Dystopia and utopia

Introduction

It is important to understand the terms utopia and dystopia when studying science fiction, as many science fiction works touch upon one or both of these concepts. Specifically, science fiction settings typically feature a society (or societies) that is either utopian or dystopian when compared to the contemporary society of the science fiction author.

Utopia

The word ‘utopia’ was invented by Sir Thomas Moore in 1516. It is formed from a combination of two Ancient Greek words, and literally translated it means ‘no-place’. It was originally used to refer to any kind of fictional society, but over time it gained a more specific, positive meaning.

Today, the word ‘utopia’ is used to refer to fictional societies that are significantly better than the world we currently live in, or even perfect. Typical utopian societies might feature elements such as complete social equality, plenty...

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