Call it society’s weirdest guilty pleasure, but lately it seems like there are more apocalyptic fantasies than those of the fairytale variety. From zombies to pandemics, tyrannical dictatorships to machine takeovers — and plenty of foreboding real world disasters to color in the cracks — there’s no shortage of dystopian futures to choose from. With Gary Shteyngart’s newest contribution to the genre, Super Sad True Love Story, out later this month, we got to thinking about the doomsday options we have to look forward to. So take control of humanity’s bleak horizon by figuring out which hellish future is best for you — because if there’s anything we’ve learned from dystopian literature, it’s that your preferences matter. Or, not.
What is the worst thing you’ve ever done?
A. Missed a day of work
B. If I told you that, I’d have to kill you
C. Asked a question
D. Used contraceptives
E. Stayed alive
Society should be governed by the rules of:
D. Mass weddings
You prefer getting the news from:
A. The next in command
B. I trust no one but myself (and sometimes not even myself)
C. Politically biased and/or government-censored periodicals
D. A pregnancy test
E. Anything beyond my own survival needs is irrelevant
What is your dream job?
A. Factory worker
C. What are dreams?
D. Baby-making machine
E. Wilderness expert
Rules are made to be:
E. There are no rules
What is the meaning of life?
C. Whatever I’m told it is
D. Making more life
E. There is no meaning
Which saying best summarizes your worldview:
A. Idle hands are the devil’s tools
B. Go West, young man
C. Ignorance is bliss
D. Go forth and multiply
E. The end is nigh
If you scored mostly A’s:
Individuality is an indulgence of the past. Man is a machine whose purpose is merely to work toward a greater good — or evil — unbeknownst to you. There is no such thing as free will, and pity the fool who makes the mistake of seeking it out. Embrace your irrelevance and expendability.
Recommended reading: Anthem (Ayn Rand), Neuromancer (William Gibson), Player Piano (Kurt Vonnegut), We (Yevgeny Zamyatin)
If you scored mostly B’s:
Stability and safety are the stuff of legend. The world is akin to the anarchic frontiers of the Wild West — but now with androids, hyper-violence, space travel, black markets, and increasingly destructive technology to boot. Don’t be a hero; hermits live longer.
Recommended reading: A Clockwork Orange (Anthony Burgess), Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (Philip K. Dick), Snow Crash (Neal Stephenson)
If you scored mostly C’s:
You know only what you are told — and anything beyond that is irrelevant, baseless, or downright toxic to your sheltered mind. An all-powerful government or private organization controls all information and activities, which means disobedience is pretty much a signed death wish.
Recommended reading: Nineteen Eighty-Four (George Orwell), Fahrenheit 451 (Ray Bradbury), The Giver (Lois Lowry)
If you scored mostly D’s:
Sex slaves, euthanization, genetic harvesting, baby vessels, and eugenics are all standard features of this progeny-dictated landscape. If you’re kept alive, don’t get comfortable — once a suitable offspring (or an entire brood of them) has been bred, you’re toast.
Recommended reading: The Handmaid’s Tale (Margaret Atwood), Logan’s Run (William F. Nolan and George Clayton Johnson), Brave New World (Aldous Huxley)
If you scored mostly E’s:
There’s nothing left except you, a deadened wasteland, perhaps a few other roguish survivors, and a fatalistic shadow of impending extinction. Whether from cataclysmic warfare, natural disaster, supernatural apocalypse, or religious Armageddon, this would be the time to abandon all hope.
Recommended reading: A Canticle for Leibowitz (Walter M. Miller, Jr.), I Am Legend (Richard Matheson), A Boy and His Dog (Harlan Ellison), The Road (Cormac McCarthy)