utopian novel

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The Island of Anarchy by E W [E Waterhouse] -

Rare First Edition 1887 Utopian novel which features religious fervor and an anarchist exile community on a south sea island

incredibly rare with the original Victorian dust jacket which has preserved the white cloth printed boards very well after 127 years

Books Everyone Should Read!

I’ve wanted to do this for ages, so here goes. These are some of the books/plays/poets that I think (this is just my opinion!) everyone should read before they die. If anyone wants to add to the list, then please do by commenting or reblogging!

Originally posted by blackewhitelover


Fantasy and/or Children’s Novels: 

  • The Harry Potter Series - J. K. Rowling. Anyone who knows me, knows that I will always love Potter, until the very end. 
  • The Lord of the Rings & The Hobbit - J. R. R. Tolkien.
  • The Chronicles of Narnia - C. S. Lewis.
  • The Percy Jackson Series - Rick Riordan. All of his books are great, not just this series, but the others too.
  • Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland & Through The Looking Glass - Lewis Carroll.
  • The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (The Oz Books) - L. Frank Baum.
  • The Mortal Instruments Series - Cassandra Clare.
  • A Series of Unfortunate Events - Lemony Snicket.
  • The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett.
  • The Once & Future King - T. H. White. 

Dystopian and/or Utopian Novels: 

  • The Hunger Games - Suzanne Collins.
  • The Maze Runner Trilogy - James Dashner. 
  • The Divergent Trilogy - Veronica Roth.

  • The Giver Quartet - Lois Lowry.
  • Lord of the Flies -  William Golding.

  • The Handmaid’s Tale -  Margaret Atwood.
  • The Road - Cormac McCarthy.

Gothic and/or Horror Novels:

  • Dracula - Bram Stoker.
  • The Beetle: A Mystery - Richard Marsh.
  • The Bloody Chamber - Angela Carter.
  • Frankenstein - Mary Shelley.
  • The Fall of the House of Usher & Other Writings - Edgar Allen Poe.
  • Interview with a Vampire - Anne Rice.
  • The Darren Shan Series - Darren Shan. 
  • Salem’s Lot - Stephen King.
  • Dreamcatcher - Stephen King.
  • The Shining - Stephen King.
  • Carrie - Stephen King. 

Young Adult and/or Influential Novels:

  • To Kill A Mockingbird - Harper Lee (I have Go Set A Watchman but I still need to read it!). 
  •  Oranges Aren’t The Only Fruit -  Jeanette Winterson.
  • The Catcher in the Rye - J. D. Salinger. 
  • The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini. 
  • The Virgin Suicides - Jeffery Eugenides. 
  • The Perks of Being a Wallflower - Stephen Chbosky. 
  • All The Bright Places - Jennifer Niven. 
  • Attachments - Rainbow Rowell. 
  • Eleanor & Park - Rainbow Rowell.
  • Fangirl - Rainbow Rowell. 
  • Landline - Rainbow Rowell.
  • Carry On - Rainbow Rowell.
  • Looking For Alaska - John Green.
  • An Abundance of Katherines - John Green.
  • Paper Towns - John Green.
  • Will Grayson, Will Grayson - John Green & David Levithan. 
  • The Fault in Our Stars - John Green.
  • Me and Earl and the Dying Girl - Jesse Andrews. 

Crime and/or Thriller Novels: 

  • The Alex Rider Series - Anthony Horowitz.
  • The Cuckoo’s Calling -  Robert Galbraith (J. K. Rowling). 
  • The Silkworm -  Robert Galbraith (J. K. Rowling).
  • Career of Evil -  Robert Galbraith (J. K. Rowling).

Classics:

  • The Great Gatsby - F. Scott Fitzgerald.
  • The Picture of Dorian Gray - Oscar Wilde.
  • Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen.
  • Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen.
  • Mansfield Park - Jane Austen.
  • Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte.
  • Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte.
  • Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck.
  • Great Expectations - Charles Dickens.
  • The Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck.
  • Moby-Dick; or, The Whale - Herman Melville.
  • Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens.
  • The Beach -  Alex Garland.

