...of course, utopia. And, like most things life - you can't appreciate one without the other. So, here's a bit of a history lesson on utopian societies in - of all places - Indiana.
I was born and raised in Indiana. A rather unlikely spot for a Utopia, you might think. However, not just one, but two of America's great utopian communities were resident in a town a mere 150 miles from where I grew up and also from where I currently live.
In 1814, Johann Georg Rapp and his followers, known as the Harmony Society - Separatists from the German Lutheran Church - purchased land in southwestern Indiana on the Wabash River. For ten years they lived and worked in what was considered to be one of the most prosperous and beautiful towns in the area. Then, they decided to move back to Pennsylvania, so they sold the town to Robert Owen.
The Rapp version of utopia was founded on the ethic of work & save (from the Swabian area of Germany) and work & pray (from the Benedictine's rule.) Owen, however, had a different utopian dream. His was based on complete equality (there aren't even markers on their graves), free education, the abolition of social classes and no personal wealth.
Although Owen's "utopia" lasted only for two years, many scientists and educators came to New Harmony during that time and following the end of the communal era (1827) Owen turned to geology. The area became one of the most important geological training centers in the United States.
I can personally say, that visiting New Harmony is a fabulous adventure - especially when one keeps in mind what was going on there at one time. There are a couple of labyrinths to walk and a very cool river to watch and Indian mounds and all kinds of "feelings" to absorb and have come out at some later date in a novel.
I find places like New Harmony fascinating. And, I love going back in history to see what people were thinking and doing - especially in relationship to future things. I plan on doing some reading of "old" science/dystopian/speculative fiction & will report back here on what I discover!