era novel that’s fascinating, even setting aside its compelling central premise: a working-class couple in Berlin quietly start a postcard campaign that sparks a rebellion against the regime.

was published in German in 1947, but debuted in English only eight years ago. It was written in under a month by a mentally unstable writer called Rudolf Ditzen (“Hans Fallada” is a pen name), who spent much of his life moving between psych wards, rehab, and prison. And it’s a detailed, devastating look at everyday acts of courage in the face of fascism. Take notes.

Raised in rural parishes by his Presbyterian pastor father, liberal activist and journalist Hedges has a very specific perspective from which to criticize the Christian Right, which he argues is not a legitimate religion but a political movement that ultimately seeks to undermine government. The Christian Right, Hedges warns, echoes young Italian and German fascist movements in the 1920s and ’30s, its “yearning for apocalyptic violence and its assault on intellectual inquiry laying the foundation for a new, frightening America.”Though American Fascists was published a decade ago, it’s essential reading for anyone hoping to understand the Mike Pence sector of the current administration, encompassing coverage of events from pro-life rallies to workshops on gay conversion therapy.

Raised in rural parishes by his Presbyterian pastor father, liberal activist and journalist Hedges has a very specific perspective from which to criticize the Christian Right, which he argues is not a legitimate religion but a political movement that ultimately seeks to undermine government. The Christian Right, Hedges warns, echoes young Italian and German fascist movements in the 1920s and ’30s, its “yearning for apocalyptic violence and its assault on intellectual inquiry laying the foundation for a new, frightening America.”Though

was published a decade ago, it’s essential reading for anyone hoping to understand the Mike Pence sector of the current administration, encompassing coverage of events from pro-life rallies to workshops on gay conversion therapy.

One of the most sobering realities to emerge from the refugee ban last weekend was that the United States could have saved Anne Frank’s life , but failed to do so when she and her family were denied entry to the United States as refugees. Knowing that, revisiting the diary entries a 13-year-old Frank wrote while in hiding from the Nazis might sound like a brutal exercise in masochism. But there’s never been a more important time to be viscerally reminded that refugees are human beings with inner lives, mundane thoughts, and teenage diaries.

One of the most sobering realities to emerge from the refugee ban last weekend was that the United States

, but failed to do so when she and her family were denied entry to the United States as refugees. Knowing that, revisiting the diary entries a 13-year-old Frank wrote while in hiding from the Nazis might sound like a brutal exercise in masochism. But there’s never been a more important time to be viscerally reminded that refugees are human beings with inner lives, mundane thoughts, and teenage diaries.

Moore and Lloyd’s graphic novel depicts a Britain that has been transformed into a fascist police state following a near-miss nuclear conflict in the 1980s. The impact of full-scale nuclear war in other countries has made for a fearful domestic climate, from which arose the far-right wing Norsefire regime, which restored order to Britain at a high cost: All those who were not white, Christian and heterosexual were rounded up and taken to concentration camps.

Norsefire has also taken full control of the nation’s media, using formerly independent television channels to air propaganda messages and giving the Church of England more far-reaching power and influence. The party’s leader gained power through a democratic election, but once in office rapidly transformed himself into a dictator by outlawing political dissent and overhauling the intelligence agencies to be staffed solely by his supporters. Any of this sound familiar?

One of the great mysteries of this election for liberals has been the fact that many of Trump’s voters appear to be voting against their own economic interests-particularly where healthcare is concerned. Hochschild takes this apparent paradox as her starting point, arguing that when someone votes against their rational needs, it’s usually to serve an emotional need. It might not be the best choice, but it feels like the right choice, and tapping into the feeling is what allowed Trump to succeed.

One of the great mysteries of this election for liberals has been the fact that many of Trump’s voters appear to be voting against their own economic interests-particularly where

is concerned. Hochschild takes this apparent paradox as her starting point, arguing that when someone votes against their rational needs, it’s usually to serve an emotional need. It might not be the best choice, but it

Though now largely forgotten, London’s 1908 novel was ahead of its time in a lot of ways-not least for casting an educated woman as its protagonist-and seems especially so now in its prediction of the rise of an oligarchic tyrant in the US.

Often considered the first modern dystopia, The Iron Heel deftly lays out the makings of a fascist state before fascism itself had ever come to prominence in the real world, depicting a 20th century America in which class divisions and brutal inequality have set the stage for a Socialist revolution… until a staged terrorist attack allows the fascist party to take hold instead.

deftly lays out the makings of a fascist state before fascism itself had ever come to prominence in the real world, depicting a 20th century America in which class divisions and brutal inequality have set the stage for a Socialist revolution… until a staged terrorist attack allows the fascist party to take hold instead.

