The Years of Rice and Salt is an alternative history novel published in 2002. Its working title was A World Without Europe. It explores the shape the world would have taken if 99% of the European population had been wiped out by the 14th Century Black Plague. It follows 700 years of human toil and development unto a time where world civilization is one step ahead of our own. Through monologues, discussions between characters and parallels with our world, the novel explores the way history is made and discusses ideas on the evolution of history and the purpose of civilization (if any).
Antarctica is Robinson's first novel published after the success of the Mars trilogy. However, because of the similarity in the themes of both works, Antarctica has been called "White Mars" by some. Antarctica describes the small Antarctic society and their struggle to keep Antarctica safe from the potential exploitation of its fossil fuel resources.
Thomas Ligotti is one of the greatest living authors of the Weird Tale. His take on the genre dominated by the right wing conservative HP Lovecraft takes a different approach. Referred to as "Corporate Horror" by some his more recent tales focus on the mind numbing horror of work in a capitalist society. Whilst never explicitly anti-capitalist, or even political, the horror here, whilst drenched in the supernatural, is found in the familiar. The familiar viewed from a slightly odd perspective, true, but familiar all the same.
“When I first took this job at the factory it was not my intention to work there very long, for I once possessed higher hopes for my life, although the exact nature of these hopes remained rather vague in my youthful mind.
The Mars trilogy is a series of award-winning science fiction novels by Kim Stanley Robinson that chronicles the settlement and terraforming of the planet Mars through the intensely personal and detailed viewpoints of a wide variety of characters spanning almost two centuries. Ultimately more utopian than dystopian, the story focuses on egalitarian, sociological, and scientific advances made on Mars, while Earth suffers from overpopulation and ecological disaster.
1976 novel by Fredy Perlman, written as fictional letters between two Eastern European workers, Yarostan Vochek and Sophie Nachalo, who are separated after a failed revolution. Yarostan spends twelve years in statist jails, while Sophie escapes to the West. After twenty years without contact, they begin to write each other about their experiences, their lives, their hopes, and their memories of the past.
Yarostan’s first letter
Robert Kurz discusses the “implicit” “subtexts” of the great dystopian literature of the 20th century and reveals the “internalized constraints” of “the anonymous, ‘reified’ character of [the] totalitarianism” of our time, in which “the Voice of Big Brother is the voice of the Anonymous World Market”, the “most totalitarian of all systems”, and “the subjective command centers are … the executive organs of an autonomized mechanism” ruled by “the irrational end-in-itself of the ‘interminable valorization of value’” whose “ideal is the self-surveillance and self-control of the individual entrepreneur ‘by way of his capitalist superego’”.
Parables of Big Brother – Robert Kurz