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Anna Orridge: The Utopia of Us Anthology. Pre-Order Available Now!

Cover of the author Anna Orridge
Anna Orridge on The Utopia of Us

The Utopia of Us anthology is now available for pre-order! Editor Teika Marija Smits has brought together 15 incredible writers and their stories, directly inspired by We by Yevgeny Zamyatin.

It is a charity anthology, and given Russia's current war with Ukraine, royalties from the book will be donated to the Ukraine Humanitarian Appeal.

If you pre-order directly from the Luna website, you will also receive a discount. Check it out!

Today we'd like to introduce you to Anna Orridge and the story "Bittersweet Feast – The Persistence of Swine – To Savour Dawn".

About the author:

ANNA ORRIDGE lives in London and works in the field of education and sustainability. Her short fiction has appeared in Mslexia, the Gothic Nature Journal and the anthologies Rock Band and Rewired, published by Ghost Orchid Press. Her essay, ‘Bihexuality in The Craft’ is published in the Off Limits Press anthology Divergent Terror. Her most recent story ‘The Moon Doth Shine’ won the 2023 XR Solarpunk showcase. Go to @orridge_anna on Twitter or on Bluesky to discover more about her creative work and activism.

Anna on the story:

My first encounter with We was at university, 23 years ago. As students, we were asked to analyse the text alongside the classic silent era film Metropolis, considering their influence on other twentieth century dystopias. What most struck me at the time was its depiction of rationed romance and sex, and the failure of the characters to fully control their yearning for something wilder and deeper in their emotional lives.

When I re-read it in my forties, I found one particular, fairly minor element of the worldbuilding struck me – the depiction of food. It is mentioned, almost off-hand, that sustenance in OneState is all made of petroleum. This seems absurd to a twentyfirst century reader, but at the time We was written, petroleum products were becoming ever more ubiquitous, their applications seemingly limitless, so it would have been far more plausible.

Since food is central to the identity and vibrancy of so many cultures, it makes sense that a totalitarian regime would seek to suppress it as a form of expression and enjoyment, alongside the arts. As a sustainability professional, I’m painfully aware that many of the fertilisers our increasingly fragile food system is dependent on are synthetic. Zamyatin almost got it right.

My story is set in the world of We, exploring in a little more depth at how food could be stripped of its sensory pleasures, and what that might do to those deprived of that vital element of human experience. I hope you enjoy it.

TOC of The Utopia of Us
TOC of The Utopia of Us

More on the anthology:

The year 2024 marks the centenary of the first publication of We, the direct inspiration for George Orwell’s 1984, and many other novels, such as Ursula K. Le Guin’s The Dispossessed and Kurt Vonnegut’s Player Piano.

Strikingly, the Russian novel was first published in English, and in the US. Indeed, it wasn’t until 1988 that it was published in the author’s native country. Clearly, this was a book that the people in power in the Soviet Union wanted erased. Yet it ushered in a new genre – the future dystopia – and in doing so gave birth to the many dystopian novels and films which have found their way into our popular culture.

Setting aside what its publication history says about Russia’s past, it also happens to be a beautifully written and page-turning novel, and one that is still currently relevant since it speaks to the very heart of what it means to be human. In short, the centenary of this wonderful novel should be, and needs to be, celebrated, and how better to do that than by a globally minded, independent press, publishing an anthology of science fiction stories inspired by We?


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