5 dystopian short-stories for black mirror fans

We have all seen the fifth season of black mirror. You can read a review here. Black mirror specializes in showing the satire, dystopian setting and, dark side of technological advancements to a point of dystopia. Many science fiction writers love this topic.

Choosing just five stories among the countless works I have read proved to be a difficult task.

Click on the title of the stories to read them!

1. Harrison Bergeron – Kurt Vonnegut

A depiction of the system laid down in Vonnegut's story.

I am a huge fan of Vonnegut’s sci-fi works. Each of his stories twists the readers. By clever use of satire, well placed ironical remarks and complex characters, he truly brings out the intent he writes the story with.

Coming to Harrison Bergeron, people know him for his novels, but this is a true masterpiece in dystopian fiction. Vonnegut uses the date  2081, a time when the government implements equality on every standard. The story doesn’t live true to the dystopian theme at the start. But that is what Vonnegut intends, to make us think this world is better than our current one, he compounds this with the narrator who believes in the system.

No one is prettier, smarter or in any way better than anyone in this world carried out through handicaps planted to palliate specific advantages respectively for every individual.

George Bergeron is very intelligent and thus carries a mental handicap radio which limits his use of thinking. While his wife Hazel is in every way average. The story is about their son Harrison, who gets taken away for being exceptional at everything he does.

The concept of eternal recurrence and abuse of control fills the Vonnegut’s dystopia.

‘Everyone is born equal, perhaps they should die equal too’

2. Amaryllis– Carrie Vaughn

Amaryllis- Carrie Vaughn cover photo showing the dystopian world.

I read this story during the most boring lecture of my college day. Amaryllis is a gentle story with a dark premise. The story starts in a world strictly controlled by quotas. They keep both resources and population to a minimum so as not to finish up the left out sustain.

Mary, a child that shouldn’t have been born, despised by people around her. She is the captain of the fishing ship Amaryllis. Vaughn gets into describe the unfairness of a world ruled by quotas. But doesn’t really show the implementation as a beneficiary to the world.

So this story more than dystopian comes out as an inevitability. We are already seeing impact on the planet. Climate change is going downhill. Vaughn does not pursue this further; Even though the writing is beautiful, I believe the true impact of the whole topic remains untouched.

Any totalitarian government is terrifying and rightfully so. But Vaughn’s world let me hope for a better one. We should hope for the future rather than fear it. That is what I learnt from the creative Amaryllis.

3. Janitor on Mars– Martin Amis

Heavy water with Jupiter on Mars, dytopian short story.

It is 2049. We get a signal from Mars from the lone survivor of an old civilization. He calls himself janitor. A robot with the principles and construct of the whole universe in his hard drive. The programming of the robot specifies that he only reveals himself if we pushed Earth to the point of no return. But there is no running away from the impending doom as we will get crushed by an asteroid, the size of Greenland in twenty years anyway.

There is another janitor in the story though, Pop Jones who works at the last independent British orphanage. Tommy a boy at the orphanage gets raped.

Our Pop Jones figures out the rape to be the work of the principal and while this is happening, the government gets an ultimatum by the janitor on mars.

The juxtaposition between the end of the world and the personal drama conveyed through the janitors in this dystopian world is amazing.

4. Welcome to the Monkey House– Kurt Vonnegut

Welcome to the monkey house dystopian cover for the short story.

Yes, it’s Vonnegut again! There is just something about his stories; they speak to me on a different level. Monkey house dystopian world is ravaged by overpopulation. The government, thus as an extreme measure, has taken away the pleasure derived from sex. Isn’t that a bummer?

Also, there are Ethical Suicide Centers, where beautiful virgin hostesses use syringes to peacefully kill suicide volunteers. It’s a gruesome world.

The story follows a hostess Nancy as she gets kidnapped by Billy the Poet, a ‘nothinghead’ who can feel the pleasure of sex. As her world crumbles, so do her ideas about sex, world and importantly herself.

Vonnegut fills his terrifying world with absurdist humour. The story’s voice of reason changes continuously. Oh black mirror fans, this is the perfect story for you guys. The taking away of the most natural desires of human replaced by a tendency and need to commit untimely suicide.

Welcome to the monkey house justifies its name quite a few times.

5. Escape from Spiderhead – Geogre Saunders

ESCAPE from Spiderhead, a dystopian short story cover.,

GUYS! I kept the most fucked up for the last. Spider-fucking-head has ruined my ability to trust in my decisions. It is a story where a person’s strength of limits is put to the test. These limits are emotional, moral as well as physical. The story forces the reader to ask themselves two questions.

These are “at what point does an innate sense of empathy override the commanding influence of the body’s chemical composition” and “at what point is a man driven to go so far as to kill himself to protect the well-being of another innocent human.”

The underlying theme is the search for humanity. What makes us human? In particular, at what point does fulfil our nature as a sentient being override the desire to satisfy our superiors and the scientific progress they intend to create. “Escape from Spiderhead” argues that we as humans are innately empathetic and are against inflicting pain and discomfort on another innocent human.

The dystopian story is a first-person narrative told by a man named Jeff, a convict in an alternative prison system where scientific experiments are conducted in attempts to confirm the effects of various serums with mind-altering capabilities.

The contrasting views between good and bad to the use of humans as guinea pigs. By creating this clash between the good and bad, Saunders can show who the winner is. Here, it is arguably the “good” who prevails. But it is important to recognize here who or what “good” exactly is. Jeff is a convicted killer. Abnesti is a progressive scientist on the edge of a miraculous breakthrough. Basic character definitions like these do not suffice when searching for the “good” because the “good” lies not in the appearance of these men, but in those qualities and actions that relate to their humanity.

I hope you guys like my first post in a lot more to come! Read more about my venture here.

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