Remember When(sdays)

It’s been a little while since the last Remember When post, and this week I am not quite ready to dive back in for our next decade. Instead I wanted to take us off the path and highlight a list of dystopian and post-apocalyptic societies that were on the page as well as on the screen.

Note – (not really all that surprising) Phillip K. Dick (PKD from here on out) absolutely OWNS the dystopian future genre.

And with that here is my list of apocalypse fiction for your consideration:

“Blade Runner” (1982) is a cult classic. And it’s (loosely) adapted from PKD’s short story “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep” (1968). PKD got an early viewing of what Ridley Scott had for the film before he died and was very pleased that Scott captured his own vision of how the world should look. (And of course the sequel, “Blade Runner 2049” is out there now – while it’s on my must watch list, I haven’t quite gotten there yet).

“1984” (1984) Released the same year as the title may have seemed like a clever idea, the events of the novel Nineteen Eighty-Four occur the same year, reducing some of the concern, at least at that time. Now it’s heralded as a prophetic novel (although it’s often debated that A Brave New World is a little more on point with what the future actually turned into).

“The Running Man” (1987) – the movie based on Stephen King’s The Running Man (1982 as Richard Bachman) starred Arnold Schwarzenegger during his pumped up leading muscle man prime.

“Total Recall” (1990) The original with Arnold Scwarzenegger, not the remake in 2012 with Colin Farrell. Seems like the T-800 from “Terminator” landed comfortably into the dystopian future. PKD’s 1966 short story “We Can Remember It for You Wholesale” inspired this one.

“A Brave New World” (1998) is the film adapted from Aldous Huxley’s 1931 novel, which is often mentioned in the same sentence (if not the same breath) as Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four. 

“Minority Report” (2002) – I did mention PKD is insanely all over the dystopian landscape, right? His 1956 short story was used for the basis of this Tom Cruise movie about thought police, strange times we live in where this idea seems more real than it did a couple of decades ago.

“A Scanner Darkly” (2006) brings Keanu Reeves back in a very life-like animated movie (the strange animation actually creates the sensation of questioning what is actually real, something I think PKD would strongly approve for his 1977 novel of the same name).

“I Am Omega” (1962) / “I am Omega” (2007) / “I am Legend” (2007) – all three of these movies are inspired by Richard Matheson’s 1954 I Am Legend about a plague that turns the infected into zombie or vampire-like creatures.

“Fahrenheit 451” (2018) for the writerly and readerly types is a true dystopian horror with outlawing and burning books adapted from Ray Bradbury’s 1953 novel. It’s eerie how much Bradbury predicts about how he saw future technology and society, luckily so far my books are safely on their shelves, not alight in the street.

And of course the honorable mentions – “Soylent Green” was a book first, Harry Harrison’s title wasn’t quite as catchy though, Make Room! Make Room!, Franz Kafka’s existential novel The Trial was on screen in 1962, “Planet of the Apes” was adapted from the french novel Le Planete des singes by Pierre Boulle, and of course it would be remiss of me to overlook “A Clockwork Orange”, the Divergent series, or Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games series (which is very reminiscent of The Running Man, but if you haven’t read both please do and let me know what you think).


Remember When(sdays)

How many books from the last decade have you read? Or are you like me and maybe have a floor to ceiling to be read pile?

Remember when in 2010 …

The Mayan Calendar ended, and the world didn’t (at least I don’t think it did), social media became a huge deal, and nostalgia lead to a LOT of remakes and reboots …

2010: Tweets managed to get published as a book in Sh*t My Dad Says by Justin Halpern – and if I remember correctly the brief lived t.v. show starred William Shatner as the dad who said sh*t.

2011: Stephen King’s 11/22/63 was a pretty amazing book, and show – I’m a sucker for time travel, and all of its variations, but this one tops my favorite time travel books lists (well, number 2 behind Outlander).

2012: John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars has been a phenomenal hit – I’ve also heard great things about the movie, and it introduced a new round of pretty heart felt YA novels out into the world. A shining piece of nonfiction came out this year too – I Am Mulala: The Story of the Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban by Mulala Yousafzai – if you haven’t read it, I strongly recommend it.

2013: The Ocean at the End of the Lane Neil Gaiman. ‘Nuff Said. Okay, you convinced me, I’ll gush some more. This book is a shorter read, but hands down deserves every award ever. It’s definitely near the top 10 all time favorite books list I maybe will get around to putting together officially someday. (Hard to settle on 10 – it might become a much longer list).

2014: I’ve maybe mentioned my love of Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series? The 8th installment, Written in my Own Heart’s Blood was published after a bit of a wait, and man was it worth it.

2015: JoJo Moyes had me crying again with Me After You, and I won’t spoil it, but I can appreciate that she was pretty raw in how she handled her protagonist from the first book – sometimes we need real emotions, even if it makes them spill out of our eyes for days.

2016: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, John Tiffany wrote this one, and it’s considered part of the series – definitely an interesting read, although I go back and forth on how I feel about it as part of the series proper, but don’t let that take away from checking it out.

