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R.T. Ester: The Utopia of Us Anthology. Pre-Order Available Now!

Cover of the author R.T. Ester
R.T. Ester 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 R.T. Ester and the story "Engine – The Blast – Antiques for Okras".

About the author:

Originally from Nigeria, R.T. ESTER moved to the United States in 1998 and, catching the creative bug early on, studied art with a focus on design. While working full time as a graphic designer, he began to write speculative fiction in his spare time and since then, has had stories published in Interzone and Clarkesworld. His debut novel, The Ganymedan, is due out Fall 2025 from Solaris Books.

R.T. on the story:

In Yevgeny Zamyatin’s We, the spaceship Integral is being built with the intent of spreading the ideology of the United State to societies elsewhere in the cosmos. The Integral exists as an edifice of the United State in both a physical and societal sense. It is being built using the same mathematical principles that inspired the table of hours, which in turn is integral to the functioning of the United State. Wherever the Integral makes landfall, its goal, in a way, is to reshape the society it finds there in its own image.

The titular engine in ‘Antiques for Okras’ pulls the story into the realm of faster-than-light travel and, in doing this, attempts to make a point about the society we have now and the impossible edifice of capitalism, which in its neoliberal phase, seems intent on accelerating its contradictions. The unnamed narrator, tending to ramble in a manner that mirrors D-503’s journal entries, recounts her life in a time when the stars are no longer visible and chickens have begun to lay okras in addition to eggs. Central to both anomalies is an engine built before her time to power a ship that would take its billionaire owner to the stars, but at a cost that ends up reshaping the world it leaves behind both physically and at the societal level.

Any technology will reflect the society that built it, and, to varying degrees, its usage will reshape society in turn. This includes the society that built it and the places that technology

and its byproducts are exported to. In Zamyatin’s We, the Integral is valued for both its function and its symbolism as an integrating force; something that will accelerate the development of societies it comes in contact with until they become hard to distinguish from the society that produced it. From a techno-determinist standpoint, it is similar to the monolith from 2001: A Space Odyssey in its ability to transform a society by simply coming in contact with it. The determinism of ‘Antiques for Okras’ is evident in the crises that stem from the engine’s construction. We never know whether or not the ship it powered reached its destination, but we see its society-altering effects back home, and in the end, we see a yearning for a new type of engine that will reflect a new and more inclusively utopian society.

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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