Plays (read them and if you can see a performance or two, there’s nothing like the theatre):

  • The Oresteia -  Aeschylus.
  • The Three Theban Plays - Sophocles.
  • The Odyssey - Homer. 
  • The Iliad - Homer. 
  • William Shakespeare’s Plays (these are just a few of my favourites!): 

Titus Andronicus.

Measure for Measure. 

Macbeth.

Hamlet.

A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

The Merchant of Venice.

As You Like It.

Twelfth Night.

  • The Duchess of Malfi - John Webster. 

Poetry:

  • William Blake’s Poetry - Literally one of my favourite poets. 
  • William Wordsworth’s Poetry.
  • War Poetry -  two of my favourites are Wilfred Owen and Siegfried Sassoon.
  • Sylvia Plath’s Poetry - C’mon, who hasn’t read her work?
  • Carol Ann Duffy - I love her. 

I think that’s all I have for now. I know I’m missing loads, but this is what I’ve been able to come up with so far. Also, just because she asked this is for the lovely @glide-thru, I read a lot :P

“Deconstructed” Assimilation Plot

My wife and I were thinking of writing a near-future (2030) sci-fi novel with utopian/dystopian themes, revolving around an viral video (produced by a team of researchers) that causes a profound quasi-religious experience in a receptive viewer. As a result, people who have watched it are generally happier and have a sense of shared purpose and trust of others who have watched. 

They also become more altruistic, tend to want to “convert” dissidents, and organize together to do so. Essentially an optimistic deconstruction of the Assimilation Plot, which maintains individuality, so most of the typical reasons why assimilation is bad aren’t such large factors. We thought this had some fascinating parallels with a lot of different issues about identity, religion and politics, as long as we present it as something not entirely good or bad. We figured that this would be a great opportunity to have a ethnically diverse cast of characters to discuss the moral issues posed by such a ideological group attempting to integrate/assimilate different communities and groups of people. Our main cast is fairly diverse, though we plan to use their families and friends to offer more varied viewpoints, and avoid tokenism.

Anyways, we’re concerned about crafting authentic and nuanced reactions to this event, particularly among our main characters, so if you have any suggestions about how their ethnic backgrounds might contribute to their viewpoints about the event (either as converts or dissidents), we’d love to hear them. Two of our characters we’re particularly concerned about are a 30 year old former Syrian refugee female software developer (non-practicing Muslim, married to a white agnostic ethicist), and a 23 year old Afro-Latino cyber-security expert/conspiracy theorist (middle child from a stable lower-middle class family).

[ask shortened due to exceeding length, reminder: aim for brevity, askers]

Deconstruction is not the word

I’m confused by this question.  Let’s look at what a “deconstruction” in literature actually is.  Quite literally, you take a common or established storyline and break it down into its component parts, then examine each of those parts closely and play them through to their (often painful) logical conclusions.  In a deconstruction, if some action has a consequence, the deconstruction of that plot point is to to play that consequence cruelly straight without handwaving things away, seeing in gruesome detail what effects that conceit has on the characters.

In brief, when you deconstruct high fantasy, what you get is Game of Thrones.  When you deconstruct space opera, what you get is Season 3 of Battlestar Galactica.  Deconstruction is an intentional reading of an established formula with an eye counter to that which was originally intended.  Deconstructing modernism gives you Kafka’s “The Metamorphosis” wherein the protagonist becomes a giant freaking bug for no god damn reason.  When you consider that many of the things that often occur in narratives would actually be incredibly psychologically damaging in real life, balance and optimism are not really a thing in deconstruction.

What Deconstructed Assimilation Looks Like

So, with this knowledge, let’s look at what deconstructing assimilation would look like in this context.

Cultural assimilation is about subsuming the characteristics of one’s native culture to the larger society in which one lives.  Wholesale assimilation requires you giving up your native food, your native dress, often your native name, because its “easier” or “cooler” or whatever.  People actually do this a lot. Often we choose to do so because it kind of greases the wheels when we live in a place where people like us are the minority.  But there’s a price.  Even the most psychologically well-balanced individuals are going to be torn by the tightrope act required by assimilation.  

