Six Stories That Find the Drama in Utopian Settings


This post is by James Davis Nicoll from Tor.com Frontpage Partial - Blog and Story Content


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Imagine a nightmarish future in which the essentials of life are ruthlessly supplied to all—one where each citizen is brutally denied the cliffhanging entertainment of recurrent life-and-death crises, and where there is not even a single genetically engineered hyper-intelligent carnivorous flightless parrot roaming daycare facilities. Benevolent providence has so far protected us from such hellishly stable futures, but it cannot prevent authors from imagining them. But once such utopias are imagined, how is the poor author to squeeze an interesting story out of a world lacking everything that makes life precious (as well as precarious)?

I recently reviewed a series in which this challenge was successfully met and found myself wondering how other authors have handled the problem. Here are a few such works—doubtless there are more, which readers may feel free to suggest in comments.

Tanith Lee’s classic duology Don’t Bite the Sun and Drinking Sapphire Wine is set ...