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Literature / News from Nowhere

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News from Nowhere is a utopian novel published in 1890 by William Morris.

The narrator, William Guest, falls asleep and finds himself in the 21st century, in an idyllic agrarian society created following a socialist revolution.

News from Nowhere was written as a riposte to Edward Bellamy's Looking Backward, a similarly structured Author Tract about a possible socialist future, but one which Morris hated for its utilitarian drabness.

This novel contains examples of:

  • Alliterative Title: News from Nowhere.
  • All Just a Dream: Ambiguously.
  • Arcadia: Morris's vision of a future following a socialist revolution is this.
  • Author Avatar: The narrator is clearly this.
  • Author Tract: News from Nowhere is really just a means for Morris to describe his vision of a socialist utopia.
  • Earthy Barefoot Character: Ellen.
  • Exty Years from Publication: Played with. William Guest travels from 1889 to 2002, so neither the destination year nor the time gap is a round number — but it's the same time gap used in Looking Backward, which was written a couple of years earlier and set in the rounded year 2000.
  • Fish out of Temporal Water: The narrator.
  • Grumpy Old Man: Exactly one character is dissatisfied with the utopia: a grumpy old man who is sure that things must have been more interesting in the old days that he's read about, when there was still economic competition.
  • Hand Wave: At one point the narrator sees cargo barges driven by an unknown power, which one of the locals describes as "force-barges." The narrator decides to let the matter slide instead of asking how they work.
  • Meaningful Name: William Guest, who spends most of the novel as a guest in the utopian society.
  • Mr. Exposition: Most of the characters are this to some extent, but especially Old Hammond, who spends several chapters just sitting and telling Guest about the utopia's history and workings.
  • Solar Punk: A utopian novel from the late 19th century in which an author-insert character named William Guest travels to the year 2002 to find Britain transformed into a decentralized, egalitarian, and ecological paradise where the government has been turned into a dung market, people administer their communities through participatory democracy, war and poverty are distant memories, and even money no longer exists.
  • Time Travel: The framing device, as the narrator falls asleep and wakes up in a utopian socialist future.
  • Utopia: And the title is a nod to the original ambiguous coinage of the word, which could mean either "Good Place" or "No Place".
  • The Watson: The narrator's role in the story is to be shown around and have everything explained to him.