I often give my name as “Nick” at Starbucks even against the twinges of feeling like I’m selling out my family, because it makes my afternoon proceed just a little bit easier.  Sometimes I don’t.  It’s basically a coin flip depending on how I’m feeling that very second.  But each act is a choice that changes a person’s sense of being an individual in an culture that regard them as an outsider.  If we deconstruct this notion we’re going to be playing the consequences through to the gory logical ends—every choice a person makes to assimilate or not assimilate is going to be affecting their sense of what being “an individual” means on a very basic level.  

In this sense, I see the whole point of a deconstruction being that “individuality” isn’t a discrete, concrete concept.  Deconstructing assimilation means deconstructing individuality, particularly cultural individuality, and a storyline that deconstructs the concept of assimilation can’t do so while maintaining “individuality” because the two concepts are inextricably and contradictorily linked.

Subverting Assimilation may be the word

If you mean subverting the concept, that’s different, but I have a very hard time seeing how deconstructing and closely examining the notion of assimilation can be done “optimistically” if you’re coming at it from the perspective that assimilation is a bad thing.

~Mod Nikhil

I’ve discussed people ‘deconstructing’ assimilation plots with a more positive twist here: [Pagan Scandinavians and Colonialism]. I’d suggest reading that post to get my full thoughts.

Risks of Adding Optimism to Assimilation

Broadly speaking, attempting to create a “positive” spin on assimilation runs an extremely high risk of sanitizing cultural genocide. The core rooted belief of converting others is that all other beliefs are wrong, your way of life is the best, and you should do whatever it takes to convince people to jump into your way of life because they’ll eventually see it’s the best thing ever.

This has huge problems. If you think it’s okay just because the doctrine will adapt to individual culture, allow me to point you to the sheer number of places Christianity got mixed with the local beliefs in order to convert more people. That’s what made it such an insidious religion; they were willing to adapt to whatever culture in order to get more converts (usually destroying parts of the Indigenous culture in the process, using the mix as a stepping stone to slowly assimilate them and have them lose touch with their original beliefs).

While some of the mixes have been taken back by their individual peoples, that doesn’t stop the mixed reaction many many many Indigenous people have with any religion that tries to take over. Trying to spin tactics that directly lead to cultural destruction as positive “this time” doesn’t hold up, because you haven’t created a situation that has addressed the problem. You’ve just draped it in new decoration, with a video instead of a metaphysical being. Otherwise, this mirrors colonialism. 

This sort of scenario has happened all over the world, with dozens of faiths, hundreds of ethnicities, and it always follows the same method: a group of people believes everyone should be like them, and is willing to use whatever tactics to get there. I see nothing different, at its heart, with your plot.

If you want to try and avoid it, get rid of the need to convert others. You could still have some squicky parts, but at least without a need to convert others there is far less room for psychological manipulation and coercion. 

~ Mod Lesya 

Books for Solarpunks

These books were not all conceived as solarpunk, but they all fit some aspect of the movement. Add on if you know of more.

  • Ecotopia: The Notebooks and Reports of William Weston, by Ernest Callenbach – this is one of the first ecological utopias, and, as a Northwesterner, I have to put it before all others. Cascadia Forever.
  • Woman on the Edge of Time, by Marge Piercy – you’ll find a legitimately utopian world in this novel. I’ve never been a huge fan of the plot, but as an ecological/cultural thought experiment it rules.
  • Science in the Capitol series, by Kim Stanley Robinson –  beginning with 40 Signs of Rain, this series imagines a near-future/present day shift to politicians actually giving a fuck about global warming.
  • The Gaea Trilogy, by John Varley – anything by Varely will have solarpunk aspects, but the Gaea Trilogy is an interesting look at what solarpunk in space might look like. Humanity encounters a massive Stanford torus orbiting Saturn. Is it closer to fantasy than sci-fi? Yeah. But who doesn’t love centaurs?
  • Three Californias trilogy, by Kim Stanley Robinson – this trilogy explores three versions of future California. The third book, Pacific Edge, is the only ecologically sound future imagined, a very solarpunkish utopia.
  • The Summer Prince, by Alaya Dawn Johnson – I saved this for last because as far as I’m concerned it’s legit solarpunk. Gorgeous imagery and world-building any solarpunk will love.
Jiang Wen: “their narrations are always broken”

More Jiang Wen! I’m currently reading “From the Glaring Sun to Flying Bullets: Aesthetics and Memory in the ‘Post-’ Era Chinese Cinema” by Xiao Liu in the collection China’s iGeneration: Cinema and Moving Image Culture for the Twenty-First Century.

