Edward Bellamy, Looking Backward: 2000-1887. Published in 1888, Bellamy’s novel imagining a perfect future society spawned a nationwide movement in America. (It also predicted electronic broadcasting and credit cards.) Bellamy’s plan for a ‘cloud palace for an ideal humanity’ also helped to inspire the garden city movement in the US and the UK. The best edition is Looking Backward 2000-1887 (Oxford World’s Classics).
Samuel Butler, Erewhon. This hugely inventive 1872 satire by the author of the anti-Victorian novel The Way of All Flesh is perhaps more accurately described as ‘anti-utopian’, though it follows the utopian narrative structure. The fictional land of Erewhon – almost ‘nowhere’ backwards – is the setting for this novel. Among the things satirised by Butler in this book is the rise of the machines, which Butler argues will evolve at an ever-faster rate – along the lines of Darwinian evolution – until the machines eventually overtake humans.
Thomas More's Utopia has spurred debate, reflection, and critical thinking since its original publication in the 16th Century. More's fictional island of Utopia provides an exploration of issues that shook him and his contemporaries and continue to be problematic in the modern day; the details of More's utopian society, such as the permissibility of euthanasia and comments on chastity in the priesthood, combine with proposals of coexisting varied religions to put forth a work that incorporates the totality of More's religious, sociological, and philosophical talents.
Aldous Huxley's Brave New World (1932) offers a projection of what life on earth might become in another 500 years if technology plays an increasingly dominant role and if government control of all aspects of human activity becomes absolute. Skyscrapers will become taller, factories will become more efficient, travel will be mainly by air, diseases will be virtually eliminated, and universal happiness will be provided through elaborate sports and entertainment programs and through a happiness pill called soma.
One of the first signs of renewed enlightenment in England, after the rude and bloody 15th century, was the appearance of a group of "humanist" scholars that flourished at Oxford and in London in the early decades of the 16th century, notably John Colet, William Latimer, Thomas Linacre, Reginald Pole, and Thomas More — a group that Erasmus pronounced both congenial and distinguished.
The application of scientific methods begins in the "Central London Hatchery and Conditioning Centre." There humans are bred in test tubes, transferred as they grow to larger jars, and nourished under controlled conditions until they reach the stage for hatching or "decanting." Even in the test tube stage they are marked for treatment that will produce the type of human desired. The types are labeled alpha, beta, gamma, delta, and epsilon, with certain plus or minus grades within each type. In infancy the individuals are scientifically "conditioned" to cultivate certain desires, to abhor certain things, to believe certain truisms, according to the kind of service for which they are designated. The conditioning takes the form of nutritional treatment, electric shock, screeching sirens, or hypnopaedia — that is, sleep-teaching.
Minority Report is a movie about a dystopian society in the year of 2054 in Washington D.C. The story is about a "Pre-Crime" police force unit, which revolves around three psychics, "Pre-Cogs", with special power to see into the future and predict crimes. Police manipulates these visions and arrest criminals before the offenses are even committed. Main protagonist, "Pre-Crime" Chief John Anderton (Tom Cruise) has the tables turned on him when he is accused of murder in the future. He must find a way to prove his innocence, for the thing he has yet to do.