Utopian fiction is the creation of an ideal society, or utopia, as the setting for a novel. The biggest issues that cause conflict are solved in the novel: there is no longer war, illness, poverty, or inequality. Sometimes a more enlightened group helps guide the novels society to a better world.
New Harmony by F. Bate, Example Of A Utopia
- peaceful government
- equality for citizens
- access to education, welfare and unemployment
- a safe environment
Examples: Utopia by Sir Thomas More and Erewhon by Samuel Butler
Utopia sets out a vision of an ideal society. As the title suggests, the work presents an ambiguous and ironic projection of the ideal state.
Erewhon, like much of the Utopian literature, can be seen as Utopian satire. It is most notable in the inversion of illness and crime, with punishment for the former and treatment for the latter.
Dystopian fiction is the opposite: creation of an utterly horrible or degraded society that is generally headed to an irreversible oblivion, or dystopia.
- usually a controlling, oppressive government or no government
- either extreme poverty for everyone or a huge income gap between the richest characters and the poorest characters
- propaganda controlling people’s minds
- freethinking and independent thought is banned
Examples: The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, Divergent by Veronic Roth and 1984 by George Orwell
The Hunger Games is about a lottery in which children are picked to fight to the death.
Divergent is about a society split into five factions based on five different personality characteristics as a method to retain control over human nature.
1984 is an example of a dystopia in which British society, over time, became warped and transformed into an extreme totalitarian state. In addition to controlling the press, the food, and relationships of the state’s inhabitants, the manipulation and control of human thought itself is the goal of this regime.
Both the Utopian and Dystopian Literature is found in speculative fiction (science fiction, fantasy, horror, supernatural, apocalyptic, alternative history, or other type of fiction that is not strictly realistic) or science fiction stories.
Combination is when the novel combines both a Utopia and a dystopia, often as a metaphor for the different directions humanity can take in its choices, ending up with one of two possible futures.
Examples: Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift and The Giver by Lois Lowry
In Gulliver’s Travel, Lemuel Gulliver visits, Brobdingnag and Country of the Houyhnhnms approach a utopia; the others have significant dystopian aspects.
In The Giver, the world is described as a utopia, but as the book progresses, the world’s dystopian aspects are revealed
Ecotopian Fiction is where the author posits either a Utopian or dystopian world revolving around environmental conservation or destruction.
Example: Nature’s End by Whitley Strieber and James Kunetka
Nature’s End posits a future in which overpopulation, pollution, climate change, and resulting super storms, have led to a popular mass-suicide political movement.
Feminist Utopias contrasts the present world with an idealized society, criticizes contemporary values and conditions, sees men or masculine systems as the major cause of social and political problems, and presents women as equal to or superior to men.
Example: Golden Witchbreed by Mary Gentle’s
In Golden Witchbreed, gender is not chosen until maturity, and gender has no bearing on social roles.
By Kari W.