And how modern thinkers are taking utopian ideals into the future.
“Optimistic enough to believe that imagining it is enough of a start to creating it.”
I love this line!
Thanks for this list!
Sounds like a great way to organize a year's worth of reading. Thanks for putting this together!
THIS is amazing! I can't wait to read your thoughts on a more beautiful world as the year goes on...I've so enjoyed these musings so far! 💛
One thing about The Ministry For The Future, which is a truly fantastic book that's brimming with practical ideas and hope: the first chapter, about a wet bulb heatwave, is one of the most bloodcurdling things I've read in scifi. I definitely appreciated a warning before reading it, because if you're feeling any climate-change anxiety you might want a glass of wine handy before reading it.
Also, re KSR and utopian fiction, I loved how he makes a case for his approach here: https://www.polygon.com/2020/10/20/21525509/kim-stanley-robinson-interview-science-fiction-utopias
"I felt a deep kinship and love for Ursula K. Le Guin and Iain Banks, these two great utopian writers. They’ve died, and I do feel a bit lonely for my own generation. But I also see a lot of young writers coming up who call themselves solarpunk, or hopepunk, or the new utopians, and whatnot. They’re forming schools, they’re trying to get enthusiastic about improvising our way to a green future. I think they’re utopian, but perhaps a little bit outdated or scared by the term “utopia,” because it’s so often used as a weapon to mean “unrealistic and never going to happen.” So they make up different names. I’m glad to see these. I don’t think utopian fiction will ever go away. It’s like a necessary blueprint for thinking our way forward. So it seems like it’s a good time for utopian fiction. I’m sad at losing colleagues I loved, but I’m encouraged at the way the genre itself is ratcheting its way back into people’s attention."
I really like this concept, thank you, it feels fresh to come across this nice post.
Definitely saving your list, as I am also a geeky soul who loves utopian stories.
After you've read 'Lost Horizon' I recommend you watch the movie version from 1937 with Ronald Colman. He's the classic movie actor with the velvety voice.
James Hilton also wrote 'Random Harvest' - which also became a wonderful classic movie.
Am I too late? Can I jump in now?
Elle, you have inspired me so much! Thank you!!
What a brilliant, intelligent and inspiring list!
I had very little interest in social justice, utopias and imagining a more equal and healthy future until I found you. Now, my fictional settings in my stories are sliding toward those very concepts. And I have you to thank for planting the seed. You are an influencer of the best sort, and I can't wait to see more discussion on all the aspects of what makes a Utopia!
I would also recommend Chernyshevsky’s What Is To Be Done? (1863). It’s a proto-socialist and proto-feminist story of a woman who is trapped in bad circumstances but manages to escape and carve out a better life that is in accordance with her values. At the same time it’s an utopian novel through the woman’s series of dreams of an ideal society. The book was hugely influential for the socialist movement in Russia.
I may have mentioned this on here before but I actually studied Utopianism in college, and I would definitely include this one on your list!
Another consideration is that it might be worth reading some dystopias to see how utopian thinking can go wrong. I really admire this project you’ve taken on, but there is a long history of people using utopian thinking to start mass societies that are anything but. This was kind of the thesis of my work in college—that utopias that are put into practice can often be experienced as dystopias by the people who live through them if, for example, the key elements of the human experience are mechanized too much, or it is impossible to leave them, or if innovation is discouraged, or if they veer into eugenics. A real utopia would learn from dystopias as well as utopias to avoid becoming the former. Just something to consider!
Love this project
Any way to make the threadable app accessible to non apple users?
I saw ksr's 2140 on your reading list, I read 2312 and it was the most comprehensive grand tour of a utopian project I've ever read. Whenever I talk about realistic utopias I quote ksr. I guess the new York novel is a spin off of the NYC in 2312. Glad to see you worked him into your list, he's kind of a genius.
Can I suggest Sultanas Dream, by Rokeya Sakhawat Hossain (1917). Its only short so it could be supplementary to Cavendish's blazing world, as a feminist utopia.
I'm so excited for this Elle! I hope I can following along a little, though I won't be able to do the reading (though I studied Plato's Republic so I'm excited for that discussion!). Thanks too for sharing the reading material, which would have taken so much work to pull together. I am particularly excited about the month on Ursula K Le Guin, who I only really discovered last year (shocking I know!). I also read Herland a few years back, and haven't stopped thinking about it since, so I hope to join in some of the reading and discussions here as well as see your Utopian novel come to life!
I hear you have an interest in Utopia Elle, I'd recommend you actually visit and study the place where I grew up partially called Auroville. You can contact https://www.facebook.com/akash.kapur Akash Kapur and buy a copy of his book.
Auroville has a philosophical and eco-village component among other things. It also marries the ancient with the post-modern and explores the concept of unity in diversity in its own light among the biggest and longest standing "intentional communities" founded in the 1960s.