The first anti-utopian novel ever written, We is a satire on life in a dystopian future society called One State. People are ruled by the Benefactor and policed by the Guardians. They conform to supremely rational, precise rules that govern every aspect of their personal lives—from having numbers rather than names to living in glass buildings that enable mass surveillance. D-503, a mathematician, finds himself deviating from prescribed norms after meeting I-330, a woman involved in a secret plan to destroy the One State. After We was banned by the Soviets in 1921 it was published for the first time in English in 1924. The forerunner of such canonical works as 1984 and Brave New World, We is as urgent and relevant today as it was a hundred years ago.
E. M. Forster’s short story “The Machine Stops” takes place in a future where humans have lost the ability to live on the surface of the earth. Individuals live underground and rely entirely on an omnipotent, global Machine for all bodily and spiritual needs. A heretic who is punished for his deviant behavior nonetheless insists that the Machine, which humans have come to worship, shows ominous signs of breaking down.
Yevgeny Zamyatin (1884–1937) was a Russian author of science fiction and political satire and one of the first Soviet dissidents. He also translated work by writers such as H. G. Wells and Jack London. After his novel appeared in the West he was blacklisted from publishing in the Soviet Union and, in 1931, he was exiled to Paris where he died in poverty. We was not published in Zamyatin’s home country until 1988.
E. M. Forster (1879–1970) was an English writer best known for novels that scrutinize class difference and hypocrisy, including A Room with a View, Howards End, and A Passage to India. Many of his short stories dealt with science fiction or supernatural themes and are collected in The Celestial Omnibus and The Eternal Moment.
“The best single work of science fiction yet written.”
—Ursula K. Le Guin
“Superior to Huxley’s [Brave New World].”
Price: $12.95 (paperback) | $8.99 (ebook)
Book dimensions: 5.5 x .55 x 8.5 in
Published: October 12, 2021