Science Fiction As Form Of Utopian Thought

by David E Romm

Lawrence Watt-Evan's story about his father's class reminds me of my own experience. I taught a class at the University of Minnesota entitled "Science Fiction As Form Of Utopian Thought". At first, I had a lot of students crowding the room. When it became apparent that it was going to be a tough class, most of them disappeared. The books they studied (and wrote papers on) were "Woman On The Edge of Time" by Marge Piercy (to illustrate that actions have consequences), "Venus Plus X" by Theodore Sturgeon (to illustrate that not everyone likes the same thing), "Triton" by Samuel R. Delany (to illustrate that people are different and have different wants and needs), and Plato's "Republic" (to go back and give historical context to the discussion, and to show how utopias change). A non-standard view of utopias, perhaps.

As I told the students the first day, the final (and 50% of the grade) was to create their own utopia. I got some very interesting papers. So I'll ask this of readers of The Ethical Spectacle:

1. What kind of world would you like to live in?

2. What elements of your current life would you change?

3. What elements of your current life would you keep?

4. How would you get there from here?

5. Discuss the concept: "In order to created a utopia, you must live in it."

6. Who else would consider your world utopian?

7. Who would consider your world dystopian?

This is an exercise for the reader. Send answers to the Spectacle, or keep them to yourself. Spelling doesn't count, unless that's part of your utopian culture. Always wear seat belts. Contains less than .05% peanuts. Mandatory where prohibited by the Void.