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The Utopia Experiment

3.39 based on 390 ratings & 53 reviews on


As read on BBC Radio 4's Book of the Week.

Imagine you have survived an apocalypse. Civilization as you knew it is no more. What will life be like and how will you cope?

In 2006, Dylan Evans set out to answer these questions. He left his job in a high-tech robotics lab, moved to the Scottish Highlands and founded a community called The Utopia Experiment. There, together with an eclectic assortment of volunteers, he tried to live out a scenario of global collapse, free from modern technology and comforts.

Within a year, Evans found himself detained in a psychiatric hospital, shattered and depressed, trying to figure out what had gone wrong. In The Utopia Experiment he tells his own extraordinary story: his frenzied early enthusiasm for this unusual project, the many challenges of post-apocalyptic living, his descent into madness and his gradual recovery. In the process, he learns some hard lessons about himself and about life, and comes to see the modern world he abandoned in a new light.

'A gripping, slow-motion car crash. You can't take your eyes off it' Julian Baggini, Financial Times

'It radiates an intense intelligence and a candour that is never less than touching and, sometimes, downright heartrending' Daily Mail

'Extraordinary . . . both frightening and compelling' GQ

In the media

Evans always maintains a wry humour even as numerous uncertainties build into a breakdown. Never less than an engaging read, this book is a reminder of why the best utopias are those of our imaginations.
Sydney Morning Herald
The real story of the book is about delusion and depression . . . Structurally, the book is smart: instead of beginning at the beginning, full of optimism and hope, it begins with Evans in a psychiatric unit, having been broken by the stresses of running his post-apocalyptic project . . . the eccentric characters who join him, from Adam the chancer to hard-core Agric ("a Hobbit on speed"), come alive . . . One imagines this must have been an incredibly painful book to write: the experiment happened nine years ago, and it's obviously taken this long for Evans to process and understand it
A book for anyone who fancies their chances in the apocalypse
Living North