March Madness is Contagious!

Druga’s Dark Horse Dethrones Dystopian Deities

Cover of Contagious by Jacqueline Druga

With a convincing victory over 1 seed Brave New World (Aldous Huxley), 24 seed Contagious (Jacqueline Druga) captured the Dystopia March Madness title on the strength of reader voting. “I credit my fan base and readers, they are by far the greatest in the world and most faithful,” Druga said of the secret to her novel’s triumph.

Contagious’s championship victory capped a shocking Cinderella run through the tournament that included a Final Four upset of 1984 (George Orwell), the top seed in the entire tournament. Though upsets abounded in the early rounds, the Final Four was almost all chalk with 1 seed Fahrenheit 451 (Ray Bradbury) claiming the fourth spot. Contagious was the exception and was not to be denied after coming this far.

“I never [expected to win],” Druga said. “I WANTED to beat [The Running Man by Stephen] King, hoped to beat [The Hunger Games by Suzanne] Collins, but didn’t expect to beat Orwell. Not at all. In fact, all my friends were telling me that just being with the greats in the Final Four was an honor and it was.” In the end, the greatest honor was reserved for Druga and Contagious.

The tournament opened with a major surprise, as 32 seed Inside Out (Maria V. Snyder) knocked off The Handmaid’s Tale (Margaret Atwood), the top seed in the Gilead Regional, on Day 1. “Atwood’s book is considered a literary classic,” Snyder said of the upset. “My readers rock and they were happy to vote for my book.”

Gilead was a topsy-turvy regional as a whole. In addition to Contagiouss Final Four run, 30 seed A Scanner Darkly (Philip K. Dick) scored a first-round upset over 3 Seed A Clockwork Orange (Anthony Burgess), and 25 seed The Memoirs of a Survivor (Doris Lessing) outlasted 8 seed Delirium (Lauren Oliver). Animal Farm (George Orwell) continued Orwell’s strong showing with a Sweet Sixteen run but was eventually devoured by The Hunger Games (Suzanne Collins), which was in turn overrun by Contagious in the regional final.

The aforementioned Orwell’s 1984 swept through the Oceania Regional after a first-round bye, swatting stalwart 9 seed Lord of the Flies (William Golding) and upstart The Postman (David Brin) on its way to the Final Four. The 29 seed Postman was the Cinderella of this regional, dispatching 4 seed The Chrysalids (John Wyndham), 13 seed The Stand (Steven King) and 5 seed The Iron Heel (Jack London) on its way to a Sweet Sixteen berth. On the other half of the Oceania bracket, Little Brother (Cory Doctorow) managed another 30-over-3 upset by toppling Oryx and Crake, Atwood’s other tournament entry. 23 seed The Penultimate Truth (Philip K. Dick) notched two additional victories for Dick, including a first-round upset of 10 seed Ready Player One (Ernest Cline). Double digit seeds Stand on Zanzibar (John Brunner) and Snow Crash (Neal Stephenson) joined 1984 and The Postman in the Sweet Sixteen, with 18 seed Snow Crash succumbing to 1984 in the regional final.

Dick’s success continued in the After Ford Regional, where 2 seed Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? achieved a Sweet Sixteen berth before falling to upstart The Day of the Triffids (John Wyndham), which also bested 3 seed The Giver (Lois Lowry) before losing to 1 seed Brave New World (Aldous Huxley) in the regional final. Higher seeds generally held serve in the After Ford Regional, with 4 seed Neuromancer (William Gibson) neutralizing 12 seed Article 5 (Kristen Simmons) to round out the Sweet Sixteen.

The same was true in the Firehouse Regional, where 1 seed Fahrenheit 451 (Ray Bradbury) burned 2 seed The Time Machine (H.G. Wells) in the regional final. 29 seed The Testing (Joelle Charbonneau) and 20 seed The Holy Machine (Chris Beckett) scored early upsets over 4 seed The Children of Men (P.D. James) and 13 seed Altered Carbon (Richard K. Morgan), respectively, before The Testing bowed out to A Canticle for Leibowitz (Walter M. Miller, Jr.) in a regional quarterfinal. On the other side of the bracket, 3 seed The Road (Cormac McCarthy) looked indomitable through two rounds before it was flooded by 11 seed The Windup Girl (Paolo Bacigalupi) en route to the Sweet Sixteen.

1 thought on “March Madness is Contagious!”

  1. Contagious is a great book! But Druga has written so many excellent books it has become a given that the next one will be great, too. I am in the process of seeing how fast I can read her backlist. I am 75 and I’m hoping to finish her books before I’m too old, too sick, or senile. My chances are not good. She writes fast…not that I want her to slow down. 😉

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