Utopian and dystopian fiction
The utopia and its offshoot, the dystopia, are genres of literature that explore social and political structures. Utopian fiction is the creation of an ideal society, or utopia, as the setting for a novel. Dystopian fiction is the opposite: creation of an utterly horrible or degraded society, or dystopia. Many novels combine both, often as a metaphor for the different directions humanity can take in its choices, ending up with one of two possible futures. Both utopias and dystopias are commonly found in science fiction and other speculative fiction genres, and arguably are by definition a type of speculative fiction.
Utopian fiction 
The word utopia was first used in direct context by Sir Thomas More in his 1516 work Utopia. The word utopia resembles both the Greek words "no place", "outopos", and "good place", "eutopos". In his book, which was written in Latin, More sets out a vision of an ideal society. As the title suggests, the work presents an ambiguous and ironic projection of the ideal state. The whimsical nature of the text can be confirmed by the narrator of Utopia's second book, Raphael Hythloday. The Greek root of Hythloday suggests an 'expert in nonsense'. An earlier example of a Utopian work from classical antiquity is Plato's The Republic, in which he outlines what he sees as the ideal society and its political system. Later examples can be seen in Samuel Johnson's The History of Rasselas, Prince of Abissinia and Samuel Butler's Erewhon, which uses an anagram of "nowhere" as its title. This, like much of the utopian literature, can be seen as utopian satire which is most notable in the inversion of illness and crime which Butler portrays, with punishment for the former and treatment for the latter.
Dystopian fiction 
Dystopia is defined as a society characterized by a focus on mass poverty, squalor, suffering, or oppression. Most authors of dystopian fiction explore at least one reason why things are that way, often as an analogy for similar issues in the real world.
Dystopias usually extrapolate elements of contemporary society and are read by many as political warnings. Many purported utopias reveal a dystopian character by suppressing justice, freedom and happiness. Samuel Butler's Erewhon can be seen as a dystopia because of the way sick people are punished as criminals while thieves are cured in hospitals, which the inhabitants of Erewhon see as natural and right, i.e. utopian (as mocked in Voltaire's Candide). The 1921 novel We by Yevgeny Zamyatin predicts a post-apocalyptic future in which society is entirely based on logic and modeled after mechanical systems; also, George Orwell cited it as an influence on his Nineteen Eighty-Four. Aldous Huxley's novel Brave New World is a more subtle and more threatening dystopia because he projected into the year 2540 industrial and social changes he perceived in 1931, leading to a fascist hierarchy of society, industrially successful by exploiting a slave class conditioned and drugged to obey and enjoy their servitude. George Orwell's novel Nineteen Eighty-Four is a dystopian novel about a coercive and impoverished totalitarian society, conditioning its population through propaganda rather than drugs. Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale describes a future North America governed by strict religious rules which only the privileged dare defy. Examples of Young Adult Dystopian Fiction include Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, The House of the Scorpion by Nancy Farmer, and Delirium by Lauren Oliver. Video games often include dystopias as well; a notable example is Bioshock by 2K Games.
Jonathan Swift's Gulliver's Travels is sometimes linked with utopian (and dystopian) literature, because it shares the general preoccupation with ideas of the good (and bad) society. Of the countries Lemuel Gulliver visits, Brobdingnag and Country of the Houyhnhnms approach a utopia; the others have significant dystopian aspects.
Many works combine elements of both utopias and dystopias. Typically, an observer from our world will journey to another place or time and see one society the author considers ideal, and another representing the worst possible outcome. The point is usually that the choices we make now may lead to a better or worse potential future world. Ursula K. Le Guin's Always Coming Home fulfils this model, as does Marge Piercy's Woman on the Edge of Time. In Starhawk's The Fifth Sacred Thing there is no time-travelling observer, but her ideal society is invaded by a neighbouring power embodying evil repression. In Aldous Huxley's Island, in many ways a counterpoint to his better-known Brave New World, the fusion of the best parts of Buddhist philosophy and Western technology is threatened by the "invasion" of oil companies.
