The future is already here, it's just...

Lessons from Utopias

Governance insights from sci-fi

I have always loved stories about the future. From curling up with my mum to watch Star Trek: The Next Generation in the 90s, to binge watching The Expanse on maternity leave, I have been a bit of a geek for most of my life.

Sci fi, speculative fiction, and fantasy stories are deep acts of imagination about how the world, and people in it, could be different. Part of what can feel hard about living in this current version of reality – in the UK, in 2023 – is that the intersecting systems of injustice are all so pervasive that they leave little space for imagining, let alone building, different ways of being.

I gain hope from the fact that I know there are thousands of people out there working towards justice and liberation. But I also realise that I get a lot of my hope and optimism from imagining the types of change I have read about, watched and luxuriated in in my leisure time for almost my whole life.

So many smart, expansive thinkers have created worlds for us to explore and this blog series will be my attempt at looking at those worlds through a governance lens, and wondering: what can we (here, now) learn?

I’m not going to be analysing the stories, or dwelling on the literary merits, or otherwise, of these books. I’ll be looking at how the societies in the books are organised, how people work together to get things done, how power is dealt with and the role of individuals vs groups. I’ll be reflecting a little on what we can learn about social change from these books and maybe even suggesting some thinking prompts.

I’m going to start with some books that I have loved and that have expanded my thinking about what’s possible in different ways, and then move unscientifically forward into things I haven’t read (or watched) yet.

First up: Woman on the Edge of Time