Utopian stories are set in perfect or near-perfect societies. Writers have created utopias in English for at least 500 years. The term as we use it today comes from Sir Thomas More’s Utopia, which was first published in 1516. You can find antecedents in the practice of creating ideal states, a truly ancient philolosphical practice; and it is interesting that More’s book is both a work of narrative fiction and a social critique of European society.
The opposite of the utopia is the dystopia – a fictional society that has gone terrifyingly wrong. Dystopias are far more popular that utopias in contemporary fiction, and they are often presented as cautionary tales or social criticism. I have to think hard to come up with more than a couple of utopian works without a search enging (More and James Hilton’s Lost Horizon are the only ones that just spring to mind). The list of dystopian works I can name off the top of my head is long. Here are a few (links to their Goodreads pages):
Utopian and dystopian settings are popular in speculative fiction. You could even argue that they are speculative fiction by their very nature, even when they don’t contain a lot of sci-fi or fantasy elements. Some authors even combine them. It’s not uncommon to find writers playing with these concepts by doing things like creating an obvious dystopia but having everyone who lives in it convinced it’s a utopia (well, except for that one guy at the center of the story, and perhaps a few social elites).
Utopias and dystopias work well in film. So well, in fact, that I have an easier time naming dystopian movies than I do naming dystopian books.
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