Adult Dystopian Fiction

Category: Science Fiction, Dystopia, Cyberpunk, Fantasy

Published by Night Shade Books (out now)

The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi

Anderson Lake is a company man, AgriGen’s Calorie Man in Thailand. Under cover as a factory manager, Anderson combs Bangkok’s street markets in search of foodstuffs thought to be extinct, hoping to reap the bounty of history’s lost calories. There, he encounters Emiko…

Emiko is the Windup Girl, a strange and beautiful creature. One of the New People, Emiko is not human; instead, she is an engineered being, creche-grown and programmed to satisfy the decadent whims of a Kyoto businessman, but now abandoned to the streets of Bangkok. Regarded as soulless beings by some, devils by others, New People are slaves, soldiers, and toys of the rich in a chilling near future in which calorie companies rule the world, the oil age has passed, and the side effects of bio-engineered plagues run rampant across the globe.

What Happens when calories become currency? What happens when bio-terrorism becomes a tool for corporate profits, when said bio-terrorism’s genetic drift forces mankind to the cusp of post-human evolution? Award-winning author Paolo Bacigalupi delivers one of the most highly acclaimed science fiction novels of the twenty-first century.

Category: Dystopia, Cyberpunk

Published by Tor (out now)

Walkaway by Cory Doctorow

Hubert Vernon Rudolph Clayton Irving Wilson Alva Anton Jeff Harley Timothy Curtis Cleveland Cecil Ollie Edmund Eli Wiley Marvin Ellis Espinoza—known to his friends as Hubert, Etc—was too old to be at that Communist party.

But after watching the breakdown of modern society, he really has no where left to be—except amongst the dregs of disaffected youth who party all night and heap scorn on the sheep they see on the morning commute. After falling in with Natalie, an ultra-rich heiress trying to escape the clutches of her repressive father, the two decide to give up fully on formal society—and walk away.

After all, now that anyone can design and print the basic necessities of life—food, clothing, shelter—from a computer, there seems to be little reason to toil within the system.

It’s still a dangerous world out there, the empty lands wrecked by climate change, dead cities hollowed out by industrial flight, shadows hiding predators animal and human alike. Still, when the initial pioneer walkaways flourish, more people join them. Then the walkaways discover the one thing the ultra-rich have never been able to buy: how to beat death. Now it’s war – a war that will turn the world upside down.

Fascinating, moving, and darkly humorous, Walkaway is a multi-generation SF thriller about the wrenching changes of the next hundred years…and the very human people who will live their consequences.

Category: Dystopia, Cyberpunk

Published by Tor (out now)

Waste Tide by Chen Qiufan

Mimi is a ‘waste girl’, a member of the lowest caste on Silicon Isle.

Located off China’s southeastern coast, Silicon Isle is the global capital for electronic waste recycling, where thousands like Mimi toil day and night, hoping one day they too will enjoy the wealth they’ve created for their employers, the three clans who have ruled the isle for generations.

Luo Jincheng is the head of one of these clans, a role passed down from his father and grandfather before him. As the government enforces tighter restrictions, Luo in turn tightens the reins on the waste workers in his employ. Ruthlessness is his means of survival.

Scott Brandle has come to Silicon Isle representing TerraGreen Recycling, an American corporation that stands to earn ungodly sums if they can reach a deal to modernize the island’s recycling process.

Chen Kaizong, a Chinese American, travels to Silicon Isle as Scott’s interpreter. There, Kaizong is hoping to find his heritage, but finds more questions instead. The home he longs for may not exist.

As these forces collide, a dark futuristic virus is unleashed on the island, and war erupts between the rich and the poor; between Chinese tradition and American ambition; between humanity’s past and its future.

Category: Dystopia, survival, far-future

Published by Bancroft Press (out now)

Though the Earth Gives Way by Mark Johnson

Though The Earth Gives Way takes place in the aftermath of catastrophic climate disasters that have triggered a migration from the coasts to the center of the country. Nine strangers meet by chance at an old retreat center in Michigan. Each bears a unique burden of anger, guilt and complicity over the destruction that has cast them into a harsh, primitive world. To scavenge food, they must venture into a hostile landscape of survivors, some frightened, others murderous. What binds the small group of migrants to one another are the food they share and the nightly stories they tell one another. The stories wind up foreshadowing the group’s fate.

