Monster reading list!

IssueMarch - June 2002
Feature by Lauren Kelley


  • George Orwell, 1984 (New American Library Classics, 1990. ISBN 0451524934, 268pp).
    Orwell's prophetic view of the future of the world is a chilling dystopia in which totalitarian control and conformity prevail.
  • Aldous Huxley, Brave New World (Harperperennial Library, 1998. ISBN 0060929871, 268pp)
    In exchange for crime being virtually non-existent in Huxley's imaginary utopian world, there is an absence of personal freedom.
  • Margaret Atwood,The Hand-maid's Tale (Anchor Books, 1998. ISBN 038549081X, 325pp).
    Atwood's futuristic tale takes place in a dystopia in which women are no more than baby machines. The Handmaid's Tale contains interesting political and feminist messages about the implications of a patriarchal society.
  • Plato, The Republic (Viking Press, 1979. ISBN 0140440488, 476pp).
    One of the West's great philosophical masterpieces, Plato's famous work integrates his ideas about the elements of a utopian community and how society should function.
  • H G Wells, The Time Machine (Tor Books, 1995. ISBN 0812505042, 144pp). This imaginative novel chronicles a time traveller who finds himself in a utopian world in the year 802,700.
  • Modern Utopia (University of Nebraska Press, 1967. ISBN 0803252137).
    Modern Utopia is another of Wells' portrayals of a utopian society - this world resembles our own, save for its inhabitants, which are wholly humane and rational.
  • Edward Bellamy, Looking Backward (Signet, 2000. ISBN 0451527631, 222pp) In this classic utopian novel, a young Bostonian awakes in the year 2000 after a 100- year sleep to find himself in a peaceful, near-perfect world. “Looking Backward” initiated a trend in utopian novels that lasted three decades and inspired some of the world's great utopian visionaries.
  • Ernest Callenbach, Ecotopia (Bookpeople, 1975. ISBN 0960432019.) Callenbach depicts a small, futuristic society that is ecologically sustainable in this classic narrative. Told in the style of news stories and diary entries, Ecotopia creates a blueprint for a successful industrial society of the future.
  • Ursula K Le Guin, The Dispossessed: An Ambiguous Utopia (Harper Mass Market Paperbacks, 1994. ISBN 0061054887, 400pp). A science fiction novel unlike any other, The Dispossessed follows a physicist named Shevek on his risky journey to the utopian mother planet of Anarres as he attempts to reverse the isolation of his anarchist world from the rest of the civilised universe.
  • William Dean Howell, A Traveller from Altruria (Bedford/St Martin's, 1996. ISBN 031211799X). Howell's work, of the same 19th century utopian novel genre as Edward Bellamy's Looking Backward, focuses on a utopia characterised by economic equality.
  • Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Her-land (New American Library, 1992. ISBN 0451525620, 349pp). A feminist utopian novel, Gilman's Herland is prophetic in its anticipation of many 20th century societal problems, such as pollution and over population.
  • Sir Thomas More, Utopia(The Penguin Group, 1976. ISBN 0140441654, 154pp). More, the very man who coined the word “utopia”, addresses issues such as women's rights, colonialism, religion, and education in this masterpiece of political and social theory.


  • Gregory Claeys and Lyman Tower Sargent (eds), The Utopia Reader (New York University Press, 1999. ISBN 0814715710, 432pp). This single-volume anthology of utopian writing encompasses the entire history of utopian literature, demonstrating the ways such works have functioned as criticisms of society throughout the centuries.
  • Richard C Trahair, Utopias and Utopians: An Historical Dictionary (Greenwood Press, 1999. ISBN 0313294658, 496pp). Over 600 utopian communities and their founders are inspected in this comprehensive reference book, along with basic characteristics of utopias. Entries primarily focus on the US, but there is considerable global coverage as well.
  • Daniel W Hollis, The ABC-CLIO World History Companion to Utopian Movements (ABC-CLIO Incorporated, 1998. ISBN 0874368820, 304pp). This book of reference provides details of both actual and theoretical utopian movements, prominent utopian thinkers, and utopian literature, containing some 100 alphabetical entries.
  • Eurotopia - Directory of Intentional Communities and Ecovillages in Europe (ISBN 300007080X, 416pp) This first-ever English translation of Eurotopia - includes information regarding hundreds of intentional communities and ecovillages from 23 European nations. Eurotopia also includes contact information for 24 community-related networks as well as a recommended reading list.
  • Edward Royle, Robert Owen and the Commencement of the Millennium (St Martin's Press, 1998. ISBN 0719054265, 256pp). Royle takes a close look at Robert Owen, the famous advocate of communal living, in this book, focusing on the second of Owen's two attempted intentional communities.
  • Alan Weisman, Gaviotas: A Village to Reinvent the World (Chelsea Green Publishing, 1999. ISBN 1890132284, 227pp). The tale of the village of Gaviotas is a hopeful environmental story unlike any other. Located in war-ravaged eastern Colombia, Gaviotas was transformed from a barren savannah into an efficient, prosperous village by a group of Colombian visionaries over the course of nearly three decades.
  • Chris Coates, Utopia Britannica (Diggers & Dreamers Publications, 2001. ISBN 0951494589, 312pp). Utopia Britannica is a comprehensive catalogue of over 500 British utopian experiments from 1325 to 1945, also containing details about many small museums and utopian sites, as well as articles by several guest Utopian Studies specialists.
  • Sarah Bunker, Chris Coates, David Hodgson, Andy Hill, Jonathan How and Christine Watson (eds), Diggers & Dreamers 02/03 (Diggers & Dreamers Publications, 2002. ISBN 0951494562, 224 pp)
    The 02/03 edition is the brand new, pocket-sized version of the guide to communal living that has been published since 1990. Focusing primarily on Britain, Diggers & Dreamers contains contact details, maps and characteristics of 84 communities, as well as many new and forming communities, support organisations, and networks. Intentional Communities: How to Do it (a free 24-page booklet available with the purchase of Diggers & Dreamers) How to Do it contains a great deal of helpful information about how to join or start your own intentional community.
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