Just Utopias New Year news!

As we start 2024 I have Just Utopias New Year news for you. News of a new publication, a new start behind the scenes for this website, and a new book of the month.

New publication

Just Utopias New Year News Item 1: Review of "Dystopias and Utopias on Earth and Beyond" (cover pictured)

My review of the essay collection Dystopias and Utopias on Earth and Beyond: Feminist Ecocriticism of Science Fiction has been published in sci fi journal Extrapolation. If you have institutional library access to Extrapolation check it out here. Otherwise, you can read all about it over here.

A little bit solarpunk…

Just Utopias has moved to a new server powered by renewable energy. Apologies if you noticed a couple of days of downtime during the move. We are now up and running and powered by the sun and wind.

Book of the month: Sorrowland by Rivers Solomon

This month’s book choice is Sorrowland by Rivers Solomon. Solomon is author of The Deep and faer work often deals with the legacy of the transatlantic slave trade and the treatment of Black bodies. This interests me because I think this is exactly what the genre of utopia needs to grapple with. There’s only so much good that can be done imagining cosy sci fi futures where discrimination no longer exists. (I’ve just finished reading Becky Chambers’ A Psalm for the Wild-Built, does it show?)

Solomon is working through it all and in Sorrowland it results in something gothic and dark. It’s not a lovely dream of utopia at all, and yet I think it is more utopian for it. It is doing the work of dismantling the way we think, examining how our world has been built on those thoughts to the detriment of Black, indigenous, queer, female and non-binary people, and considering how it could be otherwise.

By way of a plot synopsis… Vera, 15 years old and seven months pregnant, escapes a cult and births her twins in the woods. After a few years raising her children away from society, she can no longer deny her body is going through some strange transformations. It becomes time to leave the forest and face both the future and her past. Themes include the Gothic, queer writing, race, Black utopianism and magical realism.

If you would like to join an in person discussion of the book, you can do so with the Utopian Book Collective in Bristol, UK on Monday 5th February. Details here. Otherwise, the comments are open for discussion below.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this edition of Just Utopias New Year News, stay tuned for further updates.