Released on 12 February 2015.

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The Utopia Experiment

3.4 based on 428 ratings & 54 reviews on Goodreads.com

Synopsis

In 2007 Dr Dylan Evans, a respected behavioural psychologist, and an expert on robots and artificial intelligence, was sectioned at a hospital in Aberdeen. The following morning he sat at breakfast with six other psychiatric inmates - one of whom was heavily tattooed and sporting bleeding knuckles - musing on the etiquette of introducing himself to his fellow patients. Was it OK to ask them why they were there? Should he explain his own story?
The Utopia Experiment is Dylan Evans's account of how he abandoned his life in 2006, sold his house in the Cotswolds and its contents, and moved to the Black Isle in Scotland to found a self-sufficient community in a remote valley, with a group of acolytes he had recruited on-line. The project was called the Utopia Experiment, and the idea was to attempt to imagine, through real-life roleplaying, the conditions that might exist in the aftermath of society's collapse.
As the months went by, what began as an experiment became deadly earnest. Factions formed with different views about the future of the human race, and competition and fighting broke out. The yurts they lived in leaked rain. The vegetables they farmed wouldn't grow. Dylan began to fear for his sanity, and then his life.
This is the story of Evans's experiment in Utopia, but also an examination of the millenarian impulse - why do these doomsday scenarios fascinate us? Is there any sensible way we can prepare for the worst?

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
This is not in the end a matter of Schadenfreude. There is nothing much that is comic about the Utopians' misfortunes; and nothing at all about Evans's. But it is useful: not only do we see just how difficult it would be to return to the primitive life but we see the kind of mental state that can make it unhealthily attractive
Evening Standard
A fun read - and a scary one
BBC Focus