No man any more has any care for the morrow, either for himself or his children, for the nation guarantees the nurture, education, and comfortable maintenance of every citizen from the cradle to the grave.
—Edward Bellamy, Looking Backward

Looking Backward: 2000–1887, by Edward Bellamy (1850–1898) is far and away the most popular, most influential utopia novel ever written, and also one of the worst. In its endless reprintings, it has sold over a million copies and been translated into twenty languages. Soon after its appearance in 1888, some hundred books were published either attacking Bellamy’s vision of Boston in the year 2000 or defending it. About half of these books were utopias with such titles as Looking Ahead, Looking Beyond, Looking Within, Looking Forward, all even more preposterous than Bellamy’s.

Wi ...