2017: The last Kinsey Millhone book effectively ended that alphabet with ‘Y’ after Sue Grafton’s battle with cancer ended later that year. Y is for Yesterday seems appropriate – if you haven’t had a chance to get to know Sue Grafton’s spunky character, please do, I think you’ll really enjoy her.

2018: I have a large blank in my books from this year – not sure what happened, but on the bright side I have quite a few new novels to dig into … although I have to be careful to not neglect any good ones coming out this year in the process.

2019: The Forgotten Hours by Katrin Schumann was a really good book, but a really hard read. It was a journey of discovery for the protagonist, but for me as well. I do recommend it, but disclaimer – it has some rather difficult topics and themes.

Honorable Mentions: Stephen King’s Full Dark, No Stars and they weren’t kidding about the full dark, pretty sure we all had to do some serious palate cleansers after this one. Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children was published in 2011, the movie was good – but nothing can ever top a really well loved book series (it got the kiddos to read like there was no tomorrow too, thanks Ransom Riggs). Andy Weir’s The Martian – fantastic movie, but the book hits a lot of really amazingly fantastic science jargon, appropriately applied (or so I’ve heard from my more science-fluent friends, I just thought the story was great). Want to cry? JoJo Moyes Me Before You – worth every salt filled drop that landed on the book. Dave Eggers, The Circle is a highly recommended digital dystopian novel I am actually terrified is going to land in the 1984A Brave New World territory.

The 2010’s was by far the hardest decade because there are so many I haven’t gotten to yet, and quite a few more I have added to my to be read list as I’ve been digging into publisher dates. Now that we have gotten the decades down, what’s next? I’m compiling a list of my favorites, but I’m also diving into comic books and movie adaptations of books for the same time periods, looking forward to all of it, and if you have any lists that I’m not thinking about I’d love to consider those too.



Remember When(sdays)

What books do you think of when you think of the first decade of the 21st century (and the millennium)?

Remember when in 2000 ….

Dial up modems were a thing, the dotcom bubble burst, and everyone panicked about Y2k?

2000: One of the most touted books on the craft of writing, On Writing, by Stephen King is published (he was working on this one when he was hit by a van the summer before).

2001: Easily on my top 10 list, Neil Gaiman’s American Gods, (a television show on Starz now). Neil discovered a side of America that perhaps we needed the year this novel was published, a reminder of things when the year took a turn.

2002: A Stephen King anthology, Everything’s Eventual, gets published, one story in particular “1408” gets turned into a movie with John Cusack (who doesn’t love John Cusack?).

2003: So many books in this year that hit a number of notes for me … The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger (and its movie adaptation that I highly recommend) – lots of tears, and if you tell me you read it and didn’t cry I don’t think we can be friends. The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown was a huge hit, and really put the character Robert Langdon on the map (Tom Hanks does pretty well on screen for this one).

2004: P.S. I Love You by Cecelia Ahern – a young writer when this one came out (22), but perhaps the Irish gift of the story found in her the powerful storyteller it needed with this one … another tear-jerker (I’ve found I have a hard time thinking about this story without becoming a little teary eyed … also, check out the movie adaptation, Girard Butler and Hilary Swank do an honorable job bringing these characters to the screen.

2005: J.K. Rowling’s 6th book, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince is published, the same year my first child was born – by this point I’ve become an avid Harry Potter fan, and reading certainly took the edge off the pregnancy.

2006: Sara Gruen wrote Water for Elephants during NaNoWriMo and published it in 2006 – not that I’m subscribing to the write a novel in a month theory, but it can be done, and done well (Also adapted into a film with Robert Pattinson and Reese Witherspoon). Also this year, World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War by Max Brooks – I do not consider the movie to be an adaptation of this novel, instead it merely borrows the title, the book is by far the superior story (and believe me, they are two totally different stories …).

2007: The sequel we didn’t know we were waiting for is published, Kingsbridge #2, World Without End by Ken Follett. No, I didn’t gain back any of those romantic notions that he did away with in the original novel, but I was pleased to see some of my favorite characters return, and a little frustrated to see some of my more hated characters also made it into this one unscathed. Oh well, they do say a good hero is made better by a particularly good villain.

2008: Suzanne Collin’s The Hunger Games, this one is particularly special to me because I read it, such a long time ago, and my oldest just read this one recently.  It created new conversations for us, and opened doors to new stories for him, thanks Suzanne! (We’re looking forward to binge watching the movies for this series too.)

2009: The Magicians by Lev Grossman has been referred to as the “grown up Harry Potter” series, and in a way I think that description seems apt – but it certainly does a fine job branching into its own thing, and building its own world. (I keep meaning to check out the show, but waiting for someone who’s read the books to tell me if they seem similar or no?).

