If you've finally gotten tired of reading the best space Westerns, turn nowhere else but to the beauty of a disembodied utopian society, which has been displayed in various works and genres throughout the years. A utopia is kind of like a social experiment, a place or community usually gated off from the outside world, wherein life is set to the highest of qualities by its citizenry, their governing rules, and the system by which they operate on a day to day basis. Some even consider America as an utopian experiment, but I think that's pushing it.
While some might be placed in the distant future, others are strikingly not so far off. Some are even set within the confines of space. Not every utopian society is as perfect or as beautiful as they may seem, which is what the following best utopian science fiction books seem to prove beyond a doubt.
Woman on the Edge of Time by Marge Piercy
Marge Priercy's Woman on the Edge of Time is a feminist classic, as well as being one of the best utopian science fiction books for its direct challenge of male and American perspectives.
The novel follows Connie Ramos in 1970, as she's constantly and unlawfully jailed for crimes she has not committed. While everyone wants to believe she's lost her mind, Connie has actually learned of a resourceful and powerful tool she alone commands: communication with the year 2137.
The Dispossessed by Ursula K. Le Guin
Detailing the effects following human kind's moving beyond earth, The Dispossessed portrays a brilliant physicist by the name of Shevek, who travels to Urras in search of finding, clarity, and overall refreshment from the isolated lives on his home world.
Packed with a multitude of symbolism and sci-fi tropes, Le Guin's timeless tale gives us exemplary insight into the nature of life, the complex structures associated with building it, in addition to the multiplicity of variables that may or may not keep it moving. The Dispossessed dares to see itself as a realistic image of the future, as we escape from Earth for a deeper meaning within the cosmos.
New York 2140 by Kim Stanley Robinson
Featured in a New Republic article titled "The New Utopians," Kim Stanley Robinson is identified as the contemporary science fiction genius, offering many different tales, like his color-coded Mars series, making this not only one of the best utopian science fiction books, but an overall best among upcoming titles in the genre.
New York 2140, however, takes a slight turn from space adventure, yet keeps those much needed futuristic details and makes a final stop at the utopian section, where one building in Madison Square struggles to survive amid a flooded New York City.
Childhood's End by Arthur C. Clark
Written by another king in the sci-fi genre, Childhood's End is a story about growing up after an all-out alien invasion that puts Earth into a utopia, changing the very culture and humanity of the entire planet.
Clarke's novel is one of the best utopian science fiction books, since it lightly challenges modern society and makes us see the ways in which we live as qualities for being human.
Player of Games by Iain M. Banks
Iain M. Banks, a king among sci-fi writers, gives us one of the best utopian science fiction books with The Player of Games, which is his second publication in the The Culture series.
The Player of Games describes Jernau Gurgeh, an exceptional board game player who becomes bored of his everyday mundane life in Chirak Orbital. As he travels space in search of something worthwhile, he stumbles upon the Empire of Azad, a planet where a lifelike and very complex board game is being developed. Jernau is not worried he'll lose, he's just unsure how he'll do against players who have studied the game their entire lives.
Looking Backward by Edward Bellamy
Looking Backward is an interesting take on the utopian sci-fi genre, because it paints a well-crafted plot with even more interesting characters, all of whom intersect in many different, yet wonderful ways.
Bellamy's story revolves around a time traveler by the name of Julian West, who is put to cryosleep in the 19th century and awoken in a socialist utopian society circa 2000. Written in 1888 and a top read then, Bellamy's Looking Backward will always remain as one of the best utopian science fiction books, for its ingenuity and surprising closeness to reality itself.
Herland by Charlotte Perkins Gilman
Published in 1915, Herland tells the story of one isolated community composed entirely of women. Sociology student Vandyck Jenkins and his two friends embark to find it among unchartered terrain, yet come much too close for comfort.
Herland is spellbindingly gripping. With a premise that's so thought provoking and realistic as an all-woman utopia, it's not hard to see how Charlotte Perkins Gilman's classic will remain as one of the best utopian science fiction books ever written.
The Giver by Lois Lowry
One of the most quintessential of all classic novels, still read in every grammar school to date, and still one of the best and shortest novels of all time, The Giver expertly draws on the elaborate utopia with imagination and fear at its heart.
The Giver is a tale about a society built upon no outside connections, like emotion or family, and is staged to read as if the town is a utopia, yet it becomes apparent how disastrously wrong this is as Jonas, 12-year-old citizen, is granted the title of 'Receiver.'
News from Nowhere by William Morris
Pioneer of socialist views in the craft of artistry, William Morris showcases true talent in News from Nowhere, which tells of the time traveler William Guest as he unknowingly plunges into the far future.
This socialist sci-fi classic is one of the best utopian science fiction books, because it adds many various levels of political, socialist, and artistic elements to its overall finished product.
The Sunken World by Stanton Coblentz
The Sunken World is rather an alteration from the normal when it comes to the best utopian science fiction books. It's more of a satire that plays at the mystery and wonder surrounding the lost city of Atlantis.
Commander Anton Harkness, submarine commander in the first World War, is caught in a whirlpool and no sooner crashes into Atlantis itself. He falls in love with one of the Atlantean women who saves him and his crew, yet they may not be as rescued as they once believed.
Uglies by Scott Westfield
Imagine a world populated by ugly people. At the age of 16, children are given the choice of having extreme cosmetic surgery, so as to make them pretty and allowed into the high-tech paradise associated with the look. After her friend runs away before turning 16, Tally herself begins to question just how pretty this new world really might be...
This young adult novel by Scott Westfield incites some internal questions about the self and how beauty could potentially operate in the future.
Andromeda: A Space-Age Tale by Ivan Yefremov
Since it was made for film in 1967 and was penned by one of the greatest sci-fi writers in literature history, Andromeda: A Space-Age Tale is one of the best utopian science fiction books.
Almost reminiscent of our very own reality, Andromeda pictures in amazing detail the steps through which science and technology weave together amid the Era of the Great Cycle, wherein Earth gains the possibility of communicating with the stars.
Ralph 124C 41+ by Hugo Gernsback
With a title that literally plays on words, meaning "one to foresee for one another," Ralph 124C 41+ is one of the most downright interesting, influential and incomparable of all the best utopian science fiction books. Not to mention, it's been around as a classic since 1911.
Gernsback's amazing utopian image is crafted around the premise of technology and what it can do, predicting such wonders as solar energy, television, synthetic foods, transcontinental air service, videophone, voice printing, and much more.