In celebration of the new year, as we find ourselves accepting the fact that we were all lied to about how prominent flying cars would be by now, we present a fantastical list of novels with plots based in galaxies far, far away… far, far into the future, with technological capabilities far, far cooler than what we could ever imagine. That’s right, just in time to take on 2020 with wide-eyed optimism, let’s travel to the future, booklovers!
The Time Machine by H.G. Wells
What better way to start a list about books having to do with a time beyond the present than with the author who coined the term “time machine” himself, H.G. Wells? In this aptly-titled novella, the narrator tells the story of a man simply referred to as the Time Traveller. And travel, he does. As far into the future as 802,701 A.D., where the London community he once knew has been reduced to a population of carefree, happy, childlike beings who seem to only be concerned about following their fruitarian diet and staying away from the dark. After wandering around, deducing, hypothesizing and doing whatever else it is that time-traveler scientist types do, he returns to the spot where he arrived to find that his time machine has gone missing…missing!
Turns out, those happy beings have a working class underbelly full of citizens who prefer to stay away from the light. We deduce that they might not be so comfortable with a strange, overly curious guy appearing out of nowhere and lurking about. We hypothesize that they just might try to kidnap him. Oh, and they could possibly be cannibals. Looks like the future is full of fun times all around according to good ol’ H.G.!
V for Vendetta by Alan Moore
Admittedly more fantasy than future these days, our next book of choice still fits the bill, given that it was originally published in 1982. The graphic novel centers around protagonist Evey Hammond, a 16-year-old inhabitant of a reimagined late 90s-era London that has been taken over by Norsefire, a new totalitarian regime birthed from a global nuclear war between the Soviet Union and the United States. Amid the uprising of the new government, Evey’s mother passes away and her father, a former socialist, is taken into custody.
Fast forward to Guy Fawkes Night in 1997. We find a financially desperate Evey making poor decisions as a means of getting cash when she is captured by V, a cloaked anarchist who keeps her stowed away in his creepy lair. Also known as the Shadow Gallery. Also known as the place he holds all manner of illegal doohickeys and thingamajigs that he lifts from his victims before they meet their maker. As Fate would have it—read the book to see what we did there—these victims all have a connection with V that involves shady dealings and disturbing behavior far greater than we can express here. If it’s up to Alan Moore, the future just may be something to fear.
Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
It’s the 2040s and havoc has been wreaked on the world by overpopulation and the effects of global warming, causing society to lose their minds…and their money. How do the inhabitants of futuristic Earth survive? Tried and true escapism. Gaming mogul James Donovan Halliday has created the primary source for relief with OASIS, a virtual-reality simulator that functions as both a multiplayer online role-playing game and as a virtual world in general. It’s a source that has become so popular, in fact, that its currency has accumulated value in the dilapidated Earth that people are trying so desperately to leave behind.
Enter Wade Watts, a young, skilled gamer who uses the simulator to temporarily ease the troubles that come from being poor and hungry. Imagine the delight when he learns that Mr. Halliday has left an Easter egg in OASIS and the first person to find it will inherit his entire fortune. Then, imagine his anxiety when he realizes that he’s definitely not the only one after the prize and as for the others…well, some are willing to do anything to get it. Here’s to a future full of fun and games…terrifying, life-threatening games.
Cinder by Marissa Meyer
Though Cinder may certainly feel familiar, you won’t find any singing rats around here. You will, however, find cyborgs. In the city of New Beijing we find Linh Cinder, a cyborg who holds down a fitting job as a mechanic during the day while being treated like spare parts by her mean old stepmother by night. Her mechanic shop gains a ton of popularity due to her handy workmanship; so much so that one day, while she’s minding her cyborg business, in walks Prince Kai (the son of the Emperor) in need of the best mechanic to fix his android. Seeing as how cyborgs are treated as second-class citizens because of their difference, Cinder hides her identity from the prince. No need to go getting oneself eternally punished just because you know your way around a tool box.
Anywho, there’s more to Meyer’s retelling than the mere loss of a shoe. There are plague-like diseases, bribery, a foiled wedding, murderous secrets and quite the twist to the whole guy-gets-the-girl-in-the-end plot. Basically, what we’re saying here is that the future is female.
We don’t know about you, but we’d say the future looks pretty…interesting. What are some of your favorite futuristic novels? And, be honest, what is the one thing you thought we’d for sure be able to do by 2020? We’re still pretty bitter about that whole broken flying cars promise.