The Trend-O-Matic was a groundbreaking machine that decrypted Nazi messages during World War 2. It contributed to the sinking of countless German submarines and helped the Allies overcome the forces of evil. Now all it does is spit out Young Adult book recommendations. It sits in the back of Tallaght Library, delivered there by mistake after Dell mixed up our order for a new PC.
Recently an engineer predicted the end of the world would happen on Sunday the 22th of May at 6PM. The fact you’re sitting here reading this says all we need to know about his fortune-telling prowess, but he hasn’t been the first to predict the apocalypse and he won’t be the last. People are obsessed with the future, with the idea that it’s a place of earth-quakes, diseases and war, which begs the question: What is wrong with us? Eh? Come again?
The answer is: nothing really. We tell stories to put some kind of shape on the mess of weddings, funerals, ex-boyfriends, ex-girlfriends and exams that is the world. The easiest way to make sense of the future is to tell a story about it, using what we know about what’s already happened and what’s happening now. Sometimes we tell stories about the future to try and make sense of what’s going on in the world today. When Yevgeny Zamyatin wrote ‘We’ in 1921, a book about a city of glass where everyone can see what everyone else is doing and no one is allowed to be different, he wasn’t writing about the future. He was writing about Soviet Russia, but Soviet Russia was a dangerous to tell the truth, so he hid his story behind a mask and pretended he was talking about the future.
The following are some of the best stories, both for teenagers and adults, being written about the future today. They’re savage, brutal stories but in all of them there’s a germ of hope, the idea that it’s always possible for one person to make a difference. Feel strongly about some of our choices? Are there novels you think are just as good or even better than the ones we’ve picked? Why not comment below, or even better, why not send us a review?
‘HUNGER GAMES’ by SUZANNE COLLINS
In the ruins of America, 24 teenagers must fight to the death in a futuristic arena. Katniss Everdeen has been chosen to fight for her district. If she wins the games, she’ll bring wealth and food back to her impoverished home. If she loses, she’ll die on television to the jeers and delight of the mob. ‘The Hunger Games’ is a terrifying glimpse of reality TV gone mad.
‘UGLIES’ by SCOTT WESTERFELD
Nowadays, when you turn sixteen you have a party, you hang out with your friends, eat cake and watch trashy movies. In ‘Uglies’, when you turn sixteen the government gives you plastic surgery. Tally can’t wait for her birthday, to become a ‘pretty’ with supermodel good-looks. That’s until she meets Shay, a 15 year-old girl who knows the truth, that there is something very, very wrong with their perfect world.
‘THE INFERIOR’ by PEADAR O’GUILIN
Stopmouth is a cannibal. His family and friends are cannibals. They live in a dangerous wilderness surrounded by bizarre, alien creatures who want to eat them. It’s a tough life. When a strange woman plummets from the sky with unimaginable technology, Stopmouth starts questioning everything he’s ever believed, and those questions start making life even tougher. Those questions might mean the next person his family and friends eat is him.
‘THE DECLARATION’ by GEMMA MALLEY
Imagine death has been cured, the world is over-populated and children are illegal. Now stop imagining and read Gemma Malley’s ‘The Declaration’. Anna is a Surplus, a child born to a world that doesn’t want her. She lives in Surplus Hall, in a prison for children that shouldn’t have been born. It’s a hard life. Too hard, because Anna is starting to dream of another life, a life outside the darkness and the walls and the locked doors…
‘LITTLE BROTHER’ by CORY DOCTOROW
After terrorists bomb San Francisco, Marcus and his friends find themselves in a police-state where everything they do and say is watched and recorded. Marcus knows he deserves better, so he fights back in the only way he knows how: the Internet! ‘Little Brother’ is set in the not-so-distant future, an explosive techno-thriller that’s also a beginner’s guide to starting a revolution.