Science Fiction fans - please bring your expertise over here!(56 Posts)
Hi all, I've recently got interested in how SF engages with right-to-life issues and I'm trying to put together a reading list for myself. I'd be very grateful for any recommendations you could add to my existing list, particularly focusing on euthanasia, infanticide, fertility control, suicide, assisted suicide, and aging populations (due to infertility/medical breakthroughs).
So far I have:
- The Logan Trilogy by William F Nolan (and the film and TV series);
- Brave New World by Aldous Huxley;
- Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro;
- The Giver by Lois Lowry;
- The Machine Stops by EM Forster;
- Kirinyaga by Mike Resnick;
- The Sleeper Awakes by HG Wells;
- Case of Conscience by James Bish;
- The Fixed Period by Anthony Trollope;
- Make Room! Make Room! by Harry Harrison (and Soylent Green);
- The Children of Men by PD James;
- The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood.
Any ideas about useful SF textbooks/histories or books about euthanasia, assisted suicide, population control, overpopulation etc would also be much appreciated.
Thanks in advance to anybody who's kind enough to make further suggestions!
PS - I'm not a slacking journalist, I'm a regular MNer and have just changed my name in case anybody from my university recognises me based on my research interests.
The new film Robot and Frank is set in the near future about an old catburgler with alzeimers and the robot he is given to look after him.
Film-wise 'Gattaca' deals with engineered embryos, licenses to reproduce and follows the life of a child conceived 'naturally' and the prejudice and discrimination he faces.
Have definitely read other stuff on this - Spares has been mentioned and is excellent - I'll go have a browse of my bookshelves and get back to you...
Movies: Z.P.G - In Time- Fortress- Soylent Green-
Tv show- Terra Nova-
I found a list someone else has compiled for books:
Frederik Pohl, The Census Takers (1956), (unread)
J. G. Ballard, The Concentration City (variant titles: Build-Up and The Disaster Area) (1957), 4.75/5 (Very Good)
Robert Silverberg, Master of Life and Death (1957), .25/5 (horrible)
Robert Sheckley, The Minimum Man (1958), 4.25/5 (Good)
Robert Bloch, This Crowded Earth (1958), (unread)
Anthony Burgess, The Wanting Seed (1962), (unread)
J. G. Ballard, Billenium (1962), (unread)
Lester Del Rey, The Eleventh Commandment (1962, revised 1970), 3.75/5 (Good)
Frederik Pohl, The Deadly Mission of Phineas Snodgrass (1962, revised as The Deadly Mission of P. Snodgrass, 1970), (unread)
Jane Roberts, The Rebellers (1963), (unread)
Brian W. Aldiss, Earthworks (1965), rating: 3.5/5 (Average)
D. G. Compton, The Quality of Mercy (1965), rating: 4/5 (Good)
Harry Harrison, Make Room! Make Room! (1966) (unread)
Roger Zelazny, The Dream Master (1966), (unread)
Philip E. High, The Mad Metropolis (1966), (unread)
Robert Silverberg, To Open the Sky (1967) (unread)
Robert Silverberg, The Time Hoppers (1967), rating: 2.5/5 (Average)
Louis Charbonneau, Down to Earth (1967), rating: 2/5 (Bad)
Irving A. Greenfield, Waters of Death (1967), rating: 1/5 (Terrible)
James Blish and Norman L. Knight, A Torrent of Faces (1967), (unread)
John Brunner, Stand on Zanibar (1968), rating: 5/5 (Masterpiece my all time favorite sci-fi novel)
Kurt Vonnegut, Welcome to the Monkey House (1968), (unread)
Roger Zelazny, The Eve of RUMOKO (1969), rating: 3/5 (Average)
Joanna Russ, And Chaos Died (1970), rating 4.5/5 (Very Good)
Dean R. Koontz, Anti-Man (1970), (unread)
Don Pendleton, 1989: Population Doomsday (variant title: Population Doomsday), (unread)
T. J. Bass, Half Past Human (1971), rating: 2.5/5 (Average)
Robert Silverberg, The World Inside (1971), rating: 5/5 (Masterpiece)
Max Ehrlich, The Edict (1971), (unread)
Ursula Le Guin, The Lathe of Heaven (1971), (unread)
Thomas M. Disch, 334 (1972), (unread)
Michael Elder, Nowhere on Earth (1972), (unread)
Edmund Cooper, The Tenth Planet (1973), (unread)
John Jakes, On Wheels (1973), (unread)
Stanislaw Lem, The Futurological Congress (1974), (unread)
J. G. Ballard, High-Rise (1975), rating: 4.5/5 (Very Good)
Evelyn E. Smith, Unpopular Planet (1975), (unread)
Chelsea Quinn Yarbro, Time of the Fourth Horseman (1976), (unread)
Mark Adlard, Interface (1977), (unread)
Axel Madsen, Unisave (1980), (unread)
Philip José Farmer, Dayworld (1985), (unread)
Philip José Farmer, Dayworld Rebel (1987), (unread)
Barry B. Longyear, Sea of Glass (1987), (unread)
Philip José Farmer, Dayworld Breakup (1990), (unread)
If tv counts, the latest Torchwood series ( can't remember the title! The American one) had not dying as its main plot point ( though rather squandered it IMO).
