There are times, moments in my day to day life, when I start to think that people have forgotten what Utopia is. It has, quite wrongly, been labeled as stagnant and even undesirable. Utopia is a state where a species has reached optimal potential, but it doesn't mean that the journey is over.
There's also a much greater variety of Utopias then one might initially expect. A Utopian story can feature one or more of these different flavors.
The flavors of Utopian stories are as follows:
1) Ecological Utopia - a story where humankind has found balance or unity with nature. Instead of exploiting or destroying natural resources. (Think Ursula K. Le Guin's The Word for World is Forest)
2) Economic Utopia - Also referred to as post-scarcity novels (Consider the Culture novels by Ian M. Banks) these Utopia stories feature economic equality, where poverty is minimized or money is abolished. There is plenty for anyone who seeks it. There's no rich and powerful and no widespread poverty.
3) Political Utopia - these are marked by a lack of corruption in political figures, by world or galactic peace. Problems are solved through diplomacy instead of war. Absolute Rulers, if any exist, are truly benevolent.
4) Spiritual Utopia - Not necessarily a story with religious overtones, this Utopia features a society that has set aside materialism in search for higher truths. Humanity (Or society of choice) strives for enlightenment, which becomes the main goal. These stories can deal with metaphysical questions, with meaning of life and death, etc.
5) Technological and/Or Scientific Utopia - In these stories a society has developed science and technology to expand beyond it's previous limitations. Science and technology solves problems, but that technology is not exploited. (Consider Isaac Asimov's collection of stories in I, Robot)
Of course, you can combine any or all of these as you wish. If a Utopia is ideal politically, is it ideal technologically or spiritually? If a Utopia is ideal economically, is it ideal ecologically? What kind of message do you want to send? Remember, a Utopia speaks to ideals, to potential being realized. They are optimistic promises that the faults of the past can and will be undone. Be hopeful, for hope is the fuel of dreamers and thinkers. It is the only language of those who wish to own the future.
Can you think of other kinds of Utopias? We'd love to hear your thoughts!