Beyond Literary Landscape—Beware the Robots: Technophobia Throughout Literature

Beyond Literary Landscape—Beware the Robots: Technophobia Throughout Literature

From my early beginnings as a young introvert, the public library has always been a bit of a refuge.  Years later, not much has changed, albeit with an additional affinity for endless hours spent scouring second-hand bookstores to add to my ever-growing “to-read” pile.

From one bookworm to another, this column will be underscoring and outlining various literary genres, authors, and recent reads and can serve as an introduction for those unfamiliar with these works, as a refresher for long-time aficionados, and maybe as an inspiration for readers to share their own suggested topics.  Do you have a topic that you would like covered in this column?  Feel free to contact me for an interview and a feature in an upcoming column.


This week, we focus on a literary theme well known to fans of dystopian fiction, science fiction, horror, or fantasy, namely technophobia—or the fear of technology.

Technophobia in literature was influenced by concerns that first appeared “during the Industrial Revolution, as skilled workers in the textile trade began to be replaced by framing machines and powered looms, operated by lower-paid, unskilled workers.”


Some well-known works related to technological fears include The Circle by David Eggers, Brave New World by Aldous Huxley, Frankenstein; or the Modern Prometheus by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, 2001: A Space Odyssey by Arthur C.  Clarke, and I, Robot by Isaac Asimov.


These works are set in the United States, the United Kingdom, as well as in outer space.


These novels are set in the past, current day, and in the future.


These novels may be of interest to AU learners who would like to learn more about what sorts of technological fears were seen throughout the history of literature, from overbearing technological corporations to uncontrollable robots.  In particular, these books may be of interest to students who are apprehensive about increasingly, unchecked technological innovation, as well as those on the opposite side if the spectrum who would like to understand the reasoning behind these fears.


AU’s wide range of diverse courses make it easy to study this topic in depth.  Courses related to technological fears are available in a variety of disciplines, including one’s that may fit into your Degree Works.  (Always check with an AU counsellor to see if these particular courses fulfill your personal graduation requirements!)

AU students interested in learning more about this topic may enroll in HIST 209: A History of the World in the Twentieth Century: I, a junior-level, three-credit course, which “introduces students to twentieth-century world history.  The primary objective of this course is to help students to understand the major economic, political, social, scientific, and technological developments in the twentieth century.”  (No prerequisites are required for this course).  Happy reading!