Guest post; Maddie’s book workshop.

picture source:

picture source:

Well, here it is.

You asked for a post by my daughter: and she has delighted in writing it. Here’s her take on three very distinct genres….

Hi, everyone! It’s Maddie Shrewsday here, and I am on the blog as a guest; I hope that by the end of this science fiction identifier, you’ll be able to tell distopian, Utopian, post- apocalyptic fiction apart. Hope you enjoy this!

1) Dystopian

I love this genre; it’s so depressing, but weirdly intriguing too. Dystopian is basically a bad future; but the world in still civilised, so there’s still a recognisable society. This has become really popular with teenagers, and young adults. And, I hear you say, which book is responsible for this?

The Hunger Games. And, in my opinion, this book is the best dystopian novel I’ve ever read. In this book (as half of you probably already know!) we meet Katniss, the sparky, clever, fierce, kick-butt girl, from the deprived community of District Twelve. Another book that really got Dystopian famous, and, really, gave it its name, is George Orwell’s 1984, in which Big Brother, the face on a T.V screen everywhere, and ‘the party’ try to eliminate all creativity and indipendence of Oceania, the future nation.

And, before we go, I simply have to mention Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World. A future where humans are bred for different purposes; some for cleaning, some for performing lowly tasks, others with slightly more developed mind. And this is the chilling part; no-one questions authority, becase they can’t. Their minds are developed specifically so that they can’t question authority. So everyone’s happy.



The very oposite of dystopian, and yet, with a few eerie parts; these are set in a perfect society, a perfect world. There aren’t that many of these books around, so I can’t really give you very many examples, but Erewhon is one; This is a weird genre, as it has so many sub-genres, which I could spend a whole blog-post on.


Picture from

Picture from

This is a very hard-to-read genre; fiction set after a cataclysmic event, for example, a nuclear war, or a cosmic phenomena. There is a very thin line between dystopian and post apocalyptic, but post apocalyptic is set after the end of the world, or ‘an apocalypse.’ Humanity is slowly grinding to a hault, and those few survivors of the apocalypse a scattered to the ends of the earth. On The Beach , by Nevil Shute, is post-apocalyptic, and it examines the dilemmas of a man whose family are dying, and who knows that the entire of humanity will be dead soon. Also, The last American, a story of a man who is the last human inhabiting North America, is probably one of the hardest  novels to read. The City of Ember, too- a city underground, as a refuge for humanity, who are slowly running out of electricity, and are soon forced out into the open, after a nuclear war 200 years before. Less heavy, but still very poigniant

I wouldn’t recommened this if you don’t like heavy books, as this is a haunting genre. Not for the faint hearted, not for young readers!

4) Magitek

This is my favourite science-fiction genre- a bit of a wild card, to take your mind off the depressing dystopian novels, and post apocalyptic. This is a mix of science and magic; a fusion of magic and technology. Terry Pratchett’s hilarious Discworld series is a perfect example; Also, my favourite film, The Fifth Element is Magitek, in which ‘the perfect being’ has to be reconstructed from a DNA sample, to save the world from approaching doom…..

So, that was Maddie’s science fiction workshop.Thanks for reading!


47 thoughts on “Guest post; Maddie’s book workshop.

  1. An excellent breakdown! I’m impressed by your reading range.

    Have you read Sir Thomas More’s ‘Utopia’? He started that genre, I suppose (if we exclude the Bible). It is rather dull, if I’m honest. I love dystopian fiction; including ‘The Hunger Games.’

    A post-apocalyptic novel you might enjoy is ‘Ender’s Game’. Set in a not-too distant future when Earth has been attacked by aliens and prepares for the next invasion, training children to be the generals of the future. I re-read it at least once a year.

    A great guest post, Maddie. I hope we hear from you again…or you might think about setting up your own blog, if Mum allows.