Star Trek: The Next Generation. Deanna Troi's mum gets romantically involved with an alien. She is shocked when she finds out that, despite being only in his 60s and healthy, he is about to get voluntary euthanized because in their culture the old don't want to be a burden to the young. The alien at first is pursuaded to reject his culture but his daughter puts pressure on him and in the end he decides to be euthanized.
The episode ends with Mrs Troi deciding that she will join his loved ones and be a witness to his death.
Forever War by Joe Haldane. It's not solely about what you are interested in but does touch on some of those issues. Also, it's just amazing. I don't normally read sci-fi but that book is one of my favourite of all time.
(On which note, is Hyperion worth it? DP reads them all, I was debating whether to try that one)
Sorry, just noticed it had already been mentioned! Consider this an extra vote, as it really is worth reading.
'Spares' by Michael Marshall Smith is not very well known, but an excellent story of people reared to provide spare organs for the rich.
Hyperion is brilliant but it doesn't touch anything like right to life issues, euthanasia, fertility control etc that OP mentioned. Neither do its sequels, iirc.
I was going to mention Heinlein, I vaguely remember there being a requirement to have a license to have children in Starship Troopers. Also the Hyperion and Endymion cycles by Dan Simmons address a variety of life issues, Endymion more, but Hyperion is worth reading too and it comes first. (They're trilogies but I think of them as one book each. Kind of like LotR)
Michael Marshall Smith "Spares". The Island movie sounds like it could be based on that book.
And, pedant alert, it's Iain M Banks for the sic-fi; Iain Banks for regular fiction. Same author; slightly different name.
Flowers for Algernon - Daniel Keyes
Chocky - John Wyndham
And has anyone mentioned 'The Declaration' trilogy (Gemma Malley)? Dystopian future where no one gets dies, and babies are banned. It's an excellent YA read, though the current cover makes it look like a Hunger Games ripoff. And of course, the Hunger Games are good too.
John Christopher - The Death of Grass, The World in Winter, A Wrinkle in the Skin...
All have an apocalyptic event, but deal with ugly aftermath of a destroyed society having to begin again. He seems to like an anthill metaphor - if the anthill is damaged the ants act as a community to repair it.... but if the anthill is very, very badly damaged a tipping point is reached where the ants run round like headless chickens (to completely mix metaphors) and are incapable of repairing the damage.
His young adult books deal with similar themes, too, but are generally much more optismistic.
And thanks SnowWoman, I didn't know Nina Bawden did any SF. I'll have to check that out
I'd recommend several books by Lois McMaster Bujold - Falling Free is about humans who are genetically engineered for living in freefall (quaddies with an extra pair of arms instead of legs), and what happens when they're no longer needed by the company who developed them and owns them.
The impact of artificial wombs and how society is affected by this technology is included in her Vorkosigan series, including fertility control through contraceptive implants in an otherwise free and liberal society. The main character in this series has physical disabilities in a world that is very much unsupportive (there's a short story called 'Mountains of Mourning' about infanticide in the more rural areas, which the main character is sent to investigate).
The stand-alone book 'Ethan of Athos' is particularly interesting as it's about an all-male society where the majority of the population has never had any contact with females.
I've made them sound very grim, but they're also very good reads and funny in places, but they do make you think!
ThreeBeeOneGee - I wish I could borrow them, but sadly I have to scribble all over my books in order to analyse and remember things (terrible habit, makes being a lit student very expensive)! Fortunately my research stipend covers all of this, so I don't have to feel as guilty/horrified as I did when I was an undergraduate.
Thank you for the recommendations, all - this project has gone from daunting to really exciting! I really appreciate your help and I'm so happy to have found this lovely sub-forum - I'm certain I'll be spending a lot more time here from now on .
It's free here Threebee! I have just discovered this and am going crazy with reserving.
Bumped by Megan McCafferty, 0.4 by Mike Lancaster, Unwind by Neal Shusterman, Off the Road by Nina Bawden, all YA novels.
Pegasus in Flight and The Ship Who Sang both by Anne McCaffrey, and Native Tongue by Suzette Haden Elgin all give views of a future society and its attitudes to overpopulation and disability.
Enjoy your reading - it sounds fascinating.
deserve? I meant reserve but my phone had other ideas.
You don't have to buy them all. Most of them would be available to deserve from your local library. In the county where I am, it only costs 60p per reservation.
This Perfect Day by Ira Levin - future society where everyone has monthly drug treatments to keep them 'healthy' - but actually to keep them complacent and under control. Everyone dies at around 62 - a few at 61 or 63, just so it doesn't look suspicious, and there is control of reproduction too.
There is a Brian Aldiss book called Greybeard about aging population due to infertility.
The recent thriller series Utopia had eugenics/ enforced sterilisation as a theme.
Thank you everybody, these suggestions are brilliant! (Even if I am about to spend more on Amazon than I spend in Sainsbury's over the course of a fortnight... )
Brother in the land. Supposed to be a teen fiction but it's scary stuff about young people surviving a nuclear holocaust.
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