I am about to embark on a bit of a series of sorts. Or, at least a generically linked set of posts revolving around utopian fiction—I feel this post is more overview than insight because I want to get the ball rolling, but if utopian fiction is supposed to do anything it is supposed to illuminate and challenge the limits of our imagination: So too, speculative fiction. I want to think about ways that utopian fiction inspires us to re-imagine our lives, if only for a moment. Furthermore, no other genre is as adept at mapping the world we live in by trying to imagine a world we would rather live in.
I want to begin with the book that was certainly the beginning for me. Bored by, and moving away from humor sci-fi and fantasy (Harry Harrison…well, certain Harry Harrison…or Piers Anthony for example) I decided I wanted to read something challenging, daring, adult. The sci-fi fantasy section in the used bookstore by my house was so daunting that I rushed passed the beginning (missing Asimov and Bradbury for instance) and blindly stumbling to Ursula Le Guin’s The Dispossessed.