It’s a familiar refrain by now: liberal progressives’ underestimation of, and contempt for, the white working class was critical to Trump’s victory. Isenberg’s exhaustive book sets out to retell the United States’ history with this poor white underclass front and center, and in doing so, as Slate declared upon its release, “makes Donald Trump seem far less unprecedented than today’s pundits proclaim.”

It’s a familiar refrain by now: liberal progressives’ underestimation of, and contempt for, the white working class was critical to Trump’s victory. Isenberg’s exhaustive book sets out to retell the United States’ history with this poor white underclass front and center, and in doing so, as

declared upon its release, “makes Donald Trump seem far less unprecedented than today’s pundits proclaim.”

The human race is on its last legs, pushed to the brink of destruction by a mysterious and absolute loss of fertility in women across the planet. The resulting climate of fear has propelled nations to turn inward, and the novel takes place in a Britain that has closed its borders, its citizens consumed by bigoted isolationism, and immigrants rounded up and detained in brutal conditions. As it turns out, James was being optimistic to assume it would take an apocalypse to get us there.

While the 2006 movie is arguably more incisive-notably because it recasts humanity’s final pregnant hope as a black teenage refugee, rather than a white British woman as in James’s book-the novel still packs a profoundly relevant punch.

Here are the plots of some new dystopian novels, set in the near future. The world got too hot, so a wealthy celebrity persuaded a small number of very rich people to move to a makeshift satellite that, from orbit, leaches the last nourishment the earth has to give, leaving everyone else to starve. The people on the satellite have lost their genitals, through some kind of instant mutation or super-quick evolution, but there is a lot of sex anyway, since it’s become fashionable to have surgical procedures to give yourself a variety of appendages and openings, along with decorative skin grafts and tattoos, there being so little else to do. There are no children, but the celebrity who rules the satellite has been trying to create them by torturing women from the earth’s surface. (“We are what happens when the seemingly unthinkable celebrity rises to power,” the novel’s narrator says.) Or: North Korea deployed a brain-damaging chemical weapon that made everyone in the United States, or at least everyone in L.A., an idiot, except for a few people who were on a boat the day the scourge came, but the idiots, who are otherwise remarkably sweet, round up and kill those people, out of fear. Led by a man known only as the Chief, the idiots build a wall around downtown to keep out the Drifters and the stupidest people, the Shamblers, who don’t know how to tie shoes or button buttons; they wander around, naked and barefoot. Thanks, in part, to the difficulty of clothing, there is a lot of sex, random and unsatisfying, but there are very few children, because no one knows how to take care of them. (The jacket copy bills this novel as “the first book of the Trump era.”)

are the plots of some new dystopian novels, set in the near future. The world got too hot, so a wealthy celebrity persuaded a small number of very rich people to move to a makeshift satellite that, from orbit, leaches the last nourishment the earth has to give, leaving everyone else to starve. The people on the satellite have lost their genitals, through some kind of instant mutation or super-quick evolution, but there is a lot of sex anyway, since it’s become fashionable to have surgical procedures to give yourself a variety of appendages and openings, along with decorative skin grafts and tattoos, there being so little else to do. There are no children, but the celebrity who rules the satellite has been trying to create them by torturing women from the earth’s surface. (“We are what happens when the seemingly unthinkable celebrity rises to power,” the novel’s narrator says.) Or: North Korea deployed a brain-damaging chemical weapon that made everyone in the United States, or at least everyone in L.A., an idiot, except for a few people who were on a boat the day the scourge came, but the idiots, who are otherwise remarkably sweet, round up and kill those people, out of fear. Led by a man known only as the Chief, the idiots build a wall around downtown to keep out the Drifters and the stupidest people, the Shamblers, who don’t know how to tie shoes or button buttons; they wander around, naked and barefoot. Thanks, in part, to the difficulty of clothing, there is a lot of sex, random and unsatisfying, but there are very few children, because no one knows how to take care of them. (The jacket copy bills this novel as “the first book of the Trump era.”)

Or: Machines replaced humans, doing all the work and providing all the food, and, even though if you leave the city it is hotter everywhere else, some huffy young people do, because they are so bored, not to mention that they are mad at their parents, who do annoying things like run giant corporations. The runaways are called walkaways. (I gather they’re not in a terribly big hurry.) They talk about revolution, take a lot of baths, upload their brains onto computers, and have a lot of sex, but, to be honest, they are very boring. Or: Even after the coasts were lost to the floods when the ice caps melted, the American South, defying a new federal law, refused to give up fossil fuels, and seceded, which led to a civil war, which had been going on for decades, and was about to be over, on Reunification Day, except that a woman from Louisiana who lost her whole family in the war went to the celebration and released a poison that killed a hundred million people, which doesn’t seem like the tragedy it might have been, because in this future world, as in all the others, there’s not much to live for, what with the petty tyrants, the rotten weather, and the crappy sex. It will not give too much away if I say that none of these novels have a happy ending (though one has a twist). Then again, none of them have a happy beginning, either.

