Fiction with a technology theme

(35 Posts)
barchestergirl Mon 11-Nov-13 20:21:49

I'm teaching a course about the impacts of technology on society, which is based around films and books. I need to find fiction with an interesting take on this - it doesn't need to be sci-fi, as long some there is some interesting technology angle - stuff like what it means to be human (can robots feel?), what is the impact of the ability to monitor us all online - anything, really. I'd love a range of periods (e.g., Victorian (or earlier) take on the growing impact of technology right up to modern) and especially a variety of format - some poetry or plays would be great, as well as short stories and novels.

If anyone has any ideas of stuff to get the next generation thinking, let me know!

BerstieSpotts Mon 11-Nov-13 20:24:30

Matched is really good, it's about a society in the future where everything is predicted and the title comes from the concept of a "Matching ball" where you are digitally matched at the age of 16 with your perfect spouse. The theme is the characters coming to realise that choice might be more important than what is "best".

BerstieSpotts Mon 11-Nov-13 20:24:50

It's by Ally Condie.

The Machine by James Smythe

CoteDAzur Tue 12-Nov-13 18:01:16

"stuff like what it means to be human (can robots feel?)"
(1) Blade Runner (film) = Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep? (book) - Philip K Dick.
(2) Bicentennial Man (film) with Robin Williams & Sam Neill

"what is the impact of the ability to monitor us all online"
1984 - George Orwell

Impact of full-immersion computer games:
(1) eXistenZ (film) by David Cronenberg
(2) Ready Player One (book) - Ernest Cline

Impact of nano-technology:
Diamond Age - Neal Stephenson

I read/watch a lot in this sub-genre grin

Cote's beaten me to, 'Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep.'

Brave New World - some great stuff about how people are created basically on a production line, to different orders.

Philip Pullman's, 'The Shadow in the North' has a train which fires millions of bullets out of holes in its sides, to deal with uprisings.

BerstieSpotts Tue 12-Nov-13 20:13:40

And the Hitchiker's Guide to the Galaxy, of course grin

IHadADreamThatWasNotAllADream Tue 12-Nov-13 20:26:57

Anything by Neal Stephenson - it's very much his speciality and he does this stuff in more detail than almost anyone else. Unfortunately his books are normally enormously long, so if you expected your students to read a whole one then it wouldn't leave much time for anything else.

The new Terry Pratchett is in this area and might be worth a look.

CoteDAzur Tue 12-Nov-13 21:33:35

You could also take a look at short stories.

Data storage system in the brain:
Johnny Mneumonic (film with Keanu Reeves & short story by William Gibson)

Cloning, "what is human?" etc:
An Orison Of Somni-452 (short story in the book Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell)

CoteDAzur Tue 12-Nov-13 21:37:13

It's been several decades since I read Hitchhiker's Guide To The Universe but iirc it wasn't about any technology and less about tech's effect on society.

BerstieSpotts Tue 12-Nov-13 22:00:43

Ah, true, I was just thinking about the fact it had this futuristic technology in it, and Marvin the paranoid android etc? But yes it probably is a bit of a stretch.

CoteDAzur Tue 12-Nov-13 22:28:15

Futuristic for the '70s when it was written maybe.

Scarlettsstars Wed 13-Nov-13 00:50:36

I'd recommend Marge Piercys Body of Glass - about cyborgs/ electronic consciousnesses set in a future dominated by corporations. Draws parallels between the plight of Jews living in ghettos in the past and the electronic ghettos of the cyber world. Poems: mum, what about Edwin Muirs The Horses? Post apocalyptic take on the nature and forms of 'technology'

Hitchhikers Guide might be an interesting read because the central piece of technology (the Guide itself) was entirely fictional when the book was written. It is now used by millions of people around the world everyday (aka iPad or tablet). Right down to the handy wipe-clean cover!

exexpat Wed 13-Nov-13 01:52:06

Asimov - I Robot
Snow Crash - Neal Stephenson
Lots of things by William Gibson

By technology are you including things like railways and general industrialisation? They are background themes in a lot of 19thC novels.

This article is quite interesting about the railways in fiction]] with plenty of ideas for books.

What about Elizabeth Gaskell's novel Cranford about the impact of the arrival of the railway to a small town?

lookatmycameltoe Wed 13-Nov-13 05:47:39

I recently read 'kiss me first' by Lottie Moggach.
NOT great literature I might add but an interesting look on the power of social media, stalking online and modern relationships in the Facebook era.

CoteDAzur Wed 13-Nov-13 09:06:21

Neal Stephenson is one of my favorite writers, ever.

Snow Crash is indeed brilliant. It is in Time magazine's list of 100 Best English-Language Books Of All Time (published since Time debuted in 1923).

bsc Wed 13-Nov-13 20:43:01

Ha! Cote- Neal Stephenson is also one of my favourite writers (prob 2nd to Murakami)... so how can you like Dune?

grin

I was going to recommend Gibson, and Vernor Vinge's "Fire Upon the Deep" or Mary Doria Russell's "The Sparrow".

Non-fiction, what about "city of Bits" by William J Mitchell.

If you're happy with more sci-fi recommendations, then also Tad Williams' "Otherland" - over 4 books, but 1 story arc, about a VR world, and much more...

CoteDAzur Wed 13-Nov-13 20:54:43

Gibson was great until All Tomorrow's Parties (1999) which was just not very good. His later books got progressively worse, too. Pattern Recognition, for example, was truly awful. I'd say he has gone senile but his tweets on Twitter are great.

Neal Stephenson keeps getting better, though. One of his latest, Anathem, was mind-blowing. His latest Reamde was a disappointment, but I can forgive him that once wink

bsc Wed 13-Nov-13 21:04:11

I was thinking of older things like Idoru and the famous one which neame excapes me confused

CoteDAzur Wed 13-Nov-13 21:56:18

Neuromancer? Yes, it was good. Idoru was I think my favourite book by William Gibson (although I can't remember much about it now).

Indith Wed 13-Nov-13 22:01:14

There are some sort stories you can get on kindle, David wailing is the author. They have Facebook related names, time line, friend request and stuff like that. They are about people getting totally obsessed and bagging everything on their social networking. and social networking knowing everything about us. They are pretty decent little stories.

The Night Sessions, Ken MacLeod - some robots get religion in a society where religion has been marginalised.

bsc Wed 13-Nov-13 23:06:54

Thank you! Yes, Neuromancer.

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