Jonathan Swift, Gulliver’s Travels. In this work of 1726, which was an immediate bestseller, Lemuel Gulliver actually visits four different fantasy worlds, but the one that’s especially interesting here is the world of the Houyhnhnms, horses endowed with reason and speech, and a world in which humans are yobbish Yahoos flinging their muck around. Gulliver interprets the Houyhnhnms’ society as a utopian world, though whether Swift is inviting us to agree, or to distance ourselves from Gulliver, remains a contentious point.
The Renaissance age has been styled "this brave new world" by many historians, viewing it as a radically new and brilliant development in Western civilization. That view, however, is not universal, some scholars quarreling with the claim that it was new, representing a great change from the late Middle Ages, and other scholars doubting its brilliance. Debate seems perpetual over the nature and the importance of the Renaissance; nevertheless, it can scarcely be denied that the outlook and the life style of Western people were greatly affected by certain achievements of the period; namely, the invention of printing, the development of gunpowder, and the improvement of navigational instruments and ship designs. Somewhat later than those developments, but still important contributions of the Renaissance, were the Copernican revolution in astronomy and the development of the telescope by Galileo. All of these factors not only produced substantial changes in people's lives, but they also generated a charged atmosphere of excitement and curiosity throughout Europe.
Sir Thomas More, Utopia. This 1516 work is the book that gave us the word ‘utopia’ – from the Greek meaning ‘no-place’, though with a pun on eu-topos, ‘good place’, implying that such an ideal society is too good to be true. More’s island utopia has variously been interpreted as a sincere description of the perfect world and as a satirical work poking fun at the world’s excessive idealists. Mind you, given that in Utopia adulterers are taken into slavery, and repeat offenders are executed, it makes you wonder whether More’s Utopia isn’t more dystopian than anything…
His most recent book, a New York Times bestseller, is "Manhunt: The Ten Year Search for bin Laden, from 9/11 to Abbottabad." The book is being translated into nine languages and HBO has produced a theatrical release documentary based upon it. The film, for which Bergen is the executive producer, was in the Sundance Film 2013 competition and won the Emmy award for Best Documentary. The Washington Post named "Manhunt" one of the best non-fiction books of 2012 and The Guardian named it one of the key books on Islamist extremism. The Sunday Times (UK) named it the best current affairs book of 2012 and The Times (UK) named it one of the best non-fiction books of 2012. The book was awarded the Overseas Press Club Cornelius Ryan award for best non-fiction book of 2012 on international affairs.
Reviewers were especially pleased with the emotional experience of playing the game, particularly with other players. Christian Donlan of Eurogamer described it as a "non-denominational religious experience" that, with the addition of another player, moves beyond metaphors and becomes a "pilgrimage" to the player. A reviewer writing for Edge magazine said the emotional arc of the game hits with "occasionally startling power", while Patrick Shaw from Wired said the game made him feel a "wide range of emotions... wonder, fear, even sadness". Miller said all three times he played the game, "each time, without fail, individual moments... managed to give me goosebumps, and those moments have remained on my mind for weeks afterward". Joel Gregory of PlayStation Official Magazine praised the game's story for being open to the player's interpretation, leaving an ambiguity that drew him in. The addition of an unnamed second player was described by Donlan as brilliant and as a "master stroke", and Edge said it made for "a more absorbing, more atmospheric experience".
The Islands of Wisdom (1922) by Alexander Moszkowski – In the novel various utopian and dystopian islands that embody social-political ideas of European philosophy are explored. The philosophies are taken to their extremes for their absurdities when they are put into practice. It also features an "island of technology" which anticipates mobile telephones, nuclear energy, a concentrated brief-language that saves discussion time and a thorough mechanization of life.
Every individual is employed according to his classification — in an office, a factory, a hatchery, on a farm, or flying a helicopter taxi. A great variety of entertainment is provided for after-working hours — sports like electromagnetic golf, Riemann-surface tennis, and centrifugal bumble-puppy. There are lively nightclubs and "feelies," movies that provide accompanying scents and that also stimulate appropriate tactile sensations. Every evening seems to end with going to bed with someone of the opposite sex. Sexual relations are completely promiscuous. "Everyone belongs to everyone" is one of the clichés drummed into the consciousness through conditioning. There is no such thing as a marriage. Contraceptives are provided by the government to make sure that people will not interfere with the test tube method of producing children. Sex is purely for sport.
Thomas More lived from 1477 to 1535. He was convicted of treason and beheaded in 1535 for refusing to accept King Henry VIII as head of the Church of England. Utopia, written in Latin, was published in 1516. It was translated to English by Ralph Robinson in 1551. The translation by Clarence Miller was published by Yale University Press in 2001. [This review is based on the Miller translation.]
Sir Francis Bacon, New Atlantis. Although he never completed it, this utopian novel by one of the great philosophers of the Elizabethan and Jacobean eras is well worth reading. It was published posthumously in 1627 and outlines a perfect society, Bensalem (its name suggesting Jerusalem) founded on peace, enlightenment, and public spirit. Available in Three Early Modern Utopias Thomas More: Utopia / Francis Bacon: New Atlantis / Henry Neville: The Isle of Pines (Oxford World’s Classics) along with More’s Utopia and another early utopian novel, Henry Neville’s The Isle of Pines.