Dystopias follow utopias the way thunder follows lightning. This year, the thunder is roaring. But people are so grumpy, what with the petty tyrants and such, that it’s easy to forget how recently lightning struck. “Whether we measure our progress in terms of wiredness, open-mindedness, or optimism, the country is moving in the right direction, and faster, perhaps, than even we would have believed,” a reporter for Wired wrote in May, 2000. “We are, as a nation, better educated, more tolerant, and more connected because of–not in spite of–the convergence of the internet and public life. Partisanship, religion, geography, race, gender, and other traditional political divisions are giving way to a new standard–wiredness–as an organizing principle.” Nor was the utopianism merely technological, or callow. In January, 2008, Barack Obama gave a speech in New Hampshire, about the American creed:

Dystopias follow utopias the way thunder follows lightning. This year, the thunder is roaring. But people are so grumpy, what with the petty tyrants and such, that it’s easy to forget how recently lightning struck. “Whether we measure our progress in terms of wiredness, open-mindedness, or optimism, the country is moving in the right direction, and faster, perhaps, than even we would have believed,” a reporter for

wrote in May, 2000. “We are, as a nation, better educated, more tolerant, and more connected because of–not in spite of–the convergence of the internet and public life. Partisanship, religion, geography, race, gender, and other traditional political divisions are giving way to a new standard–wiredness–as an organizing principle.” Nor was the utopianism merely technological, or callow. In January, 2008, Barack Obama gave a speech in New Hampshire, about the American creed:

It was a creed written into the founding documents that declared the destiny of a nation: Yes, we can. It was whispered by slaves and abolitionists as they blazed a trail towards freedom through the darkest of nights: Yes, we can. It was sung by immigrants as they struck out from distant shores and pioneers who pushed westward against an unforgiving wilderness: Yes, we can. . . . Yes, we can heal this nation. Yes, we can repair this world. Yes, we can.

That was the lightning, the flash of hope, the promise of perfectibility. The argument of dystopianism is that perfection comes at the cost of freedom. Every new lament about the end of the republic, every column about the collapse of civilization, every new novel of doom: these are its answering thunder. Rumble, thud, rumble, ka-boom, KA-BOOM !

That was the lightning, the flash of hope, the promise of perfectibility. The argument of dystopianism is that perfection comes at the cost of freedom. Every new lament about the end of the republic, every column about the collapse of civilization, every new novel of doom: these are its answering thunder. Rumble, thud, rumble, ka-boom,

A utopia is a paradise, a dystopia a paradise lost. Before utopias and dystopias became imagined futures, they were imagined pasts, or imagined places, like the Garden of Eden. “I have found a continent more densely peopled and abounding in animals than our Europe or Asia or Africa, and, in addition, a climate milder and more delightful than in any other region known to us,” Amerigo Vespucci wrote, in extravagant letters describing his voyages across the Atlantic, published in 1503 as “Mundus Novus_,”_ a new world. In 1516, Thomas More published a fictional account of a sailor on one of Vespucci’s ships who had travelled just a bit farther, to the island of Utopia, where he found a perfect republic. (More coined the term: “utopia” means “nowhere.”) “Gulliver’s Travels” (1726) is a satire of the utopianism of the Enlightenment. On the island of Laputa, Gulliver visits the Academy of Lagado, where the sages, the first progressives, are busy trying to make pincushions out of marble, breeding naked sheep, and improving the language by getting rid of all the words. The word “dystopia,” meaning “an unhappy country,” was coined in the seventeen-forties, as the historian Gregory Claeys points out in a shrewd new study, “Dystopia: A Natural History” (Oxford). In its modern definition, a dystopia can be apocalyptic, or post-apocalyptic, or neither, but it has to be anti-utopian, a utopia turned upside down, a world in which people tried to build a republic of perfection only to find that they had created a republic of misery. “A Trip to the Island of Equality,” a 1792 reply to Thomas Paine’s “Rights of Man,” is a dystopia (on the island, the pursuit of equality has reduced everyone to living in caves), but Mary Shelley’s 1826 novel, “The Last Man,” in which the last human being dies in the year 2100 of a dreadful plague, is not dystopian; it’s merely apocalyptic.