In another literary model, the imagined society journeys between elements of utopia and dystopia over the course of the novel or film. At the beginning of The Giver by Lois Lowry, the world is described as a utopia, but as the book progresses, the world's dystopian aspects are revealed.
Ecotopian fiction 
A subgenre of this is ecotopian fiction, where the author posits either a utopian or dystopian world revolving around environmental conservation or destruction. Danny Bloom coined the term "cli fi" in 2006, with a Twitter boost from Margaret Atwood http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jANW1k-L50g in 2011, to cover climate change-related fiction, but the theme has existed for decades. Novels dealing with overpopulation, such as Harry Harrison's Make Room! Make Room! (made into movie Soylent Green), were popular in the 1970s, reflecting the popular concern with the effects of overpopulation on the environment. The novel Nature's End by Whitley Strieber and James Kunetka (1986) posits a future in which overpopulation, pollution, climate change, and resulting superstorms, have led to a popular mass-suicide political movement.
While eco-dystopias are more common, a small number of works depicting what might be called eco-utopia, or eco-utopian trends, have also been influential. These include Ernest Callenbach's Ecotopia, an important 20th century example of this genre. Kim Stanley Robinson has written a number of books dealing with environmental themes, including the Mars trilogy. Most notably, however, his Three Californias Trilogy contrasted an eco-dystopia with an eco-utopia, and a sort of middling-future. Robinson has also edited an anthology of short ecotopian fiction, called Future Primitive: The New Ecotopias.
Feminist Utopias 
Another subgenre is feminist utopias and the overlapping category of feminist science fiction. Writer Sally Miller Gearhart calls this sort of fiction political: it contrasts the present world with an idealized society, criticizes contemporary values and conditions, sees men or masculine systems as the major cause of social and political problems (e.g. war), and presents women as equal to or superior to men, having ownership over their reproductive functions. A common solution to gender oppression or social ills in feminist utopian fiction is to remove men, either showing isolated all-female societies as in Charlotte Perkins Gilman's Herland, or societies where men have died out or been replaced, as in Joanna Russ's A Few Things I Know About Whileaway, where "the poisonous binary gender" has died off. Marge Piercy's novel Woman on the Edge of Time keeps human biology, but removes pregnancy and childbirth from the gender equation by resorting to artificial wombs, while allowing both women and men the nurturing experience of breastfeeding.
Utopias have explored the ramification of gender being either a societal construct or a hard-wired imperative. In Mary Gentle's Golden Witchbreed, gender is not chosen until maturity, and gender has no bearing on social roles. In contrast, Doris Lessing's The Marriages Between Zones Three, Four and Five (1980) suggests that men's and women's values are inherent to the sexes and cannot be changed, making a compromise between them essential. In My Own Utopia (1961) by Elizabeth Mann Borghese, gender exists but is dependent upon age rather than sex — genderless children mature into women, some of whom eventually become men.
Utopic single-gender worlds or single-sex societies have long been one of the primary ways to explore implications of gender and gender-differences. In speculative fiction, female-only worlds have been imagined to come about by the action of disease that wipes out men, along with the development of technological or mystical method that allow female parthenogenic reproduction. The resulting society is often shown to be utopian by feminist writers. Many influential feminist utopias of this sort were written in the 1970s; the most often studied examples include Joanna Russ's The Female Man, Suzy McKee Charnas's Walk to the End of the World and Motherlines, and Marge Piercy's Woman on the Edge of Time. Utopias imagined by male authors have generally included equality between sexes, rather than separation. Such worlds have been portrayed most often by lesbian or feminist authors; their use of female-only worlds allows the exploration of female independence and freedom from patriarchy. The societies may not necessarily be lesbian, or sexual at all — Herland (1915) by Charlotte Perkins Gilman is a famous early example of a sexless society. Charlene Ball writes in Women's Studies Encyclopedia that use of speculative fiction to explore gender roles has been more common in the United States than in Europe and elsewhere.
