Through an insightful, literary treatment of various utopian visions, Peter Hawkins examines the human urge for widespread happiness, while pondering our consistent failure to produce it. Hawkins draws from biblical notions of paradise, Plato's Republic, More's Utopia, Bellamy, Orwell, Le Corbusier, B. F. Skinner, and Walker Percy, locating in each the usefulness and accountability of the Utopian impulse.
Utopias function most effectively as fictions that, since they do not actually exist, are literally "nowhere." A fictional utopian "nowhere" allows us to laugh at our imperfect selves and to question our situation in a fallen world. To what extent do we submit to social authority, assert our individual freedom, depend on divine guidance and intervention, determine the good for ourselves or for others, and to what extent do we recognize our lives as resting beyond our control? These are the questions fictional utopias prod us to address as we struggle to advance our situation toward the "nowhere" of utopian perfection.