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Behind The Fiction, Past
A Fiction Column
By Michael G'Francisco


UTOPIAN FICTION is a genre of English Literature, which delves into the social and political structures of an ideal world. I guess it could be compared to living in the Garden of Eden, minus a snake.

Its definition comes from the Greek words OU (not) or EU (good), and TOPOS (place), thus it could mean “no place” or “good place”. Sir Thomas Moore (1478-1535) was first to coin the name in his 1516 book, in which he named an imaginary island, UTOPIA.

Generally speaking, Utopian Fiction novels are often based on communistic or socialistic societies. Most philosophers and authors perceive to dream and write about a perfect world, which is void of crime and the mayhem that normally plagues our world. It’s far more pleasurable to read about living in a garden with a perfect climate, endless sources of free food, boundless sex, and a fun filled childlike atmosphere.

Many Utopian communities, beginning with Robert Owen’s New Harmony, in Indiana (circa 1840’s) were established in the United States. In that same time period were the Oneida in Oneida, New York, and the Shakers, an English Protestant group, which colonized in eight other states. Then there were the Amana Colony in Iowa in the 1850’s and the Hutterites in the Dakotas in the 1870’s.

In other parts of the world many Utopian settlements or colonies still exist today, such as: The New Australian in Paraguay, Sointula in Western Canada, Colonia Finlandesa in Argentina, Kolkhozes in the Soviet Union, and the Israeli Kibbutzes.

The following novels present a good example of Utopian Fiction books:

The Coming Race (1871) by Bulwer-Lytton. This novel centers on a young explorer, who accidentally discovers a subterranean world occupied by society of telepathic angel-like beings called, VIRL-YA. They live in a technological Utopian Society and possess an awesome source of power called, “VRIL”, which has the extraordinary force to enable them to use it for good or evil. This amazing energy source is capable of healing the sick and dying, altering their appearances (similar to shape shifting), and destroying all things (people or cities) at will.
Ah, but alas, their Hercules’ heal is space! It seems that their population in the tunnels beneath the surface of the earth is overpowering its space. They begin to ponder the thought of expanding to the surface of the earth, and to use their bizarre powers to destroy mankind. To find out what happens, read the novel.

Looking Backward (1888-2000) by Edward Bellamy. This novel relates a story about an extraordinary rich young man living in the late 19th Century, in which, the rich elite are in control of the masses. Unfortunately, he has a sleep disorder. His disorder presents a problem for his marriage, so he constructs a home with an underground secret room. Being wealthy, he has a mesmerist to place him in a nightly deep sleep. He, also, has a servant dictated to revive him daily from his mesmerized sleep.
Sounds great! Well, the best made plans of men and mice went askew when his home was completely destroyed by fire, leaving him presumably dead. More than one hundred years passed and his home site was excavated for a laboratory, and his hidden chamber was discovered contenting his completely preserved suspended animated body.
After his revival the young man quickly learns that the 20th Century is a vastly different society and not what it was to be, a Utopian Society, but a capitalistic society. Oh, there’s more to this rich multi-faceted novel. Read it!


DYSTOPIAN FICTION is also a genre of English Literature, but needs a little more definition. Dystopia is defined as a perfect world gone bad. The idea behind a Dystopian Society is a repressive and controlled state (police state) in the guise of being Utopian.

Dystopian Fiction can be broken down into two categories: Totalitarian and Bureaucratic.

Totalitarian Dystopia societies, usually hiding behind a political ideology, utilize total control over and demand total commitment from its citizens. Hitler’s Third Reich and Stalin’s Soviet Union were excellent and real examples of such societies.

The premise of Marxism and Communism are class systems. Each dominates the political thought of its citizens, and is very prevalent in many of the world’s provinces and countries.

Good reads on this subject are:

Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949) by George Orwell. It’s a story about Oceania, a society ruled by the oligarchical dictatorship of an elite political party. It introduces phases, such as: “Big Brother”, “The Watcher”, and other such contemporary vernacular terms that are used today. The novel also refers to official deception, secret surveillance, and manipulation of a Totalitarian political agenda.

Legend (2011) by Marie Lu. This young adult novel is set in post-apocalyptic Los Angeles. It takes place when the future of the United States is very dark and bleak because it has split into two warring nations. The novel relates a tale of two fifteen-year-old male and female children. The male is a criminal and the other is a female prodigy, which is hired to hunt him down. When their paths cross, the truth they uncover together becomes Legend.


Bureaucratic Dystopia societies are strictly regulated and hierarchial. Bureaucratic regimes only strive to achieve absolute power to enforce laws. This dystopia has very strong satirical qualities, and to some extent, surreal qualities as well.

To explore this subject read:

Fahrenheit 451 (1953) by Ray Bradbury. This classic novel presents a frightening vision of the future where reading is outlawed. The story centers on a fireman whose main job is to find books and burn them. Eventually, the fireman becomes disillusioned with his job and the society around him. He embarks on a journey of self-awareness and eventually escapes his repressive society before it collapses.

Could all of this above fiction be a sign of the future world we now live in? Will a “Privatized Corporate Dystopia Society” rule our future? Is a “New World Order”, solely dedicated to keeping the world’s citizens under an elite dominating group who control at a complete loss of our personal liberties, our future Or, maybe, the world as we know it today will become controlled by a unified world government?

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