‘The Last,’ by Hanna Jameson

Novel, 2019 Post-apocalyptic story of twenty survivors of nuclear war, holed up in a Swiss hotel, and central character’s pursuit of the killer of a child discovered in the water tanks up on the roof. While this is a lively read for much of the time, the pace and actions going on can leave the inattentive reader working out the different characters as they go … Continue reading ‘The Last,’ by Hanna Jameson

‘They Live,’ directed by John Carpenter

Movie, 1988 One of those full-bloodied action films, where the excuse of the machismo being ‘of its time’ partly but doesn’t wholly expunge the embarrassment of some, and particularly the longer buddy punch-up scene. And yet, ‘They Live’ offers plenty of invention and wit in the way things are set up at the beginning of the film. Things are believable and persuasive and the dystopia … Continue reading ‘They Live,’ directed by John Carpenter

‘The Windup Girl,’ by Paolo Bacigalupi

Novel, 2009 Science-fiction dystopia, with some great ideas and scenes set around the precarious management and incipient crash of ecosystems and food chains, but one whose cast of characters, intrigues, adventures and interventions immediately dazzle, then quickly confuse the reader. This may be a book suited to the hardwired genre reader adept to retaining a good deal of information about myriad characters and situations, but … Continue reading ‘The Windup Girl,’ by Paolo Bacigalupi

“The Migration,” by Helen Marshall

Novel, 2019 Apocalyptic story anticipating the end but also the beginning of days, from the point of view of a young adult, changing and transitioning, from living in Canada to moving to the UK, from passing from childhood into adulthood, and in a life whose relationships and circumstances mirror the ecological turmoil around her. This is a story told crisply and one which refers back … Continue reading “The Migration,” by Helen Marshall

“Make Room! Make Room!” by Harry Harrison

Novel, 1966 Dystopian New York novel set in 1999, in which the unchecked population has led to a starved planet struggling and largely failing to feed itself on scraps and ersatz food produced. There is a vaguely didactic feeling to the book, but also a pace and energy, helped along by noirish elements and nods including a murder, high level corruption and an idealised romance, … Continue reading “Make Room! Make Room!” by Harry Harrison

“Fugue for a Darkening Island”, by Christopher Priest

Novel, 1972 A hugely problematic book, where a story of survival and the destruction of the narrator’s family and way of life is set against a backdrop of racial unrest. This is a post-apocalyptic world in which cosy communities just don’t exist like they do in similar novels, and where Africans solely exist in barbaric, largely de-humanised militias, with a back story very quickly dropped … Continue reading “Fugue for a Darkening Island”, by Christopher Priest

“Bird Box”, directed by Susanne Bier

Movie, 2018 Horror about a global infection which induces suicide and decimates civilisation. A gripping film which draws the viewer in, even though many of its set ups, tropes and twists are almost laughably predictable. Maybe mixing powerful scenes within a well-trodden narrative was intentional. I imagine my slight reservations about the obvious plot are informed around having seen many similar narratives. Besides, the effective … Continue reading “Bird Box”, directed by Susanne Bier

"THX 1138", directed by George Lucas

Movie, 1971 Brutal, good looking dystopia from a student film re-shot by Lucas, covering similar ground to “1984”, though doing so by stripping even humanity out of the nightmare world he’s created. What this gives us is a film it’s hard to engage with or immerse in, which isn’t helped by the slow narrative pushing along a rather opaque, threadbare script. Undeniably a visual stunner … Continue reading "THX 1138", directed by George Lucas

"One", by David Karp

Novel, 1953A solid, powerful novel with a hugely Cold War feel, centring around a minor official and state informer who’s called to talk over a report he’s written. In looking at the fragility of the individual and the individual’s place in society, this book tells an effective story. Yes, the settings and action feel claustrophobic, but this adds to the overall atmosphere of estrangement and … Continue reading "One", by David Karp

"High Rise", directed Ben Wheatley

Movie, 2015 If setting this dystopian drama in the 1970s is slightly puzzling, then it’s a detail in a film which builds effectively before snapping and ratcheting the tension and the incidents. By no means a comfortable watch, this is a blatant and not-so-subtle piece, but one which really gets its hooks in and lays on an effective moral story. Some comic moments and some … Continue reading "High Rise", directed Ben Wheatley