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  • Editors’ Message
  • Jennifer A. Wagner-Lawlor, Editor, Stephanie Peebles Tavera, Assistant Editor, A. Elisabeth Reichel, Book Review Editor, and Manuel Sousa Oliveira, Editorial Assistant

Welcome to Utopian Studies 34.3, the final issue for 2023. We want to start by thanking subscribers (and of course authors!) for their patience as this new editorial team has worked its way, together, through a new “look” and a new format for the journal. This issue reflects all these changes, with a balance of academic articles, an important Critical Forum, several Desire Lines contributions, Book Reviews, and Conference Briefings.

The first three stand-alone articles share an interest in the strategic variations of genre and medium that make utopian and dystopian studies so rich. In “No Exit: Death Drive, Dystopia, and the Long Winter of the American Dream in Harold Ramis’s The Ice Harvest,” author Eric Smith features director/actor Harold Ramis’s filmic utopia/dystopia “dyad,” Groundhog Day (1993) and The Ice Harvest (2005), which bookmark a long decade’s worth of economic and political change in the United States. Focusing particularly on “noir” aspects of the later film, Smith traces Ramis’s “strategic reactivation” of film noir as a medium-specific variant of Tom Moylan’s definition of the critical dystopia. The following article, “The Social Prison: Ursula K. Le Guin’s The Dispossessed as Post-Anarchist Critical Dystopia” by David Miller, also locates a “strategic reactivation,” this time through the deployment of tropes of carcerality. Positioning the novel’s preoccupation with imprisonment within anarchists’ “longstanding critical engagement” with prisons as state apparatus, Miller argues that Le Guin deftly recalls to us the utopian register of anarchism. Tracing dystopian themes and images of carceral justice through the novel, Miller demonstrates that Le Guin points the reader “toward an open-ended politics of continuous process” that might lead toward a freer society.

Peter Sinnema (re)introduces a “long-neglected” work of utopian fiction, Archibald Marshall’s Upsidonia (1915). Taking a cue from Karl Marx’s observation that “all facts and personages of great importance in world history occur the first time as tragedy, the second as farce,” Sinnema reads Marshall’s text as a farce, and tracks Marshall’s deployment of farce’s “essential maneuvers” of [End Page viii] return and repetition. In staging an “upsidonia” reversal of capitalist principles and relations as “serious buffoonery” (Marx), Marshall’s critique of contemporaneous capitalist formations, argues Sinnema, also places into relief an alternative political model—the one that Marx advanced. In short, this article explores a third formal or generic “strategy.”

The final two articles follow Sinnema’s in focusing on utopian literature’s engagement with economic thought. Signe Leth Gammelgaard brings to our attention a Swedish classic by Karin Boye, the dystopian novel Kallocain (1940), which few anglophone scholars are aware of. Beyond detailing the novel’s close engagement with contemporaneous economic thinkers, Gammelgaard also makes a case for our closer attention to interwar dystopian literature’s engagement with economic thought, including mathematics and statistics, a perspective too often overshadowed by the increasingly dark domain of European and global politics and political thought. Contextualizing Kallocain within the early theorizing of the Scandinavian welfare state, Gammelgaard sees this novel as exemplary of the kinds of critique “centered around the citizen’s emotional and interior lives in new planned communities.” Broadening the argument regarding the important role of economic thought and planning in dystopian writing during that period of political peril, Gammelgaard concludes that “new lines of critical inquiry regarding literary texts from the interwar period” are overdue.

Finally, Donald Morris investigates three likely more familiar texts from just before and after the turn of the century: Theodor Hertzka’s Freeland (1891), Theodor Herzl’s Altneuland: The Old New Land (1902), and H. G. Wells’s A Modern Utopia (1905). Morris charts these authors’ common interests in “easing” the effects of wealth disparities that cause social unrest—particularly the increase in rates of poverty. The three novels present alternative “scenarios” in which these disparities are recalibrated, as it were, using a similar set of tools: education, universal healthcare, social safety nets, fiscal transparency, confiscatory estate taxes, and...