Multcolib Picks: If you like Elysium
Annotation:In the film Elysium, the planet Earth is a de facto prison for masses of oppressed people. Celda 211 is more brutal than Elysium, but this prison film from Spain has a keen social conscience. Described as “a white-hot prison drama with a Byzantine plot and enough gore to make Reservoir Dogs look like a petting zoo” by The Globe and Mail.
Annotation:No list of left-leaning sci fi entertainment would be complete without at least one China Miéville novel. While none of this author’s inventive, heart-stoppingly well-written, varied novels are ringers for Elysium, his King Rat features a young male protagonist faced with harrowing danger.
Annotation:Ti-Jeanne lives in the Burn, the ravaged, lawless remains of Toronto. She and the other inhabitants have been abandoned, and are effectively imprisoned, by all who had enough influence to follow corporate powers out. To save her child and her ex-lover Tony, she must draw on her Afro-Caribbean spirit heritage in this fantasy dystopia.
Annotation:A favorite of sci fi fans with political sensibilities, Scottish author Ken Macleod offers smart, fast-moving fiction infused with socialist, utopian, dystopian, anarchist, and Trotskyist ideas. One particularly cool device in this series is Moh Kohn’s artificially intelligent Gun.
Annotation:“A blend of Scum and Papillon set on a snowy Norwegian island, this is based on a true story. Brutally run by Stellan Skarsgård's Bestyreren, Bastoy, a school for ‘maladjusted young boys’, has all the familiar cruelties – abuse, lice inspections, solitary confinement and a diet of raw fishheads. But when the hulking Erling arrives, the boys have a new hero and one senses rebellion might not be far off.” — guardian.co.uk.
Annotation:California, like the rest of the world, is in jobless, violent chaos in this novel by MacArthur Genius Award winner Octavia Butler. A young Black woman whose home is in a walled community near Los Angeles is forced to flee. Lauren Olamina utilizes the example of her Baptist minister father, creating her own religion, Earthseed.
Annotation:When corrupt politicians wall in the inhabitants of “Banlieue 13,” zany drug lords rise to power. Buff, confident Leïto resists the degradation of his ‘hood, refusing to bow to the criminals. A more upbeat dystopia set in Paris, and echoing the real-life situation of immigrants living in Parisian slums. Leïto, played by Parkour founder David Belle, out-Parkours all comers, but has a vulnerability.
Annotation:If you enjoy action and politics, here’s another fast-moving movie with a message and an A-list cast. “‘Equilibrium’ would be a mindless action picture, except that it has a mind. It doesn't do a lot of deep thinking, but unlike many futuristic combos of sf and f/x, it does make a statement: Freedom of opinion is a threat to totalitarian systems." - Roger Ebert
Annotation:Wagner Moura of Elysium fame plays a special ops squad commander in this movie full of prison and gang violence and sociopolitical rage. “There is a deep sense of indignation at the core of The Enemy Within, a righteous fury that pelts every cog of ‘the system’ like machine-gun fire.” - The Miami Herald
Annotation:Matt Damon plays Max, an oppressed L.A. underdog in a future U.S. where the social contract is less than a memory, and the elites have departed planetary hell for a paradisiacal space station, in this intense action film. The cast spans the Americas, featuring Brazilian actors Alice Braga and Wagner Moura, and Mexican actor Diego Luna.
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Elysium delivers high octane action; multicultural identities of North and Latin America; and a protest against corruption, injustice, poverty and oppression, all made more watchable with a love interest and an unintentional cyber hero. Here are books and movies that share dystopian imaginings, rage against the machine, and Anglo and Latin cultures and characters. - Izetta I.