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Literature / Sultanas Dream

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A 1905 Speculative Fiction short story about a feminist utopia by Rokeya Sakhawat Hossain. The narrator, Sultana, meets with someone who resembles her friend Sister Sara who gives Sultana a tour of a Lady Land where traditional Indian gender roles are flipped.

It can be read here.


This short story provides examples of:

  • An Aesop: Education is what gives women social power.
  • All Just a Dream: At the end, Sultana wakes up in the armchair she fell asleep in.
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  • Flying Car: A variety that can be assembled quickly and flies using hydrogen balloons.
  • Gender Flip: The men live in purdahnote  and keep house and the women work outside the home.
  • Higher Education Is for Women: In a way- once women are allowed to go to college, they come up with the technologies that allow for solar power/collection and atmospheric water collection, and later develop the solar technology the Lady Land uses to defend itself. A major moral of the story is that education is essential for equality and social advancement.
  • In Harmony with Nature: With no worries about irrigation, there are Ghibli Hills everywhere.
  • Lady Land: Quite possibly the Trope Maker. Men exist, but live in seclusion.
  • Matriarchy: Men live in purdah and women work outside the home. There is also a queen.
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  • Perfect Pacifist People: The utopia is mostly crime free, with the few offenders sent into exile rather than executed.
  • Short Story
  • Solar-Powered Magnifying Glass: The utopia has harnessed solar power, and uses a non-lethal form of this trope to defend from invading armies.
  • Tactical Withdrawal: After a long and grueling war, the army is brought back, where the female scholars have the men go into zenananote  to recover. They end up staying there after the war is over after finding that they enjoy it.
  • Uncanny Valley: Sultana initially believes her guide is a friend, Sister Sara, but realizes that whoever it is, she just appears like Sara but is not Sara. This is likely a case of A Form You Are Comfortable With.
  • Utopia: The Lady Land is a world of post-scarcity powered by solar, with atmospheric water collectors that have allowed for sprawling gardens and nature. There is little crime, child marriage is banned and education is available to all, the workday is two hours, the religion is one of love and peace, and there is no war.
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  • Weather-Control Machine: The atmospheric water collectors mean that there is no uncontrolled rain.


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