A utopia is a paradise, a dystopia a paradise lost. Before utopias and dystopias became imagined futures, they were imagined pasts, or imagined places, like the Garden of Eden. “I have found a continent more densely peopled and abounding in animals than our Europe or Asia or Africa, and, in addition, a climate milder and more delightful than in any other region known to us,” Amerigo Vespucci wrote, in extravagant letters describing his

voyages across the Atlantic, published in 1503 as “Mundus Novus_,”_ a new world. In 1516, Thomas More published a fictional account of a sailor on one of Vespucci’s ships who had travelled just a bit farther, to the island of Utopia, where he found a perfect republic. (More coined the term: “utopia” means “nowhere.”) “Gulliver’s Travels” (1726) is a satire of the utopianism of the Enlightenment. On the island of Laputa, Gulliver visits the Academy of Lagado, where the sages, the first progressives, are busy trying to make pincushions out of marble, breeding naked sheep, and improving the language by getting rid of all the words. The word “dystopia,” meaning “an unhappy country,” was coined in the seventeen-forties, as the historian Gregory Claeys points out in a shrewd new study, “Dystopia: A Natural History” (Oxford). In its modern definition, a dystopia can be apocalyptic, or post-apocalyptic, or neither, but it has to be anti-utopian, a utopia turned upside down, a world in which people tried to build a republic of perfection only to find that they had created a republic of misery. “A Trip to the Island of Equality,” a 1792 reply to Thomas Paine’s “Rights of Man,” is a dystopia (on the island, the pursuit of equality has reduced everyone to living in caves), but Mary Shelley’s 1826 novel, “The Last Man,” in which the last human being dies in the year 2100 of a dreadful plague, is not dystopian; it’s merely apocalyptic.

The dystopian novel emerged in response to the first utopian novels, like Edward Bellamy’s best-selling 1888 fantasy, “Looking Backward,” about a socialist utopia in the year 2000. “Looking Backward” was so successful that it produced a dozen anti-socialist, anti-utopian replies, including “Looking Further Backward” (in which China invades the United States, which has been weakened by its embrace of socialism) and “Looking Further Forward” (in which socialism is so unquestionable that a history professor who refutes it is demoted to the rank of janitor). In 1887, a year before Bellamy, the American writer Anna Bowman Dodd published “The Republic of the Future,” a socialist dystopia set in New York in 2050, in which women and men are equal, children are reared by the state, machines handle all the work, and most people, having nothing else to do, spend much of their time at the gym, obsessed with fitness. Dodd describes this world as “the very acme of dreariness.” What is a dystopia? The gym. (That’s still true. In a 2011 episode of “Black Mirror,” life on earth in an energy-scarce future has been reduced to an interminable spin class.)

Utopians believe in progress; dystopians don’t. They fight this argument out in competing visions of the future, utopians offering promises, dystopians issuing warnings. In 1895, in “The Time Machine,” H. G. Wells introduced the remarkably handy device of travelling through time by way of a clock. After that, time travel proved convenient, but even Wells didn’t always use a machine. In his 1899 novel, “When the Sleeper Awakes,” his hero simply oversleeps his way to the twenty-first century, where he finds a world in which people are enslaved by propaganda, and “helpless in the hands of the demagogue.” That’s one problem with dystopian fiction: forewarned is not always forearmed.

Sleeping through the warning signs is another problem. “I was asleep before,” the heroine of “The Handmaid’s Tale” says in the new Hulu production of Margaret Atwood’s 1986 novel. “That’s how we let it happen.” But what about when everyone’s awake, and there are plenty of warnings, but no one does anything about them? “NK3,” by Michael Tolkin (Atlantic), is an intricate and cleverly constructed account of the aftermath of a North Korean chemical attack; the NK3 of the title has entirely destroyed its victims’ memories and has vastly diminished their capacity to reason. This puts the novel’s characters in the same position as the readers of all dystopian fiction: they’re left to try to piece together not a whodunnit but a howdidithappen. Seth Kaplan, who’d been a pediatric oncologist, pages through periodicals left in a seat back on a Singapore Airlines jet, on the ground at LAX. The periodicals, like the plane, hadn’t moved since the plague arrived. “It confused Seth that the plague was front-page news in some but not all of the papers,” Tolkin writes. “They still printed reviews of movies and books, articles about new cars, ways to make inexpensive costumes for Halloween.” Everyone had been awake, but they’d been busy shopping for cars and picking out movies and cutting eyeholes in paper bags.

This spring’s blighted crop of dystopian novels is pessimistic about technology, about the economy, about politics, and about the planet, making it a more abundant harvest of unhappiness than most other heydays of downheartedness. The Internet did not stitch us all together. Economic growth has led to widening economic inequality and a looming environmental crisis. Democracy appears to be yielding to authoritarianism. “Hopes, dashed” is, lately, a long list, and getting longer. The plane is grounded, seat backs in the upright position, and we are dying, slowly, of stupidity.

Pick your present-day dilemma; there’s a new dystopian novel to match it. Worried about political polarization? In “American War” (Knopf), Omar El Akkad traces the United States’ descent from gridlock to barbarism as the states of the former Confederacy (or, at least, the parts that aren’t underwater) refuse to abide by the Sustainable Future Act, and secede in 2074. Troubled by the new Jim Crow? Ben H. Winters’s “Underground Airlines” (Little, Brown) is set in an early-twenty-first-century United States in which slavery abides, made crueller, and more inescapable, by the giant, unregulated slave-owning corporations that deploy the surveillance powers of modern technology, so that even escaping to the North (on underground airlines) hardly offers much hope, since free blacks in cities like Chicago live in segregated neighborhoods with no decent housing or schooling or work and it’s the very poverty in which they live that defeats arguments for abolition by hardening ideas about race. As the book’s narrator, a fugitive slave, explains, “Black gets to mean poor and poor to mean dangerous and all the words get murked together and become one dark idea, a cloud of smoke, the smokestack fumes drifting like filthy air across the rest of the nation.”