Honorable mentions – Dan Brown’s Angels and Demons. Charlaine Harris wrote Dead Until Dark (the first Sookie Stackhouse novel, maybe more commonly remembered from the HBO show True Blood). James Patterson’s Women’s Murder Club #1, 1st to Die, came out, these women solving mysteries holds a very special place in my heart. Christopher Paolini publishes his first book Eragorn (in 2002, when I was graduating high school, and he was 19 – mind you he wrote the book at the tender age of 15 … what was envy when I was younger has turned into more of an admiration for the dedication that took, teen years are a hard time to stay focused on any one thing, amiright?). Mitch Albom’s The Five People You Meet in Heaven (I did a blog post review on this one, aaand there’s a sequel that came out last fall), and Dean Koontz’s Odd Thomas series kicks off (Anton Yelchin played a very endearing Odd in the movie). Stephanie Meyers Twilight series begins. Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files series should be noted – although I know it’s sparked some controversy here lately, it’s a fairly fun (if somewhat distracted romp), I think it mostly just gets confused about what it’s really trying to be when it grows up.

There are so many more books that I felt were just going to make this post feel more like a list than a personal “best of” that I couldn’t really list all of them, but let me know if any of your favorites didn’t make the cut, just in case I haven’t read them, I’m always looking for something new to sink my reader’s teeth into.

Remember When(sdays)

This week it’s all about my book picks from the 1990’s – what books do you think of when you think of the 90’s?

Remember when in 1990 …

It was the time of parachute pants, Vanilla Ice, and day glo everything everywhere.

1990: Dr. Seuss has melted hearts for generations, and one of the most purchased books for graduates is his Oh, the Places You’ll Go! was published in 1990 – interestingly enough I “graduated” kindergarten this year. Also – because I couldn’t pick just one book! – Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett’s collaborative novel Good Omens is published – and goes on to be the positively fantastic series a couple decades later.

1991: My favorite book of all time is published (this is a hard title to have, because I basically love every book ever, but hands down this one takes the cake). Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander, a novel that has pushed boundaries and refuses to fit into any box (neatly, or otherwise). This novel is read by men, women, doesn’t fit into a single genre, and has been made into a pretty awesome (so I’ve heard, still need to sit down and watch the whole thing) television series. Diana … so many thanks for putting this one into the world.

1992: Anne Rice regales us with The Tale of the Body Thief. Daniel Quinn introduces the world to Ishmael and we fall simultaneously in love with a gorilla, and out of love with humanity (ok, that’s a bit of an exaggeration – but this one definitely makes you think about more than what is comfortable – maybe don’t make this one the warm fuzzy book you snuggle up to before bed).

1993: The very first Chicken Soup for the Soul was introduced to the world this year – and Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen gave both readers and amateur writers something to look forward to, while opening the self-help book industry into something more than the how to be better – it showed real people living real inspirational messages. (Not gonna lie, these are a treat I enjoy flitting through when I just want to think positive.)

1994: Janet Evanovich’s spunky Stephanie Plum jumped off the pages in One for the Money, strangely making New Jersey seem … less New Jersey? I have to admit I’ve never been to Jersey outside of Newark International, but we’ve all heard of the Jersey Devil (among other … interesting … stories).

1995: I love Alice Hoffman. This author makes everything she touches magic … and it’s still incredibly believable. Practical Magic is what I can only describe as a realistic fairy tale (long before realistic fairy tales hit the height of their career). Sandra Bullock and Nicole Kidman were pretty great in the film version in 1998 as well.

1996: This is one of those years where I had a hard time making a choice. Helen Fielding published Bridget Jones’s Diary, and the world got a modern Mr. Darcy to drool over (thank you Colin Firth, for every faithful portrayal of every Mr. Darcy, we owe you a debt of gratitude). Chuck Palahniuk inspired (perhaps a little too well, in fact) his readers to eschew capitalism and look deeper into existential beliefs, Fight Club really made the public start to question – what is life really about? Where are we really going? And … why … just why? (And the film, those visuals really vaulted this one to cult classic ahead of its time). And last, but not least for 1996, George R. R. Martin introduced us all to A Game of Thrones, and the history buffs swooned at the re-imagining of the War of the Roses. The television show started pretty faithfully too – although I have to admit I was more of a die hard book fan, I let the shows fall to the wayside.

1997: The late 90’s are filled with books that have some kind of special note in my mental vault, but 1997 should be dedicated to Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. J. K. Rowling touched on a bit of magic with Harry – and regardless of similarities with other series, shows, characters of other decades, Harry holds a special place for all of us – because both Harry and his creator make us realize we all have something special if we just keep powering through.

1998: I borrowed a book from a classmate many many years ago that introduced me to my love of fantasy. Kristen Britain’s Green Rider is just a yes – magic, check. Blossoms into a larger series, check. Ghosts? Check. And the best part? Double checking on the publication dates gave me the best news ever – the series has grown since the last time I dipped my toe into that particular stream – I’m going to nerd out this weekend.

1999: Stephen Chbosky wrote The Perks of Being a Wallflower – this book is not for the faint of heart, and I made the mistake of diving into it the first time via audio book at my desk at work. Hard to pound out data entry and system security reviews while having your heart mangled through Charlie’s story. Not easy, but worth the effort.

Honorable mentions: Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events, Gregory Maguire’s Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West (and the musical it inspired), the teacher, Erin Gruwell’s collaborative project The Freedom Writer’s Diary (And the film – Hilary Swank does a marvelous job) are all books that should definitely be remembered. Any I missed that need a special shout out? I know, there are so many more, but which ones are special to you?

Next week? 2000’s get their turn at the pass, too.