Yesterday's Tomorrows
Darn the wheel of the world! Where is the reverse gear?
- Jack London


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The Last Man
by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley (1826)


A futuristic story of tragic love and of the gradual extermination of the human race by plague, The Last Man is Mary Shelley's most important novel after Frankenstein. Although a critical and commercial failure, with intriguing portraits of Percy Bysshe Shelley and Lord Byron, the novel offers a vision of the future that expresses a reaction against the ideals of Romanticism.





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The Coming Race
by Edward Bulwer-Lytton (1871)


A fascinating vision of a shadowy underworld populated by strange and beautiful creatures who closely resemble the angels described in Christian lore. These beings, known as Vril-ya, live underground, but are planning soon to claim the surface of the earth as their own, destroying humankind in the process. It has been suggested by some critics that the book is based on occult truth.





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Erewhon
by Samuel Butler (1872)


After a series of near-mishaps, a traveler stumbles into a place utterly unknown to him, only to be jailed for being penniless. Slowly learning the language and gaining the confidence of his hosts, he comes to know their strange ways and their stranger ideas and institutions. The 'Book of Machines' explores artificial intelligence in a scathing satire of the Industrial Revolution.





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After London
by Richard Jefferies (1885)


An early example of post-apocalyptic fiction and the 'back to nature' ethos. After some sudden and unspecified catastrophe has depopulated England, the countryside reverts to nature, and the few survivors to a quasi-medieval way of life. Split into two parts, the first about the fall of civilisation and the second - Wild England - an adventure story set many years later.





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Looking Backward
by Edward Bellamy (1888)


Bestselling novel about a young Boston gentleman who is mysteriously transported from the nineteenth to the twenty-first century, from a world of war and want to one of peace and plenty. This brilliant vision became the blueprint of socialist utopia that stimulated some of the greatest thinkers of our age, giving rise to over 162 'Bellamy Clubs' in the United States alone.





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News from Nowhere
by William Morris (1890)


A visitor from the 19th century encounters a decentralised and humane socialist future. Drawing on the work of John Ruskin and Karl Marx, Morris's book is not only an evocative statement of his egalitarian convictions, but also a distinctive contribution to the utopian tradition. The novel reflects Morris's ambition to transform the relationship between humankind and the natural world.





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The Purple Cloud
by M.P. Shiel (1901)


Beginning with the end of the world, the chosen man tells of being the first man to reach the North Pole where he finds terror of a purple cloud, which leads to a last man and woman on Earth scenario. The book was lauded by both H.G. Wells and H.P. Lovecraft and formed the basis of the controversial 1959 film 'The World, the Flesh and the Devil', starring Harry Belafonte and Inger Stevens.





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The Iron Heel
by Jack London (1908)


A dystopian novel about the terrible oppressions of an American oligarchy at the beginning of the 20th Century, and the struggles of a socialist revolutionary movement. Bad boy socialist and white supremacist Jack London was famous for his Klondike gold rush novels 'The Call of the Wild' and 'White Fang', and he is considered one of the earliest writers to use science fictional devices.





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Herland
by Charlotte Perkins Gilman (1915)


Feminist and social reformist Charlotte Perkins Gilman originally published 'Herland' in magazine installments, finally making it to book form in 1979. It describes an isolated utopian society composed entirely of women who reproduce via parthenogenesis (asexual reproduction). The result is an ideal social order, free of war, conflict and domination. The male reaction was as one might expect.


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