Visions of Utopia Essay

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Humans have grasped at the concept of "Utopia" for millennia. In his editorial for the September 1983 issue of Isaac Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine, editor Isaac Asimov provided a concise history of utopian literature. According to Asimov, the history of utopian literature began with religious tales of past golden ages or future paradises. (Asimov gives the examples of the Genesis story of creation and expulsion from the Garden of Eden as an example of the first and the eleventh chapter of Isaiah, which contains the famous line "the lion shall lay down with the calf," as an example of the second.) Utopian literature was first presented in a more scientifically designed (as opposed to Edenic or messianic) form by Plato, with The…show more content…
Asimov also describes a more modern offshoot of the Utopian genre, the dystopian novel. Asimov claims that this method of "attacking societies in a more direct fashion," as he puts it, arose because the more indirect Utopian satiric novels are, "by their very nature, dreadfully dull." (Although this seems to be a position which could be argued against, Asimov offers no evidence to support it.) Asimov claims that dystopian novels are "intrinsically more interesting than Utopias," and, hence, better tools for attacking evils in a particular society. (Asimov 7-8) The prefix "dys-" means "abnormal" or "defective" in Greek. (Asimov 8) So, the dystopian horror is that something designated as "bad" by a particular author may find its ultimate expression in a particular society. In modern novels, this usually, in some way, involves the use of science or technology as contributing to this ultimate "evil." (Asimov 9) To examine the possibility of an actual Utopian society existing, then, one must also examine the possibility of the existence of an actual dystopian society. If Utopia is to be achieved, dystopia must, of necessity, be avoided. The possibilities of dystopia, in their many various forms, have been examined by many highly talented authors and intelligent thinkers. Most of the dystopian novels we have considered this term seem to consider two factors vitally important in the bringing-forth (as Heidegger might term

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