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Tim Major: The Utopia of Us Anthology. Pre-Order Available Now!

Cover of the author Tim Major
Tim Major 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 Tim Major and the story "Production – Pristine White – Pale Green".

About the author:

TIM MAJOR is a writer and freelance editor from York. His books include Snakeskins and Hope Island, three Sherlock Holmes novels, short story collection And the House Lights Dim and a monograph about the 1915 silent crime film, Les Vampires. His novel Jekyll & Hyde: Consulting Detectives will be published in September 2024. Tim’s short fiction has appeared in numerous magazines and anthologies, and has been selected for Best of British Science Fiction, Best of British Fantasy and The Best Horror of the Year. Find out more at

Tim on the story:

I’m sure I’m not alone in having discovered Yevgeny Zamyatin’s We only after encountering some of the stories it went on to inspire. For me, Fritz Lang’s 1927 German expressionist film Metropolis came first, initially as static images in the books about SF I read as a child. Orwell’s 1984 was next, then Huxley’s Brave New World. When I finally came to read We, only a handful of years ago, the echoes of these other works were inextricable from Zamyatin’s text.

As it represented my first exposure, it seemed natural to draw on Lang’s Metropolis as part of my response to We. When I first become fascinated with those static images of Lang’s model city I saw no connotations of dystopia, only a perfect machine. This aspect would later be reinforced by a visit to the Deutsche Kinemathek museum in Berlin, where the meticulous attention afforded to the Metropolis city model omits all negative connotations.

It occurs to me that most dystopias are actually utopian for a certain class of people within the story – but you can also step outside of the work to view the idea of the dystopian city as a sort of clockwork perfection. Considering the city as a fiction – or as a three-dimensional model – allows consideration of the pleasure of its creator in building it. So, I planned to write about a filmmaker responsible for creating a city like the one in Zamyatin’s novel. My filmmaker would invest themselves entirely in the act of creation and would adore what they had made.

I wanted my filmmaker to work independently outside the studio system, which led me back to earlier filmmakers, particularly Alice Guy, who was perhaps the first female filmmaker and one of the first filmmakers to create narrative cinematic tales. Despite her incredible output whilst also acting as head of production for Gaumont between 1896 and 1906, her successful career was interrupted due to her marriage to Herbert Blaché. After emigrating to the USA they founded Solax, the largest pre-Hollywood studio in America; while Guy continued to direct films, Blaché was made its president before their relationship deteriorated. Nowadays Guy is commonly referred to by her married name Guy-Blaché, despite her most important work dating from a time before her marriage, when she was free to work however she wished.

The conditions in which the filmmaker in my story works echo Georges Méliès, the godfather of SF filmmaking. To ensure adequate light levels Méliès built a glass-walled studio on his property in Montreuil, which directly inspired the studio in my story. There are other influences in the story, too, all relating to my childhood love of SF. For example, the detail about pale green appearing whiter than white is inspired by the fact that the original TARDIS console in Doctor Who was painted green to appear brighter when the programme was broadcast in monochrome. It’s a detail that lodged in my mind when I was a child, and I’m pleased to have found a story home for 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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