I have always been an avid reader of utopian novels. Not necessarily those that advertised themselves as such, but the small utopias, of people doing good, of relationships going right, of a happiness possible in the real world. And I don't mean a happy end, but a happy continuation and a description of how this might be achieved despite the obvious difficulties. A wise book to learn from.
Kim Stanley Robinson said that "[a]nyone can do a dystopia these days just by making a collage of newspaper headlines, but utopias are hard". This is true of any kind of book. It is easy to write a postapocalyptic world, and it is easy to write an abusive marriage. But it is very difficult to write a happy marriage – and make it a suspenseful book worth reading. And it is difficult to write a book where the problems that our world faces today are resolved, as Robinson has tried in his Science in the Capital trilogy, and make it a fun read.
But I am sick and tired of all the negativity in the novels I read. I want something to give me hope and the will and courage to go on and try and do better with my life. As Robinson continues, utopian fiction is "important, because we need to imagine what it might be like if we did things well enough to say to our kids, we did our best, this is about as good as it was when it was handed to us, take care of it and do better. Some kind of narrative vision of what we’re trying for as a civilization."
So why don't we write utopias? That is, why don't we write books that show us how to do things better? How to be better persons both in how we relate to other people and in how we take care of the world.
Do readers not want to read this? Wouldn't it sell? Or are authors unable to write it, because they don't know the answers to the problems, because they are afraid of losing sales by being political, because they don't know how to tell happiness in a non-boring way?
How do you write a genre fiction about good people successfully living in good relationships and leading a good life in a good world, without it being boring or preachy and still full of suspense and thrill?
How do you make a utopia work?