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The two most famous English dystopian novels — Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World and George Orwell’s 1984 — battle like Kong and Godzilla in classrooms and in the popular imagination. Both offer nightmarish visions of societies permanently stratified. It is the blueprint for most of our collective fears about the future going in the wrong direction.

In more recent young adult hit series such as The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins and Divergent by Veronica Roth, people are divided by districts or sorted according to aptitudes. In The Parable of the Sower, the award-winning 1993 speculative fiction classic by Octavia E. Butler, we meet our protagonist in the year 2024 (let the closeness of that sink in) when society is crumbling into chaos as extreme wealth inequality and corporate greed reach their zenith. By the year 2027, indentured servitude has returned to America, eviscerating the farce that collectively humankind can only “progress” rather than “regress”.

All these fictional visions of the future are inspired by real events of the past. War, genocide, colonisation and slavery are all here in our... see more