Pick your present-day dilemma; there’s a new dystopian novel to match it. Worried about political polarization? In “American War” (Knopf), Omar El Akkad traces the United States’ descent from gridlock to barbarism as the states of the former Confederacy (or, at least, the parts that aren’t

underwater) refuse to abide by the Sustainable Future Act, and secede in 2074. Troubled by the new Jim Crow? Ben H. Winters’s “Underground Airlines” (Little, Brown) is set in an early-twenty-first-century United States in which slavery abides, made crueller, and more inescapable, by the giant, unregulated slave-owning corporations that deploy the surveillance powers of modern technology, so that even escaping to the North (on underground airlines) hardly offers much hope, since free blacks in cities like Chicago live in segregated neighborhoods with no decent housing or schooling or work and it’s the very poverty in which they live that defeats arguments for abolition by hardening ideas about race. As the book’s narrator, a fugitive slave, explains, “Black gets to mean poor and poor to mean dangerous and all the words get murked together and become one dark idea, a cloud of smoke, the smokestack fumes drifting like filthy air across the rest of the nation.”

Radical pessimism is a dismal trend. The despair, this particular publishing season, comes in many forms, including the grotesque. In “The Book of Joan” (Harper), Lidia Yuknavitch’s narrator, Christine Pizan, is forty-nine, and about to die, because she’s living on a satellite orbiting the earth, where everyone is executed at the age of fifty; the wet in their bodies constitutes the colony’s water supply. (Dystopia, here, is menopause.) Her body has aged: “If hormones have any meaning left for any of us, it is latent at best.” She examines herself in the mirror: “I have a slight rise where each breast began, and a kind of mound where my pubic bone should be, but that’s it. Nothing else of woman is left.” Yuknavitch’s Pizan is a resurrection of the medieval French scholar and historian Christine de Pisan, who in 1405 wrote the allegorical “Book of the City of Ladies,” and, in 1429, “The Song of Joan of Arc,” an account of the life of the martyr. In the year 2049, Yuknavitch’s Pizan writes on her body, by a torturous process of self-mutilation, the story of a twenty-first-century Joan, who is trying to save the planet from Jean de Men (another historical allusion), the insane celebrity who has become its ruler. In the end, de Men himself is revealed to be “not a man but what is left of a woman,” with “all the traces: sad, stitched-up sacks of flesh where breasts had once been, as if someone tried too hard to erase their existence. And a bulbous sagging gash sutured over and over where . . . life had perhaps happened in the past, or not, and worse, several dangling attempts at half-formed penises, sewn and abandoned, distended and limp.”

Equal rights for women, emancipation, Reconstruction, civil rights: so many hopes, dashed; so many causes, lost. Pisan pictured a city of women; Lincoln believed in union; King had a dream. Yuknavitch and El Akkad and Winters unspool the reels of those dreams, and recut them as nightmares. This move isn’t new, or daring; it is, instead, very old. The question is whether it’s all used up, as parched as a post-apocalyptic desert, as barren as an old woman, as addled as an old man.

A utopia is a planned society; planned societies are often disastrous; that’s why utopias contain their own dystopias. Most early-twentieth-century dystopian novels took the form of political parables, critiques of planned societies, from both the left and the right. The utopianism of Communists, eugenicists, New Dealers, and Fascists produced the Russian novelist Yevgeny Zamyatin’s “We” in 1924, Aldous Huxley’s “Brave New World” in 1935, Ayn Rand’s “Anthem” in 1937, and George Orwell’s “1984” in 1949. After the war, after the death camps, after the bomb, dystopian fiction thrived, like a weed that favors shade. “A decreasing percentage of the imaginary worlds are utopias,” the literary scholar Chad Walsh observed in 1962. “An increasing percentage are nightmares.”

Much postwar pessimism had to do with the superficiality of mass culture in an age of affluence, and with the fear that the banality and conformity of consumer society had reduced people to robots. “I drive my car to supermarket,” John Updike wrote in 1954. “The way I take is superhigh, / A superlot is where I park it, / And Super Suds are what I buy.” Supersudsy television boosterism is the utopianism attacked by Kurt Vonnegut in “Player Piano” (1952) and by Ray Bradbury in “Fahrenheit 451” (1953). Cold War dystopianism came in as many flavors as soda pop or superheroes and in as many sizes as nuclear warheads. But, in a deeper sense, the mid-century overtaking of utopianism by dystopianism marked the rise of modern conservatism: a rejection of the idea of the liberal state. Rand’s “Atlas Shrugged” appeared in 1957, and climbed up the Times best-seller list. It has sold more than eight million copies.

