20 October, 2014

Back to Future Books

Before the winner of the Man Booker Prize was announced this year, The Guardian released an interesting infographic on their Twitter feed showing when the previous winning novels were set. I think you should be able to see it here, whether or not you are on Twitter, but just in case, here are the stats in list form:

  • Set in the present: 16 winners
  • Set in a mixture of past and present: 10 winners
  • Set in the recent past: 9 winners
  • Set in the historical past: 12 winners
  • Set in the future: 0 winners
That's right - no Booker-winning novel has ever been set in the future. And, to be honest, I can't think of many good books that are set in the future. Can you? Within the last year or so I did read The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood, however, which is set in the not-too-distant future and, as with all her books, it was brilliant.

I think I associate the future with sci-fi - slick technology and metallic jumpsuits. That's not the sort of book I'm interested in. But - as The Handmaid's Tale proves - the future, and books set in it, might not be anything like that at all. In fact, I suppose one of my favourite books - 1984 - is set in the future (or it was when it was written) and is definitely not about some glorious age of adventure!

So my mission for the next six months is to read at least one book set in the future. Do you have any recommendations for me?


  1. Loved the Handmaids Tale.

    I actually enjoy a lot of YA Sci Fi (more Dystopian though) Maggot Moon and I did actually enjoy reading The Hunger Games (for market research initially :)

    I really enjoyed John Wyndhams The Crysallids - I think you would too! Great writing. And not 'hard' sci fi.

    1. Correction: "The Chrysalids"

    2. Oh I love John Wyndham! The Midwich Cuckoos is my favourite. I haven't read The Chrysalids, most of his are about weird futuristic things happening in the present - maybe I will check it out.

  2. JG Ballard wrote a lot of books set in the future. I've read 'The Drought' and 'The Drowned World', both of which I enjoyed. They're both post-apocalyptic, though, so whether they would count as science fiction is debatable. The same goes for Cormac McCarthy's 'The Road'.

    The middle two sections of 'Cloud Atlas' are set in the future (although, again, one of those is post-apocalyptic). Maybe that would be a good place to start - if you're concerned future-set fiction is all ray guns and technobabble, at least you'll be safe in the knowledge that the novel makes its way back in time to the 19th century again afterwards.

    Of course, the book I'm working on at the moment is set in the future. It has the technology, but no silver jumpsuits. I knew I'd missed something!

  3. I think I'd much prefer futuristic stories that AREN'T sci fi! Margaret Atwood regretted accepting a sci fi award for The Handmaid's Tale as it wasn't really. I like a bit of post-apocalypse - one of my favourite books is The Stand - have you read it?

    Pah! Silver is so last season. All about the gold jumpsuits now.

  4. That's interesting. I don't have any suggestions of what to read because I mostly read contemporary.

    I really need to read the Handmaid's Tale. I've heard so much about it.

    1. It's great. I hadn't read any of Margaret Atwood's stuff until last year. I've read a few now and she's one of the best authors I've come across. Brilliant writer.


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