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Best dystopian novels: Sebastian de Souza looks to a scary fictional future

The best dystopian novels are a warning for today. Normal People star Sebastian de Souza recommends five of the greatest.
Sebastian de Souza picks his favourite dystopian novels in this Big Issue video

With their frightening visions of the future, dystopian novels are one of the most cutting tools the writer has to attack the ills of current society. From science fiction to political satire, the most effective dystopias encourage us to stand up and fight for what we believe in – lest the speculative future becomes real.

Actor and writer Sebastian de Souza – who has previously captivated in Normal People, Skins and The Borgias – has just unleashed his own dark vision on us. His novel Kid: A History of the Future is set in 2060, when a series of deadly pandemics, devastating environmental disasters and a violent surge in cyber terrorism has driven most people to live in a virtual reality.

As part of his research, de Souza immersed himself in the writings of his predecessors. Here, he chooses the best dystopian novels everyone should read.

Top five dystopian novels, recommended by actor and writer Sebastian de Souza

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

This book is insanely relevant. It’s about a flu pandemic that wipes out something like 95 per cent of the world. It turns the idea of the dystopian novel on its head, presenting a discussion of whether the ‘before’ was better than the ‘after’, or the ‘after’ is actually better than the ‘before’.

The Parable of the Sower by Octavia E. Butler

This is a razor sharp, searing appraisal of our own power structures in the present day, but through the eyes of a 15-year-old African American girl in an imaginary world.

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

This book is just so much fun because it manages somehow to pull just about every single pop culture phenomenon from the 80s into this crazy virtual reality universe. It made me wonder: if everyone is existing in this amazingly detailed, vivid, beautiful world, what does the outside world look like?

Animal Farm by George Orwell

Orwell frames this commentary on Communism, amongst other lots of other things, through the lens of a farm and its animals, which is something anyone and everyone can understand and connect with – however young they are.

Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess

Three words. Absolutely. Effing. Crazy.

Kid: A History of the Future by Sebastian de Souza is out now (Offliner Press).