Category: Cli-fi, Dystopian future, Thriller, Survival story

Published by Troubador (out now)

Cold by Jim Pearce

The near future is a world in which scientists and their AI got it wrong.

Rising temperatures have caused fires that burned landmasses, and the ash from these fires block out the sun. The resulting cold is extreme, like a nuclear winter, and was a mass extinction event for human beings the world over. Electricity grids, communications and services all failed. Societies collapsed. Humanity is reduced to small groups of survivors, scraping by however they can.

Resources are scarce, and bands of survivors resort to violence to obtain enough food and fuel to survive.

A man and his family group have survived the cruel winter by hiding in a house in Surrey, but when a roaming gang starts to ravage the area, they are forced to run. As they flee to safety, the cohesion and tolerance that had kept them going for so long starts to fracture…

Category: Dystopia, fantasy

Published by Jo Fletcher Books (out now)

The Night Field by Donna Glee Williams

A magnificent, moving ecological fable: welcome to The Real, where Pyn-Poi’s people live in harmony with nature – until a brown fog threatens their whole world.

Pyn-Poi’s mother Marak wants her to grow up to be the matriarch of the tribe, learning how to cook, to make medicines, how to care for everyone, but Pyn-Poi would rather be out among the trees like her father Sook-Sook, learning how persuade tree roots into bridges, to feel when shoots are too crowded, when drooping leaves need attention.

Then something starts going wrong in The Real: when the rains come, instead of nourishment, they bring a stinking brown fog that’s poisoning people and plants alike. Pyn-Poi is the treewoman now: it’s her job. Their only chance is for her to climb to the land beyond the Wall, where the Ancestors live, to plead for their intercession

Pyn-Poi never expected to find a whole new world up there, with people who are very different from her own family and friends – a land where they are killing nature, and that’s killing The Real.

The trees have a job for Pyn-Poi, and to succeed, she is going to have to be brave and strong and true – no matter what.

Category: Dystopia, thriller

Published by Darkstroke Books (out now)

Tipping Point by Michelle Cook

A tale of loss, manipulation, and the search for the truth.

What would you risk to turn back the tide?

Essie Glass might have been a typical eighteen-year-old – had life not dealt her an early blow. Struggling to come to terms with the loss of her family in a terrorist attack, and left with nothing, Essie’s not kidding herself about her world. She wants change, and she’ll be honest about it, whatever the cost. From behind her keyboard, that is…

After all, this is England, 2035. Earth’s climate continues its accelerating collapse. A powerful elite controls the disaster-weary population with propaganda, intimidation, and constant surveillance.

By all appearances, Alex Langford is a respected local businessman – until Essie discovers that he’s a murderous conspirator who’d see the planet die for his fortune.

When their paths collide, Essie must decide: how much is she really willing to pay for her honesty?

Her choices, and the events she sets in motion, pit her against both enemies and supposed friends as she risks more than just her life to thwart them.

Will she succeed in revealing the truth? And will she survive?

Category: Dystopia, magical realism

Published by Grand Central (out now)

The Light Pirate by Lily Brooks-Dalton

Florida is slipping away. As devastating weather patterns and rising sea levels gradually wreak havoc on the state’s infrastructure, a powerful hurricane approaches a small town on the southeastern coast. Kirby Lowe, an electrical line worker; his pregnant wife, Frida; and their two sons, Flip and Lucas, prepare for the worst. When the boys go missing just before the hurricane hits, Kirby heads out into the high winds to search for them. Left alone, Frida goes into premature labor and gives birth to an unusual child, Wanda, whom she names after the catastrophic storm that ushers her into a society closer to collapse than ever before.

As Florida continues to unravel, Wanda grows. Moving from childhood to adulthood, adapting not only to the changing landscape, but also to the people who stayed behind in a place abandoned by civilization, Wanda loses family, gains community, and ultimately, seeks adventure, love, and purpose in a place remade by nature.

Told in four parts—power, water, light, and time—The Light Pirate mirrors the rhythms of the elements and the sometimes quick, sometimes slow dissolution of the world as we know it. It is a meditation on the changes we would rather not see, the future we would rather not greet, and a call back to the beauty and violence of an untamable wilderness.