I really liked this section on his film The Sun Also Rises. I’ve put Jiang Wen’s extended quote in bold:

While reconstructing lost memories through sensual images, Jiang Wen is well aware that any reconstruction is necessarily incomplete and mediated. To a certain extent, the crazy mother signifies the incomprehensibility of the past from the perspective of the son, as Jiang Wen explains:

‘Why does the mad mother sing poems on the roof of her house? [That is because] she has an inner world that cannot be easily conveyed to her son. Any parents have their own stores of being thrown into mad love, and for some reason, they seldom tell their own love stories to their children. Their narrations are always broken. Their love stories may be conveyed around various objects passed down, but even so, the story the father told might be different with the one from the mother.’  

Here ‘madness,” instead of being perceived as abnormal, indicates unavoidable incomprehensibility and limited accessibility of latter generations to recover and recapitulate the past they scarcely knew. And stories are contingent upon objects passed down by their parents and inevitably fragmentary. The centrality of objects in the recollections of the past brings our attention to the various particular objects in The Sun that connect subtly to the innermost world of the characters: the deceased husband’s dilapidated copy of What is to be Done?, a utopian novel on the subject of reforming the institutions of marriage and work by the Russian writer Nikolai Chernyshevsky; a stone house in the forest that holds items from an eclipsed era; and letters full of broken sentences and inexplicable jokes. These objects are posited at the boundary of reality and the realm of dream, blurring the line between the two.    

This is best seen in the pair of shoes that emerge directly from the mad mother’s dream: beside the shining rail tracks among flowers lies a pair of exquisitely embroidered cloth shoes in the shape of a fish. Next, the bare feet of a woman emerge from rippling water, and soon the feet are walking on a damp stone lane. As the camera shifts to focus on the pair of shoes in the woman’s hands, it gradually reveals the face of the woman to be the mad mother. These shots are fluidly bound together, with no distinction between dream and ‘real’ life, as if the mother retrieves the shoes directly from her oneiric world, as she tells her son: ‘I dreamed the shoes. When I opened my eyes, I saw them.’ When she stands in front of the a shop counter, the camera focuses on the hands on the table. Instead of those of the salesman or saleswoman, the hands on the other side of the table are a pair of infant’s hands, innocently knocking on the table as if impatiently waiting for the mother to pick up her shoes. The capricious joke Jiang Wen plays here immediately distances the scene from the buying-and-selling transactions of commodities. The pair of shoes is an inalienable possession with its own particularity, invested with the mother’s fantasies and innermost feelings. They are also inalienable because they are not exchangeable and replaceable commodities. After their mysterious disappearance, the son is never able to but a similar pair for his mother.

Again in Jiang Wen’s work, memory is intensely personal and history all but incomprehensible. This also relates, I think, to these comments he made about the film and its relationship to the (and his) mother-son dynamic.

At any rate, I thought this was interesting and wanted to share. As always, my other posts on my Jiang Wen-related reading are here under my “#Books on Baze” tag.

anonymous asked:

*Curtsies*. Hi duke, since literature is often remembered in eras/movements, I was wondering what you think about what characterises the literature of today the most? The first thing that comes to mind is YA fiction (utopian/dystopian novels and fantasy fiction mostly) but I suppose there's more to modern day literature than that, and multiple movements could comprise a literary era. So in a fairly roundabout way - how do you think we'll be remembered 8 decades from now?

*Curtsies* I have no idea. I don’t think any generation knows, in the moment, how it’s going to be remembered later. The problem with the literary identity of ‘now’ is that literature is more varied than it has ever been in the past. That alone may come to be the defining feature of lit in the 21st century: namely, that there is no defining feature. That’s the best answer I can give you.

The first lesson of business, and the last, is to use other men’s gifts and powers. If he looks about him at all, he sees that no man gets rich simply by his own labor, no matter how mighty a genius he is, and that, if you want to get rich, you must make other men work for you, and pay you for the privilege of doing so.
—  William Dean Howells, A Traveler from Altruria.