Utopias and Dystopias

Just what is the optimal type of government? If government should be big, what should it do and who should run it? If government should be small or nonexistent, what should take its place? Should we embrace The Singularity or should we retreat back to Ecotopia? Is democracy optimal, or should we go back to monarchy? Maybe we should just let the mafia run things...

Sometimes the best way to explore these questions is to run a mental simulation through fiction. And so writers have promoted their ideas in utopian fiction and blasted ideas they disliked in dystopian fiction.

Here is an eclectic list of some of my favorites. You will find dystopias with runaway government which makes you long for liberty, and runaway corporations which make you long for more government. There are hippytopias and conservative Christian utopias. There are stealth utopian works disguised as comedies and even a crime novel. And there are few which are ambiguous as to whether they are utopian or dystopian works.

Not included here are the usual suspects. For the most part I have also omitted overly preachy works; I made a very few exceptions because the utopias described were just so different as to make the works interesting on that count. The rest stand on the merits of their interesting plots. Enjoy.

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