Category: Dystopia, solarpunk, far-future

Published by NewCon Press (out now)

Water Must Fall by Nick Wood

A gripping saga of human struggle, political intrigue, corporate fraud and murder in a near future where water is worth killing for.

As the planet continues to thirst and slowly perish, will water ever fall?

The year is 2048. Climate change has brought catastrophe and water has become the most precious commodity on Earth. Water companies play god and determine the fate of millions.

In Africa, Graham Mason struggles to come to terms with the changing world and save his marriage to Lizette, who is torn between loyalty to their relationship and to her people.

In Northern California, Arthur Green battles to find ways of saving water and root out corruption, even when his family are threatened by those he seeks to expose.

Determined to uncover the truth on two continents, Graham, Liz, and Art are caught up in a new uprising, a desperate attempt to challenge those set on appropriating the world’s remaining water for their own gain. In the FreeFlow Corporation they face a common enemy, but do they have any hope of prevailing against a power that is so ruthless and so entrenched?

As the planet continues to thirst and slowly perish, will water ever fall?

Category: Dystopia, Survival

Published by Little, Brown (out now)

California by Edan Lepucki

A gripping and provocative debut novel by a stunning new talent, California imagines a frighteningly realistic near future, in which clashes between mankind’s dark nature and deep-seated resilience force us to question how far we will go to protect the ones we love.

The world Cal and Frida have always known is gone, and they’ve left the crumbling city of Los Angeles far behind them. They now live in a shack in the wilderness, working side-by-side to make their days tolerable in the face of hardship and isolation. Mourning a past they can’t reclaim, they seek solace in each other. But the tentative existence they’ve built for themselves is thrown into doubt when Frida finds out she’s pregnant.

Terrified of the unknown and unsure of their ability to raise a child alone, Cal and Frida set out for the nearest settlement, a guarded and paranoid community with dark secrets. These people can offer them security, but Cal and Frida soon realize this community poses dangers of its own. In this unfamiliar world, where everything and everyone can be perceived as a threat, the couple must quickly decide whom to trust. 

Category: Dystopia, Science Fiction

Published by Titan (out now)

Clade by James Bradley

On a beach in Antarctica, scientist Adam Leith marks the passage of the summer solstice. Back in Sydney his partner Ellie waits for the results of her latest round of IVF treatment.

That result, when it comes, will change both their lives and propel them into a future neither could have predicted. In a collapsing England Adam will battle to survive an apocalyptic storm. Against a backdrop of growing civil unrest at home, Ellie will discover a strange affinity with beekeeping. In the aftermath of a pandemic, a young man finds solace in building virtual recreations of the dead. And new connections will be formed from the most unlikely beginnings.

Clade is the story of one family in a radically changing world, a place of loss and wonder where the extraordinary mingles with the everyday. Haunting, lyrical and unexpectedly hopeful, it is the work of a writer in command of the major themes of our time. 

Category: Dystopia, Science Fiction, near future, survival

Published by DAW Books (out now)

Glimmer by Marjorie B. Kellogg

This new cli-fi epic chronicles a future NYC wracked by climate change and follows the individuals who must make the most of what remains to survive.

It’s 2110, the Earth’s glaciers have melted, and there’s no climate fix in sight. As refugees stream inland from the inundated coasts, social structures and national economies are stressed to the point of fracture. Food production falters. Pandemics rage. Rising sea level and devastating superstorms have flooded much of Manhattan and wrecked its infrastructure. Its residents have mostly fled, but a few die-hards have bet their survival on the hope that digging in and staying local is a safer strategy.

As the weather worsens, can a damaged population of poor folk, artists, misfits, and loners work out their differences in time to create a sustainable long-term society? In a lawless city, where the well-armed rich have appropriated the high ground, can an ex-priest find a middle road between non-violence and all-out war? The lives of his downtown band of leftovers will depend on it.

Sheltering among them, a young girl named Glimmer struggles to regain a past lost to trauma. As her memory returns, she finds she must choose who and how to be, and who and what to believe in, even if it means giving up a love she has only recently found herself able to embrace.

