bacward

LOOKING BACKWARD | EDWARD BELLAMY
First published: 1888 | Takes place: 2000
Bellamy's future Boston is an awe-inspiring, if vague, dreamworld. It's so clean it sparkles. Landmarks — which ones, Bellamy does not specify — remain the same, but, Bellamy assures us, everything else looks completely different. Rather than rigid city blocks, enormous public buildings stand in clusters, each with its own public park teeming with fountains and statues.

Instead of neighborhoods, Boston is divided into wards. There are no stores or banks, since socialist utopias don't need 'em. Instead, each ward contains a distribution center (housed within a gigantic, staggeringly well-designed public building) in walking distance of each citizen; it connects to other distribution centers via an intricate system of pneumatic tubes. Giant mechanized umbrellas cover sidewalks when it rains.

In Bellamy's socialist utopia, newspapers and magazines wouldn't be imperiled: the public would decide what periodicals they want to see published, appoint an editor, pay for a year's subscription in advance, and voila: print media lives on forever!

— Eugenia Williamson

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