Much postwar pessimism had to do with the superficiality of mass culture in an age of affluence, and with the fear that the banality and conformity of consumer society had reduced people to robots. “I drive my car to supermarket,” John Updike wrote in 1954. “The way I take is superhigh, / A superlot is where I park it, / And Super Suds are what I buy.” Supersudsy television boosterism is the utopianism attacked by Kurt Vonnegut in “Player Piano” (1952) and by Ray Bradbury in “Fahrenheit 451” (1953). Cold War dystopianism came in as many flavors as soda pop or superheroes and in as many sizes as nuclear warheads. But, in a deeper sense, the mid-century overtaking of utopianism by dystopianism marked the rise of modern conservatism: a rejection of the idea of the liberal state. Rand’s “Atlas Shrugged” appeared in 1957, and climbed up the

The second half of the twentieth century, of course, also produced liberal-minded dystopias, chiefly concerned with issuing warnings about pollution and climate change, nuclear weapons and corporate monopolies, technological totalitarianism and the fragility of rights secured from the state. There were, for instance, feminist dystopias. The utopianism of the Moral Majority, founded in 1979, lies behind “The Handmaid’s Tale” (a book that is, among other things, an updating of Harriet Jacobs’s 1861 “Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl”). But rights-based dystopianism also led to the creation of a subgenre of dystopian fiction: bleak futures for bobby-soxers. Dystopianism turns out to have a natural affinity with American adolescence. And this, I think, is where the life of the genre got squeezed out, like a beetle burned up on an asphalt driveway by a boy wielding a magnifying glass on a sunny day. It sizzles, and then it smokes, and then it just lies there, dead as a bug.

The second half of the twentieth century, of course, also produced liberal-minded dystopias, chiefly concerned with issuing warnings about pollution and climate change, nuclear weapons and corporate monopolies, technological totalitarianism and the fragility of rights secured from the state. There were, for instance, feminist dystopias. The utopianism of the Moral Majority, founded in 1979, lies behind “The Handmaid’s Tale” (a book that is, among other things, an updating of Harriet Jacobs’s 1861 “Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl”). But rights-based dystopianism also led to the creation of a subgenre of dystopian fiction: bleak futures

for bobby-soxers. Dystopianism turns out to have a natural affinity with American adolescence. And this, I think, is where the life of the genre got squeezed out, like a beetle burned up on an asphalt driveway by a boy wielding a magnifying glass on a sunny day. It sizzles, and then it smokes, and then it just lies there, dead as a bug.

Dystopias featuring teen-age characters have been a staple of high-school life since “The Lord of the Flies” came out, in 1954. But the genre only really took off in the aftermath of Vietnam and Watergate, when distrust of adult institutions and adult authority flourished, and the publishing industry began producing fiction packaged for “young adults,” ages twelve to eighteen. Some of these books are pretty good. M. T. Anderson’s 2002 Y.A. novel, “Feed,” is a smart and fierce answer to the “Don’t Be Evil” utopianism of Google, founded in 1996. All of them are characterized by a withering contempt for adults and by an unshakable suspicion of authority. “The Hunger Games” trilogy, whose first installment appeared in 2008, has to do with economic inequality, but, like all Y.A. dystopian fiction, it’s also addressed to readers who feel betrayed by a world that looked so much better to them when they were just a bit younger. “I grew up a little, and I gradually began to figure out that pretty much everyone had been lying to me about pretty much everything ,” the high-school-age narrator writes at the beginning of Ernest Cline’s best-selling 2011 Y.A. novel, “Ready Player One.”

Dystopias featuring teen-age characters have been a staple of high-school life since “The Lord of the Flies” came out, in 1954. But the genre only really took off in the aftermath of Vietnam and Watergate, when distrust of adult institutions and adult authority flourished, and the publishing industry began producing fiction packaged for “young adults,” ages twelve to eighteen. Some of these books are pretty good. M. T. Anderson’s 2002 Y.A. novel, “Feed,” is a smart and fierce answer to the “Don’t Be Evil” utopianism of Google, founded in 1996. All of them are characterized by a withering contempt for adults and by an unshakable suspicion of authority. “The Hunger Games” trilogy, whose first installment appeared in 2008, has to do with economic inequality, but, like all Y.A. dystopian fiction, it’s also addressed to readers who feel betrayed by a world that looked so much better to them when they were just a bit younger. “I grew up a little, and I gradually began to figure out that pretty much

,” the high-school-age narrator writes at the beginning of Ernest Cline’s best-selling 2011 Y.A. novel, “Ready Player One.”