Feminist dystopians have become prevalent in Young Adult, or YA, literature in recent years, focusing on the relationship between gender identity and the teenager. For instance, the Birthmarked trilogy by Caragh O'Brien focuses on a teenage midwife in a future post-apocalyptic world while the second novel in the series places the teenage heroine Maia in a matriarchal society.
Neutropia is a form of speculative fiction that does not neatly fit into categories of utopia or dystopia. Neutropia often involves a state that is both good and bad or neither. An example of such would be Brave New World
Cultural impact 
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Étienne Cabet's work Travels in Icaria caused a group of followers to leave France in 1848 and travel to the United States to found a series of utopian settlements in Texas, Illinois, Iowa, California, and elsewhere. These groups lived in communal settings and lasted until 1898.
Though few would claim "utopian" status, intentional communities are groups of people who strive for a more ideal life in some way, and are inspired by a similar urge to that found in utopian novels. These communities are cultural and social experiments in better living. Some of the better known modern experiments include the Findhorn Foundation in Scotland, Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage, Twin Oaks and Los Horcones (inspired by B. F. Skinner's Walden Two) and The Farm in the US, ZEGG in Germany, Camphill Communities (all over, but originating in Europe), and Auroville in India.
See also 
- Sargent, Lyman Tower. "Themes in Utopian Fiction in English before Wells.", pp. 275-76, Science Fiction Studies Vol. 10, No. 3, pt. 3 (November 1976); pp. 275-82.
- Tierney, Helen (1999). Women's studies encyclopedia. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 1442. ISBN 978-0-313-31073-7.
- Attebery, p. 13.
- Gaétan Brulotte & John Phillips,Encyclopedia of Erotic Literature', "Science Fiction and Fantasy", p.1189, CRC Press, 2006, ISBN 1-57958-441-1
- Martha A. Bartter, The Utopian Fantastic, "Momutes", Robin Anne Reid, p.101 ISBN 0-313-31635-X
- Martha A. Bartter, The Utopian Fantastic, "Momutes", Robin Anne Reid, p.102 ISBN
- "Caragh O'Brien". Wikipedia.
- Applebaum, Robert. Literature and Utopian Politics in Seventeenth-Century England. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2002.
- Bartkowski, Frances. Feminist Utopias. Lincoln, NE, University of Nebraska Press, 1991.
- Booker, M. Keith. The Dystopian Impulse in Modern Literature. Westport, CT, Greenwood Press, 1994.
- Booker, M. Keith. Dystopian Literature: A Theory and Research Guide. Westport, CT, Greenwood Press, 1994.
- Ferns, Chris. Narrating Utopia: Ideology, Gender, Form in Utopian Literature. Liverpool, Liverpool University Press, 1999.
- Gerber, Richard. Utopian Fantasy. London, Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1955.
- Gottlieb, Erika. Dystopian Fiction East and West: Universe of Terror and Trial. Montreal, McGill-Queen's Press, 2001.
- Haschak, Paul G. Utopian/Dystopian Literature. Metuchen, NJ, Scarecrow Press, 1994.
- Jameson, Fredric. Archaeologies of the future: the Desire Called Utopia and Other Science Fictions. London, Verso, 2005.
- Kessler, Carol Farley. Dare to Dream: Utopian Fiction by United States Women Before 1950. Syracuse, NY, Syracuse University Press, 1995.
- Tod, Ian, and Michael Wheeler. Utopia. London, Orbis, 1978.
- Sargent, Lyman Tower. "Themes in Utopian Fiction in English before Wells." Science Fiction Studies Vol. 10, No. 3, pt. 3 (November 1976); pp. 275-82.
- Szweykowski, Zygmunt. Twórczość Bolesława Prusa (The Art of Bolesław Prus), 2nd ed., Warsaw, Państwowy Instytut Wydawniczy, 1972.