    1. Thankyou! I will look for ender’s game in the library….I’m kind of intriuged with Utopia, because I have never really read a utopian book before- anyway, thanks to this guest post, I ‘ve decided to set up my own blog, ‘my story forum.’ Hopefully I’ll be able to write lots more posts like these therre:-)

  2. Thanks Maddie, it is great to find younger enthuastists who have read the classic books as well as the modern.

    I think you may be ready for Fred Hoyle, a scientist who writes science fiction. Sometimes hard to get, so keep an eye out at the second hand bookshops

  3. Maddie, that was a fantastic lesson. I’ve had professors who couldn’t discuss genre so clearly. And I adore your examples, especially Brave New World. Huxley’s vision is chilling and under sung, at least over here.

  4. Well, Maddie, you have enlightened me tremendously, now I can safely crawl out if the bunker.
    Kate, you must be bursting with pride watching a writing phenom develop.

  5. Thanks for readily responding to that request for a guest post from Maddie, and what an excellent one too! I agree that there aren’t too many Utopias around these days (what does that tell us about the zeitgeist?) but loads of dystopias and post-apocalyptic scenarios.

    Great YA post-A novels include Philip Reeve’s Mortal Engines series (it also has a hint of steampunk thrown in); a classic one is Z for Zachariah, which I only got to read relatively recently. Dystopias seem to be a speciality of Philip K Dick (Do androids dream of electric sheep, the inspiration for Blade Runner, is perhaps the best known of these). But I’m sure, Maddie, you’ve already come across these.

    Now, Magitek, that’s not a term I’ve heard of before, so thanks for flagging that up! I’m sure I’ve read loads of those!

  6. Just a sensational young mind! Maddie, you are to be commended and I’m late so the others here have done it. Taken the words right out of my mouth. I’m a fan and you might ,as someone here has said, write your own blog. Good for Mum presenting you to the readers.

  7. I’ve struggled with explaining dystopian fiction, and here you are, doing it do perfection. Thank you, Maddie. You have done a wonderful job here with this guest post. I am amazed at your range of reading interests and understanding of the genre. Please know you have an admirer from the suburbs of Chicago, Illinois, which your mom already knows.

    There seems to be a great deal of interest in these types of books here in the States as well, especially dystopian. Television series are also prevalent. When I go past the YA section of the library, there are often such books displayed, often newly printed. I wonder what it is about this genre that attracts readers in your age group so much.

    1. I know this seems weird, but….over here, in England, my mom told me that they did some research on it. Apparently, the hunger games has stirred up real interest- I like Dstopian ( I say ‘like’- I am interested in Dystopian) but I can’t read them one after another. The infinite possibilities of unfortunate futures would boggle one’s mind:-)

  8. Loved this post! Well done, Maddie. I’ve heard these various terms when describing fiction, but I can’t say I really differentiated them. Now I do. 🙂

  9. Great post, Maddie! I’ve read some dystopian (Brave New World, 1984) but nothing post-Apocalyptic. Given your review of the genres, I see no reason to branch into P-A SciFi ~ I’m too YOUNG (at heart). :mrgreen:

  10. Thanks, Maddie, for clarifying the distinction between dystopian and post-apocalyptic. I tend to conflate the two and in the future will try to be more precise.

    1. Thanks:-) What you said about Dystopian and post apocalyptic confusion- there is a very thin line, and there are some books (E.G; City of Ember) that are both Dystopian, but also post-apocalyptic. Maybe the latter is a sub-genre of the former.

  11. Thanks for your post, Maddie. I am familiar with the dystopian genre, and a bit of post-apocalyptic, but haven’t had much experience with utopian novels. You mentioned in the post that it was a weird genre, had a lot of sub-genres, and that you could do another blog post on those. How about it? I’m ready for more of your posts.

  12. Great post which, on seeing the cover of “On the Beach”, took me back to my teens – which is a long journey. Heavy was good then as I very much enjoyed being depressed however I have now had enough of that good thing.I’m impressed that your face is on the post, as your mother only normally photographs dogs’ bums or the back of peoples’ heads. You’ve broken new ground.