Lately, even dystopian fiction marketed to adults has an adolescent sensibility, pouty and hostile. Cory Doctorow’s new novel, “Walkaway” (Tor), begins late at night at a party in a derelict factory with a main character named Hubert: “At twenty-seven, he had seven years on the next oldest partier.” The story goes on in this way, with Doctorow inviting grownup readers to hang out with adolescents, looking for immortality, while supplying neologisms like “spum” instead of “spam” to remind us that we’re in a world that’s close to our own, but weird. “My father spies on me,” the novel’s young heroine complains. “Walkaway” comes with an endorsement from Edward Snowden. Doctorow’s earlier novel, a Y.A. book called “Little Brother,” told the story of four teen-agers and their fight for Internet privacy rights. With “Walkaway,” Doctorow pounds the same nails with the same bludgeon. His walkaways are trying to turn a dystopia into a utopia by writing better computer code than their enemies. “A pod of mercs and an infotech goon pwnd everything using some zeroday they’d bought from scumbag default infowar researchers” is the sort of thing they say. “They took over the drone fleet, and while we dewormed it, seized the mechas.”

Every dystopia is a history of the future. What are the consequences of a literature, even a pulp literature, of political desperation? “It’s a sad commentary on our age that we find dystopias a lot easier to believe in than utopias,” Atwood wrote in the nineteen-eighties. “Utopias we can only imagine; dystopias we’ve already had.” But what was really happening then was that the genre and its readers were sorting themselves out by political preference, following the same path–to the same ideological bunkers–as families, friends, neighborhoods, and the news. In the first year of Obama’s Presidency, Americans bought half a million copies of “Atlas Shrugged.” In the first month of the Administration of Donald (“American carnage”) Trump, during which Kellyanne Conway talked about alternative facts, “1984” jumped to the top of the Amazon best-seller list. (Steve Bannon is a particular fan of a 1973 French novel called “The Camp of the Saints,” in which Europe is overrun by dark-skinned immigrants.) The duel of dystopias is nothing so much as yet another place poisoned by polarized politics, a proxy war of imaginary worlds.

Dystopia used to be a fiction of resistance; it’s become a fiction of submission, the fiction of an untrusting, lonely, and sullen twenty-first century, the fiction of fake news and infowars, the fiction of helplessness and hopelessness. It cannot imagine a better future, and it doesn’t ask anyone to bother to make one. It nurses grievances and indulges resentments; it doesn’t call for courage; it finds that cowardice suffices. Its only admonition is: Despair more. It appeals to both the left and the right, because, in the end, it requires so little by way of literary, political, or moral imagination, asking only that you enjoy the company of people whose fear of the future aligns comfortably with your own. Left or right, the radical pessimism of an unremitting dystopianism has itself contributed to the unravelling of the liberal state and the weakening of a commitment to political pluralism. “This isn’t a story about war,” El Akkad writes in “American War.” “It’s about ruin.” A story about ruin can be beautiful. Wreckage is romantic. But a politics of ruin is doomed.

LONDON — Harry Potter creator J.K. Rowling can add another magic moment to her list of achievements — she has been made a royal Companion of Honor.

From the “everything old is new again” files: Bygone dystopian fiction is officially back in vogue. As reported last month , Penguin Random House has seen a 9,500 percent sales increase for George Orwell’s 1984 since Trump’s inauguration; that was enough to propel the book to the top spot on Amazon’s bestseller list. The publisher also saw enough demand for It Can’t Happen Here , Sinclair Lewis’ 1935 satirical novel about an authoritarian president, to reissue a paperback edition in December–and then double down with a robust second print run in January.

since Trump’s inauguration; that was enough to propel the book to the top spot on Amazon’s bestseller list. The publisher also saw enough demand for

, Sinclair Lewis’ 1935 satirical novel about an authoritarian president, to reissue a paperback edition in December–and then double down with a robust second print run in January.

Nor is this newfound popularity a reflection of blue-state tastes. At Brazos Bookstore in Houston, Texas, general manager Ben Rybeck says copies of 1984 and other titles are “flying” off the shelves. Iconoclast Books in Ketchum, Idaho sold eight copies of 1984 in January–compared to one in January 2016. And at Book Loft in Columbus, Ohio, sales manager Glen Welch has seen unprecedented demand. “All of a sudden, these books started taking off,” says Welch, who describes the store’s customers as an even split between liberal and conservative. “I haven’t seen this before, in my 10 years here.”

Nor is this newfound popularity a reflection of blue-state tastes. At Brazos Bookstore in Houston, Texas, general manager Ben Rybeck says copies of

and other titles are “flying” off the shelves. Iconoclast Books in Ketchum, Idaho sold eight copies of

in January–compared to one in January 2016. And at Book Loft in Columbus, Ohio, sales manager Glen Welch has seen unprecedented demand. “All of a sudden, these books started taking off,” says Welch, who describes the store’s customers as an even split between liberal and conservative. “I haven’t seen this before, in my 10 years here.”