Category: Dystopia, Science Fiction

Published by Gollancz (out now)

Austral by Paul McAuley

The great geoengineering projects have failed.

The world is still warming, sea levels are still rising, and the Antarctic Peninsula is home to Earth’s newest nation, with life quickened by ecopoets spreading across valleys and fjords exposed by the retreat of the ice.

Austral Morales Ferrado, a child of the last generation of ecopoets, is a husky: an edited person adapted to the unforgiving climate of the far south, feared and despised by most of its population.

She’s been a convict, a corrections officer in a labour camp, and consort to a criminal, and now, out of desperation, she has committed the kidnapping of the century.

But before she can collect the ransom and make a new life elsewhere, she must find a place of safety amongst the peninsula’s forests and icy plateaus, and evade a criminal gang that has its own plans for the teenage girl she’s taken hostage.

Blending the story of Austral’s flight with the fractured history of her family and its role in the colonisation of Antarctica, Austral is a vivid portrayal of a treacherous new world created by climate change, and shaped by the betrayals and mistakes of the past.

Category: Dystopia, Science Fiction

Published by L’Atalante (out now)

Alliances by Jean Marc Ligny

On an Earth whose climate has radically changed as a result of global warming, local oases and microclimates have allowed life to shelter and even develop. But what is man’s place in such an ecosystem, faced with the probable emergence of a new dominant species on the planet? There could be unprecedented alliances to be made. Tikaani, the Inuit, who left Iceland on board a solar plane, Ophelia, the healer lurking in her jungle in Canada, Denn and Nao, who left their cave tribe in the desert that California has become: all of them are looking for survivors, some of them dreaming of restoring humanity’s place. But they will learn that what is left of mankind can still harm the planet…

Category: Dystopia, Science Fiction

Published by NewCon Press (out now)

Edge of Heaven by R.B. Kelly

April 2119: in the Reserve Naturelle de l Auvergne, a dog walker makes a gruesome discovery – a badly decomposed body, half buried under a landslide. In that moment of horror, she sets in motion a chain of events that will bring catastrophe in their wake. Three hundred miles away, a bi-level city towers above the wastelands of Provence. This is Creo, a permanent relocation center for the dispossessed of a planet where livable space is at a premium. In the dark, honeycomb districts of the lower city, CreoBasse, Danae Grant nurses the sort of secret that can get a person killed, while Boston Turrow lives a little life and plans for a better future maybe even a job where nobody punches him. CreoBasse is not the land of happy-ever-afters, so, when they find themselves unexpectedly thrown together, neither one of them is prepared for the strength of their connection.

But a critical mass is simmering in the streets of the lower city. It started with the closing of the city gates and the gradual, insidious buildup of CDC operatives. In a city of almost 100 million people, shut off from the sunlight and fed air through ancient filters, they ve seen this sort of thing before but this is different. The night that Boston and Danae fall in love, martial law is declared. The city is dying, and no one knows how to stop it. Except Danae thinks she might have an idea. The secret she has been holding onto for so long may well be the key to ending the new plague, a pestilence that nothing else can stop. But stepping forward is tantamount to suicide. And then Boston begins to cough. Danae is going to have to make a choice: what will she give up to save the one glorious thing in an inglorious life?”

Category: Dystopia, Science Fiction, Cyberpunk, India

Published by Gollancz (out now)

River of Gods by Ian McDonald

As Mother India approaches her centenary, nine people are going about their business–a gangster, a cop, his wife, a politician, a stand-up comic, a set designer, a journalist, a scientist, and a dropout. And so is Aj–the waif, the mind reader, the prophet–when she one day finds a man who wants to stay hidden.

In the next few weeks, they will all be swept together to decide the fate of the nation.

River of Gods teems with the life of a country choked with peoples and cultures–one and a half billion people, twelve semi-independent nations, nine million gods. Ian McDonald has written the great Indian novel of the new millennium, in which a war is fought, a love betrayed, a message from a different world decoded, as the great river Ganges flows on.

Category: Dystopia, Science Fiction, Politics

Published by Corvus (out now)

America City by Chris Beckett

America, one century on: a warmer climate is causing vast movements of people. Droughts, floods and hurricanes force entire populations to simply abandon their homes. Tensions are mounting between north and south, and some northern states are threatening to close their borders against homeless fellow-Americans from the south.

