Special Report

30 Utopian Novels to Read in Our Dystopian World

Source: Courtesy of Amazon.com

Light Ahead for the Negro (1904)
> Author: Edward A. Johnson

Written by an author and lawyer who was born into slavery and would go on to become the first Black member of the New York state legislature, “Light Ahead for the Negro” imagines an American South in 2006 that is free of racial descrimination. In Johnson’s vision, unions are open to Black members, former cotton plantations have been broken up and sold at low prices to Black farmers, and Black citizens freely choose to remain socially segregated.

Source: Courtesy of Amazon.com

Walden Two (1982)
> Author: B.F. Skinner

Written by a behavioral psychologist, “Walden Two” follows a professor who visits a thriving intentional community designed around operant conditioning. In this utopia, members agree to a prescribed but mutable set of rules, family units are nonexistent, schooling focuses on each individual’s niche interests, the work week is only four hours, and a rotating group of “planners” organize the growth and evolution of the community’s code.

Source: Courtesy of Amazon.com

Through the Valley of the Nest of Spiders (2012)
> Author: Samuel R. Delaney

“Through the Valley of the Nest of Spiders” follows 75 years in the lives of a gay working class interracial couple, including their time spent at a utopian community for gay black men that was started by a billionaire philanthropist. Delaney’s exploration of free love in this subcultural utopia runs headlong into countless taboos while celebrating companionship and love between men.

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

New Atlantis (1627)
> Author: Francis Bacon

This incomplete and posthumously published novel by philosopher and statesman Francis Bacon follows a crew of sailors who encounter an island society where enlightenment, peace, generosity, and a desire for the common good guide the inhabitants, while a state-sponsored college of sciences encourages discovery and the search for knowledge.

Source: Courtesy of Amazon.com

For Us, the Living (1938)
> Author: Robert A. Heinlein

Written in 1938, “For Us, the Living” was Robert Heinlein’s first novel, yet it remained unpublished until 2003, when a biographer tracked down the lost manuscript. The book follows a man who mysteriously ends up in the year 2086 to find a society of equality, where nudity is no longer taboo; people have universal education, short working hours (if they choose to work), and high wages; and open sexualilty without jealousy is the norm.

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