Part of the appeal of these classics, of course, is a morbid strain of escapism: Dystopian fiction enables readers to taste a darker timeline, albeit one that a protagonist invariably triumphs over. The world could be a lot worse , you think while reading. But the thrill goes beyond the vicarious. A dystopian worldview, whether derived from fiction or real-world events, can have therapeutic value–no matter which side of the aisle your politics belong on.

Part of the appeal of these classics, of course, is a morbid strain of escapism: Dystopian fiction enables readers to taste a darker timeline, albeit one that a protagonist invariably triumphs over.

, you think while reading. But the thrill goes beyond the vicarious. A dystopian worldview, whether derived from fiction or real-world events, can have therapeutic value–no matter which side of the aisle your politics belong on.

Dystopian literature has long given writers a means of interrogating the world around them. Orwell conceived of 1984 under the looming threat of the Soviet Union, and Margaret Atwood wrote The Handmaid’s Tale after the elections of Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher. “We can work our way through problems by telling stories better, at times, than by writing philosophical treatises,” says Chris Robichaud, an ethicist at Harvard who teaches a course on utopia and dystopia in fiction and philosophy. “You look to fiction to see how people are wrestling with serious problems.” That’s valuable for readers as well, especially in a politically divided climate like today’s. “We can’t look at dystopias as merely some bad slippery slope argument,” says Robichaud. “Rather, they challenge us: What are the values in this dystopia, and what do they say about our values right now?”

Dystopian literature has long given writers a means of interrogating the world around them. Orwell conceived of

after the elections of Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher. “We can work our way through problems by telling stories better, at times, than by writing philosophical treatises,” says Chris Robichaud, an ethicist at Harvard who teaches a course on utopia and dystopia in fiction and philosophy. “You look to fiction to see how people are wrestling with serious problems.” That’s valuable for readers as well, especially in a politically divided climate like today’s. “We can’t look at dystopias as merely some bad slippery slope argument,” says Robichaud. “Rather, they challenge us: What are the values in this dystopia, and what do they say about our values right now?”

In fall 2016, Skidmore College professor Nicholas Junkerman taught a course on utopia and dystopia, with a reading list that included Octavia Butler’s Parable of the Sower and Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go –as well as Trump’s acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention. The English professor planned to include modern utopian narratives as well, but found that 20th-century texts–and preoccupations–skewed pronouncedly pessimistic. “We’re saturated with dystopia,” Junkerman says. That outlook suffuses not just Donald Trump’s rhetoric (“American carnage,” anyone?), but his supporters’ as well: “‘Make America Great Again’ is about finding our way back to utopia.”

In fall 2016, Skidmore College professor Nicholas Junkerman taught a course on utopia and dystopia, with a reading list that included Octavia Butler’s

–as well as Trump’s acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention. The English professor planned to include modern utopian narratives as well, but found that 20th-century texts–and preoccupations–skewed pronouncedly pessimistic. “We’re saturated with dystopia,” Junkerman says. That outlook suffuses not just Donald Trump’s rhetoric (“American carnage,” anyone?), but his supporters’ as well: “‘Make America Great Again’ is about finding our way back to utopia.”

Some writers feel the same way. Last year, Alexander Weinstein published Children of the New World , a dystopian short-story collection about our reliance on technology, as a way to warn readers about a possible future. Now, Weinstein is working on his next book, but its scope–it’s a fictional field guide to a lost continent–gives him some agita. “Look at this society,” he says. “What am I doing writing about fantastical locations, when the world is going down in flames?” Weinstein has no plans to change his current project, although even if he did, the results might not be what one would expect: “It’s hard to write dark speculative fiction presently, because it all seems quaint in comparison” to what’s happening now, Weinstein says.

, a dystopian short-story collection about our reliance on technology, as a way to warn readers about a possible future. Now, Weinstein is working on his next book, but its scope–it’s a fictional field guide to a lost continent–gives him some agita. “Look at this society,” he says. “What am I doing writing about fantastical locations, when the world is going down in flames?” Weinstein has no plans to change his current project, although even if he did, the results might not be what one would expect: “It’s hard to write dark speculative fiction presently, because it all seems quaint in comparison” to what’s happening now, Weinstein says.

People naturally gravitate toward a narrative that validates their own worldview. For some, President Trump’s tweets about a conniving elite and a corrupt media echo their feelings that the odds are against them. For others, George Orwell’s chronicle of totalitarian doublethink provides comfort that we’ve fought “alternative facts” before, and we’re still standing. Either way, people are reaching out to dark visions to make sense of an increasingly unrecognizable country. A well-told narrative, truthful or not, can awaken a reader’s imagination and push them to action–and a neat dystopia is often more satisfying than a complicated truth.