Against this backdrop, an ambitious young British-born publicist, Holly Peacock, meets a new client, the charismatic Senator Slaymaker, a politician whose sole mission is to keep America together, reconfiguring the entire country in order to meet the challenge of the new climate realities as a single, united nation. When he runs for President, Holly becomes his right hand woman, doing battle on the whisperstream, where stories are everything and truth counts for little.

But can they bring America together – or have they set the country on a new, but equally devastating, path?

Category: Dystopia, Science Fiction

Published by 47North and NewCon Press (out now)

Bridge 108 by Anne Charnock

From the Arthur C. Clarke Award–winning author, a dystopian novel of oppression set in the climate-ravaged Europe of A Calculated Life, a finalist for the Kitschies award and Philip K. Dick Award. Late in the twenty-first century, drought and wildfires prompt an exodus from southern Europe. When twelve-year-old Caleb is separated from his mother during their trek north, he soon falls prey to traffickers. Enslaved in an enclave outside Manchester, the resourceful and determined Caleb never loses hope of bettering himself. After Caleb is befriended by a fellow victim of trafficking, another road opens. Hiding in the woodlands by day, guided by the stars at night, he begins a new journey—to escape to a better life, to meet someone he can trust, and to find his family. For Caleb, only one thing is certain: making his way in the world will be far more difficult than his mother imagined. Told through multiple voices and set against the backdrop of a haunting and frighteningly believable future, Bridge 108 charts the passage of a young boy into adulthood amid oppressive circumstances that are increasingly relevant to our present day.

Category: Dystopia, Science Fiction

Published by Inanna Publications (out now)

A Diary in the Age of Water by Nina Munteanu

Centuries from now, in a post-climate change dying boreal forest of what used to be northern Canada, Kyo, a young acolyte called to service in the Exodus, discovers a diary that may provide her with the answers to her yearning for Earth’s past—to the Age of Water, when the “Water Twins” destroyed humanity. Kyo is led to the diary of a limnologist from the time just prior to the destruction. This gritty memoir describes a near-future Toronto in the grips of severe water scarcity during a time when China owns the USA and the USA owns Canada. A Diary in the Age of Water follows the climate-induced journey of Earth and humanity through four generations of women, each with a unique relationship to water. The novel explores identity and our concept of what is “normal”—as a nation and an individual—in a world that is rapidly and incomprehensibly changing.

Category: Dystopia, Thriller

Published by Urbane Publications (out now)

Blue Gold by David Barker

The near future. Climate change and geopolitical tension have given rise to a new international threat – a world war for water. This most vital of resources has become a precious commodity and some will stop at nothing to control its flow.

When a satellite disappears over Iceland, Sim Atkins thinks he knows why. He is given the chance to join the hallowed Overseas Division and hunt for the terrorists responsible. But his new partner Freda Brightwell is aggrieved to be stuck with a rookie on such a deadly mission.

Freda’s misgivings are well founded when their first assignment ends in disaster – a bomb destroys a valuable airship and those responsible evade capture. Seeking redemption, the British agents follow the trail to a billionaires’ tax haven in the middle of the Atlantic ocean and uncover a web of deceit that threatens global war. Whom can they trust?

As the world edges ever closer to destruction Sim and Freda must put their lives on the line to prevent Armageddon – and protect the future of ‘blue gold’.

Category: Dystopia, Science Fiction, LGBT

Published by Seven Stories Press (out now)

All City by Alex DiFrancesco

In a near-future New York City in which both global warming and a tremendous economic divide are making the city unlivable for many, a huge superstorm hits leaving behind only those those who had nowhere else to go and no way to get out.

Here Makayla, a 24-year-old woman who works at the convenience store chain that’s overtaken the city, and Jesse, an 18-year-old genderqueer anarchist punk who lives in an abandoned IRT station in the Bronx, and an unnamed, mysterious street artist who paints the suffering of those left behind into the world’s consciousness, all struggle to rebuild their lives in a city that has left them for dead. When they carve out a small space of reprieve from an abandoned luxury condo, it is only a matter of time before those who own the building come back to claim what is theirs.