    1. Oh, no, unfortunately that’s not me! That’s a picture of the actress who played Katniss Everdeen in the hunger games. Though I’d love to look like that; I should have put up a note at the bottom of the picture, explaining who it was:-)

  13. Makes me think of John Wyndham. I have only read three of his books, but they were all great. The Day of the Triffids, The Chrysalids and The Midwich Cuckoos. They would fit into the post-apocalyptic category.

    I see the BBC One had a series on The Day of the Triffids.

    1. Yes! Don’t tell mum, but I listened to ‘the midwitch cuckoos’ and ‘day of the triffids’ on radio four. I loved them both- but the midwitch cockoos really interested me. Children who think with one mind. ooer(-:

  14. Hi Maddie! I always love to read your posts. How are the owls? Are you still singing? I hope to get to meet you and Felix in person someday. Thanks for this informative post.

  15. That really helps – I have read all these books and didn’t know that there was a genre called dystopia. My grand-daughters introduced me to Hunger Games. and I have just watched Jennifer Lawrence in Silver Linings and it had reminded me of seeing her as Katniss – then you create this great post! thanks

  16. Maddie, I think this is such a thorough and well-written explanation. I have wondered about the differences for a long time, and on my own I don’t think I could have figured it out. I really appreciate the references to “On the Beach,” Orwell’s “1984” and Huxley’s “Brave New World.” Since those books are familiar to me I am now able to make the connection. I haven’t read “Hunger Games” and haven’t really seriously considered prioritizing the trilogy, but reading your post brought back to me how much I enjoyed the dystopian genre as a much younger person–although I didn’t know the term–and I think I’d like to revisit the feeling in a current popular novel. I am so glad you shared. You have a lovely writing style, and I hope you might pop back from time to time to give us a young person’s viewpoint. I enjoyed this immensely!

  17. Well done, Maddie. I agree with you on “The Hunger Games.” Our 7th grade classes read this last year. Even students who were not into reading loved this book. I’m not a fan of dystopian literature as it is a depressing genre, but I loved this book, too. I haven’t read any post-apocalyptic literature, but I did see “On the Beach.”

    Very enjoyable analysis.

  18. That was very informative. I shall now sound far more clever when talking to Dave and Alex about the books they read!

  19. Excellent descriptions of each style and good examples. I’m pleased to see Nevil Shute’s On The Beach getting a mention. I really like his novel Round The Bend which deals with the subjects of religious and racial intolerance through government. Perhaps you might enjoy that one as a change from the Dystopian – but if you don’t I’ll understand 🙂

    Brave New World and 1984 were both on the reading list when I was at school some 40 years ago – some things don’t change do they 😉

  20. Well, Maddie, I have been well and truly educated. I had no idea of the names of the genres when I was young – but perhaps the name “genre” hadn’t been invented 60 years ago!

  21. Maddie, I feel so enlightened. This post is evidence that the apple doesn’t fall very far from the tree. Like your mother, you have a wonderful way with words. Instead of making the descriptions of each genre muddled — something that could be very easy to do as I reflect on the many drones that taught me in high school, you’ve explained each one quite clearly. Thanks for the bonus genre, magitek. Now I feel like viewing The Fifth Element.

  22. Such a concise and lucid explanation! But for that tiny ‘eek’, this could easily have been written by a Phd scholar as mentioned above 🙂 Great Job Maddie! And good luck with the new blog 🙂

  23. Maddie, you’ve taught me something here. I blame my English teacher, and she’s the reason I write now!!! I have a funny feeling I’ll be reading your stuff in the near future.

  24. You not only explicate three interesting genres to our modern day way of viewing this quirky, goofy and surreal world we live in, your choices exemplify why we should read or re-read the ones you mentioned. Genre aside, most of the titles listed should be seen as artistically imaginative -1984 absolutely, ‘the Fifth Element’ positively.

    I tend to lean towards Magitek as well. Perhaps that blending in of magic in the end allows for optimism. An optimism appeals to the young and to a fossil as I.

    Arriving late has allowed me to read the comments of others. It would appear you have captured an audience; hook, line and sinker. Good shtufffs, you! Thank you.

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