Special Report

30 Utopian Novels to Read in Our Dystopian World

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

The Blazing World (1666)
> Author: Margaret Cavendish

Written by English philosopher Margaret Cavendish, “The Blazing World” follows a woman who enters a utopian kingdom that includes many species of talking animals, becoming its new Empress and later invading her own homeland and adding it to the utopian empire. This early work of speculative fiction challenged gender and power norms in the male-dominated philosophical discourses of the time.

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bolo’bolo (1983)
> Author: P.M. (Hans Widmer)

Written by Swiss author Hans Widmer under the pseudonym P.M., “bolo’bolo” is not a novel, but is nevertheless essential reading in the utopian genre, as it outlines in ambitious detail what a future anarchist utopia might look like. Widmer invents his own language in building this world and provides an outline for social transformation in which personal possessions are limited, regional cultures remain intact, and individuals may opt out of community.

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The Culture Series (1987)
> Author: Iain M. Banks

This towering sci-fi series by Scottish author Iain M. Banks includes 10 novels released between 1987 and 2012 that are centered around the Culture, an interstellar, post-scarcity utopian civilization of humanoid aliens and artificial intelligence, as well as various civilizations that the Culture is at odds with. Within this utopia, citizens live for centuries and focus mainly on joy, wonder, and self-actualization.

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News from Nowhere (1890)
> Author: William Morris

From socialist activist William Morris comes a hopeful and visionary picture of a future society without the need for money, private property, authority, or prisons – one in which the means of production are collectively held. Members of the agrarian society described in “News from Nowhere” find creative pleasure and meaning in their work, and therefore do not need to be coerced into production.

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The Kin of Ata Are Waiting for You (1971)
> Author: Dorothy Bryant

After a ruthless man kills his lover in a drug-fueled rage, he crashes his car and is transported to a strange, multiracial utopian land called Ata that is free of gender roles and prejudice. In Ata, dreams are the guiding forces of waking life, dictating where people work and what yearly rituals are performed. The man comes to realize that he is in a higher plane of existence that influences the real world, and that he must learn the ways of these people if he is to make it back.

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