All City is more than a novel, it’s a foreshadowing of a world to come.

Category: Dystopia, Science Fiction, Cyberpunk, Thriller

Published by Angry Robot (out now)

Essay: How to Build a Solarpunk City

Implanted by Lauren C. Teffeau

The data stored in her blood can save a city on the brink… or destroy it, in this gripping cyberpunk thriller.
When college student Emery Driscoll is blackmailed into being a courier for a clandestine organisation, she’s cut off from the neural implant community which binds the domed city of New Worth together. Her new masters exploit her rare condition which allows her to carry encoded data in her blood, and train her to transport secrets throughout the troubled city. New Worth is on the brink of Emergence – freedom from the dome – but not everyone wants to leave. Then a data drop goes bad, and Emery is caught between factions: those who want her blood, and those who just want her dead.

Category: Dystopia, Science Fiction

Published by Sandstone Press (June 2021)

Kings of a Dead World by Jamie Mollart

The Earth’s resources are dwindling. The solution is The Sleep: periods of hibernation imposed on those who remain with only a Janitor to watch over the sleepers. In the sleeping city, elderly Ben struggles with his limited waking time and the disease which is stealing his wife from him. Outside, lonely Janitor Peruzzi craves the family he never knew. Around them both, dissatisfaction is growing. The city is about to wake.

Category: Dystopia, Eco-thriller

Published by Burning Chair Publishing (out now)

10:59 by N. R. Baker

With the power of life and death at your fingertips, who would you save? If you knew the future was in your hands and time was running out, how far would you go? In this controversial thriller, Louis Crawford is one teenager who doesn’t know everything. He doesn’t know that the world is about to end, and he doesn’t know that his new employer is hiding a monstrous secret. But he’s about to find out. Described as hard-hitting and humorous, thought-provoking and inspiring, N.R. Baker’s 10:59 may be one of the most important books you’ll ever read. An apocalyptic thriller with a difference, it challenges the greatest taboo of our time and will have you questioning everything you thought you knew.

Category: Science Fiction, Dystopia

Published by Penguin Random House (out now)

The Eye and the Flower by Claudia Aboaf

Translated from the Spanish by Allison A. deFreese

Set in a parched, dystopic future that is experiencing an environmental catastrophe, Claudia Aboaf’s compelling novel The Eye and the Flower is a warning and a call to action about the environment, as well as a lyric love poem to the unbreakable bonds between women and sisters who—both together and separately—navigate an ecologically and emotionally depleted landscape. Written in three acts, The Eye and the Flower is a gorgeously crafted book with a narrative voice that flows into a lush, imagistic prose and cascades into fresh and vibrant poetic language. This is a story unlike any other you have read and is filled with both linguistic and thematic surprises. Set in and around the Delta del Tigre, Aboaf’s book follows the divergent paths of two sisters whose journeys traverse a world where childhood is a tapestry of brutal illusions, abuse is real but silenced, natural resources are dwindling, capitalism has led to an uninhabitable political climate, and the water is disappearing—leaving in its wake arid river beds, stranded boats, and a literal thirst for gentler times and survival. With our world in 2020 reeling from the impact of a global pandemic and fascist political structures as polar icecaps melt and cities around the globe either drown in hurricanes or typhoons, or else bake in record temperatures that turn prairies into deserts, Claudia Aboaf’s story of two sisters’ poignantly personal journeys into an uncertain future reality is more powerful and urgent than ever today. Now is the moment for The Eye and the Flower to reach a larger audience on the world stage through translation into English. This book will speak to English language readers across the UK, Europe, North America, Australia, Asia—and beyond. It brings us a message we are ready to hear now more so than at any other time in our lives or in history, in an era when social and environmental movements are in full force around the world—from activism in Taiwan, to civil rights marches in the U.S., to climate change advocacy in Papua New Guinea or Sweden. This elegant and exquisitely crafted book addresses relevant issues related to the environment, politics, equity, feminism, and social justice at a moment when the world is also taking notice. As we confront new social and political realities and increased isolation, English-speaking audiences are ready—and waiting—for this message, for the melancholy yet moving music of Claudia Aboaf’s delicately perceptive and urgent book.

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