A Modern Utopia

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To this planet "out beyond Sirius" the Owner of the Voice and the botanist are translated, imaginatively, "in the twinkling of an eye . . . We should scarcely note the change. Not a cloud would have gone from the sky." Their point of entry is on the slopes of the Piz Lucendro in the Swiss Alps. The adventures of these two characters are traced through eleven chapters. Little by little they discover how Utopia is organized. It is a world with "no positive compulsions at all . . . for the adult Utopian—unless they fall upon him as penalties incurred." The Owner of the Voice and the botanist are soon required to account for their presence. When their thumbprints are checked against records in "the central index housed in a vast series of buildings at or near Paris," both discover they have doubles in Utopia. They journey to London to meet them, and the Owner of the Voice's double is a member of the Samurai, a voluntary order of nobility that rules Utopia. "These samurai form the real body of the State." Running through the novel as a foil to the main narrative is the botanist's obsession with an unhappy love affair back on Earth. The Owner of the Voice is annoyed at this undignified and unworthy insertion of earthly affairs in Utopia, but when the botanist meets the double of his beloved in Utopia the violence of his reaction bursts the imaginative bubble that has sustained the narrative and the two men find themselves back in early-twentieth-century London.

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