I'm not sure why I'm on a fiction kick, but I have been reading a lot of it since Thanksgiving. If you've got a hankerin' to read about what the future may hold (and not in a shiny v-neck jump suit way), then have I got a Library of Congress Subject Heading for you. Fire up your favorite library catalog and do a subject search for "Regression (Civilization) — Fiction". While you're doing that, I will share with you a couple of my recent reads.
The Road by Cormac McCarthy appeared on a number of best book lists for 2006. The story follows the journey of a man and his son as they travel from the north to the south following a nuclear attack on the US. The characters struggle in a world that has been burnt to the ground. Every page has a reference to ash or smoke and the father and son are constantly starving or on the lookout for potable water. However, McCarthy does include some positive imagery on the journey.
Most of the scenes McCarthy created are disturbing (cannibalism or skeletal remains melted into asphalt). I was impressed by his ability to create this vivid images while using so few words. I wasn't a fan of the ending, but you'll have to read it for yourself and see if you like it.
I discovered The Book of Dave: A Revelation of the Recent Past and the Distant Future by Will Self while browsing the new book shelf at my local public library. I hadn't read Self before, but I remember covers from some of his earlier works. I enjoyed getting lost in Self's future version of the United Kingdom. The book chapters alternate between the future and the recent past, which makes it an interesting read. The chapters set in the future follow a young man who challenges the accepted faith of the country. The chapters set in the recent past show how current events can be radically misunderstood 500 years in the future.
The most challenging aspect of reading Self's book is his use of Arpee, a written form of Cockney English mixed in with a bunch of neologisms. Self includes an Arpee-English glossary. Another challenge is the constant reference to present day landmarks of greater London. I had to rely on Wikipedia and MapQuest to get a mental image of London for parts of the book to make sense.