Bologna is a lovely Italian city nestled in the Po Valley with beautiful fountains, red-tiled roofs, the oldest university in the world (1088), narrow streets, motorbikes — the whole European deal. In the book world, Bologna is home to the Bologna Book Fair, where Americans and Europeans make the deals for translating and publishing children’s books in those countries. It’s an important book fair because it crystallizes what books will be coming out in the young-adult book market in the next year. As it turns out, the authors, publishers and literary agents of two continents have all decided that VAMPIRES ARE OVER. SO ARE ZOMBIES, DEMONS, WEREWOLVES AND THE HUNTING THEREOF. DONE. KAPUT. I think I speak for all book snobs when I say, “Thank you, Europe.” I think I speak for all American booksellers when I say, “Oh, crap.” If you take all the bloodsucking out of my Young Adult section, you’re pretty much left with a dog-eared “Sense and Sensibility” some English major resold me on her way to a life of student-loan dodging and sandwich artistry. Manga sales are toast, as evidenced by publisher Tokyopop going out of business in April. Luckily, Bologna can point the way to the future. A future where we stone our lottery winners, where reproduction is outlawed, where our every move is caught on camera for purposes of state control. That’s right: 2011 is the year of Dystopia. For anyone who doesn’t know (don’t feel bad, I didn’t until I read this), dystopian novels are usually futuristic works that deal with a repressive government controlling its citizenry. Classic examples are “1984”, “Brave New World” or “Fahrenheit 451”. The genre, while always reliable, is overdue for a reboot, and Adams does an excellent job of including the old masterworks and many new pieces to cast a fresh light on our society. For 16 bucks, you get 30 stories by folks ranging from Shirley Jackson, Ray Bradbury, and Harlan Ellison to barely published new writers like S.L. Gilbow and Joseph Paul Haines. There’s even a really fun choose-your-own-adventure story at the end (“Congratulations! You choose fascism!”). Personally, I would have paid $16 for just two of the stories in here: Ursula K. Le Guin’s “The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas” and Gilbow’s “The Red Card.” For those of you who haven’t read her, Ursula Le Guin, in a just society, would be worshipped as a deity and showered with rose petals wherever she deigned to step — a literary Lady Gaga. In the real world, she’s just an old crank who hates Google. “Omelas” is the story of a utopian society where everything is rosy except for this one kid they have to keep chained up in a dark basement in order for everyone else to be happy. Every citizen has to see the kid. If you like the utopia, you have to live with the knowledge that you also chain up a kid in a basement. Otherwise, you have to leave the beautiful city, and take your chances in the outside world. The writing is descriptive, the language tight, the concepts not hidden in postmodern trickery and the story raises philosophical issues with no easy answers, including the concepts of shared sacrifice versus scapegoating and a society based on well-known, semi-hidden evils. (Saipan, rare metals, oil wells, Afghanistan, Iraq?) Gilbow’s “The Red Card” is much more fun. Basically, there’s a secret lottery in this society, for a box containing a red card and a gun. If you win the red card, you get to shoot one person of your choice, penalty-free. The story has a nice twist, and really invites the reader to dream about winning a red card of their own. The only style of book that was a clear winner at Bologna was dystopian future novels, and most everything else was a return to good old literary fiction. If the quality of writing in “Brave New Worlds” is any indication of what’s to come, I can only say “amen”. “Brave New Worlds” is $15.99 at Backlist Books in downtown Massillon.