From classic science-fiction to studies in psychology, the required reading list for diehard Colony fans runs an eclectic gamut. But trust us when we say that all of the titles below relate somehow to Carlton Cuse’s latest heart-pumping and thought-provoking series. Here are eight titles to add to your library.
1984 By George Orwell
What It Is: When Orwell penned his famed science-fiction novel in 1949, the setting of his new world order seemed far, far into the future. Imagine living under totalitarian rule, in which the slightest disregard for authority is punishable by death.
Why You Should Read It: In 1984, Winston Smith works in the Ministry of Truth, where he shapes history into lies, and lives under constant surveillance. Doesn’t sound all that different from Will, does it? When Winston meets up with a leader of the resistance party, he must confront the decision of whether or not to join and, while offenders in the Colony are sent to the Factory, criminals in 1984 go to the dreaded Room 101.
Discipline and Punish by Michel Foucault
What It Is: In his seminal work, the French philosopher Michel Foucault examined the effects of surveillance on society. He looked at a particular style of prison -- the panopticon, which allowed guards to observe all of the inmates from a central tower surrounded by a large wall.
Why You Should Read It: Heady stuff, to be sure -- Foucault’s work uncovers the phenomenon of panopticism, which is what happens to a society when they think they’re being watched at all times. Even though the prisoners never know exactly when the anonymous “eye in the sky” is on them, they have to always be on their best behavior. Similar to Colony, there is no interaction with those behind the surveillance, and the fear of punishment leads to a culture of self-discipline.
Nostromo By Joseph Conrad
What It Is: The fictitious country of Costaguana (thought to be based on turn-of-the-century Colombia) is fraught with a long history of tyranny and revolution. Exploring themes of moral ambiguity, duty, and imperialism, Nostromo is widely considered to be Conrad’s greatest novel.
Why You Should Read It: In addition to the relevant motifs mentioned above, Nostromo is especially important in Colony because within its pages are clues for the members of the Resistance (and the authorities who are trying to thwart them). In the big picture, Nostromo asks you to consider good versus bad -- which is something you think about again and again while watching Colony. (Sci-Fi bonus points: "Nostromo" is also the name of a spacecraft in Alien.)
The Lucifer Effect by Philip Zimbardo
What It Is: In a nonfiction account of his research findings, psychologist Dr. Zimbardo details the outcome of his Stanford Prison Experiment, in which a group of college students were randomly divided into “guards” and “inmates” and placed in a mock prison. Within a week, the experiment had to be abandoned because of how terribly the guards were treating the others.
Why You Should Read It: The thing about Zimbardo’s work that is so perplexing is how quickly otherwise-good people could turn to the dark side when put in a position of power. It makes you think that maybe some of our most threatening Redhats weren’t chosen because they were cruel and evil. Perhaps they were chosen randomly and then became bad because of the authority placed upon them.
Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
What It Is: Whenever a technological advance takes the place of a human function, you will hear someone utter “It’s a brave new world,” a nod to Huxley’s dystopian novel set 600 years in the future. In the era of A.F. (for "After Ford," as in after the rise of the assembly line) society lives under a dictatorship that controls everything from reproduction to psychology.
Why You Should Read It: In addition to the direct reference in episode two titled “A Brave New World,” Colony harkens back to Huxley’s dystopian caste system in which different groups of society enjoy different benefits. In the Colony, people in the Green Zone have access to the finer things in life, while the inhabitants of the Flats wait in line for rations. In both stories, the division of society is intended to keep order.
Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein
What It Is: Receiving the prestigious Michael L. Printz Honor Book in 2013, this young adult novel set in Vichy France tells the story of a young female spy who is captured by the Gestapo and forced to confess her mission or face deadly consequences.
Why You Should Read It: Co-creators Ryan Condal and Carlton Cuse reference Nazi-occupied France as one of the biggest inspirations for Colony. And though the novel is written for a younger audience, there’s no question that “Verity” would be a tough-enough badass to hold her own with the Resistance!
Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
What It Is: In his 1953 novel, beloved science-fiction writer Ray Bradbury depicts an unsettling version of the future where "firefighters" are tasked with hunting down banned books and burning them at 451 degrees. The protagonist, firefighter Guy Montag, does his duties without question until he meets Clarisse, a young bohemian who shows him that maybe books aren’t so bad after all.
Why You Should Read It: In the most meta moment of Colony (Episode 4, “Blind Spot”), Redhats raid a high school where an English teacher is lecturing on Fahrenheit 451. The book about confiscated books is confiscated, and the teacher brutally punished. Coincidentally, it’s also the episode with the fire in Katie’s living room.
Flags in the Dust by William Faulkner
What It Is: American novelist William Faulkner set the majority of his stories in the fictitious Yoknapatawpha County, based on his family home of Lafayette County in Mississippi. The first was Flags in the Dust, a novel about a wealthy Southern family after World War I.
Why You Should Read It: It’s no secret who Katie Bowman’s favorite author is. She even threatens to homeschool Bram exclusively in the works of William Faulkner. Katie takes her love of Faulkner to new levels by naming her New Orleans-themed bar the Yoknapatawpha (pronounced "Yok'na pa TAW pha,” so you can see why everyone just calls it “The Yonk”).
GALLERY: See the Easter eggs from the latest Colony here!