Monday, July 27, 2015

island tubopias

Islands are often the site of utopian, as well as dystopian, science fiction imaginaries. Aldous Huxley's Island, where an Englishman is shipwrecked on a Polynesian shore, was written for example as a utopian counterpoint to Brave New World.

Having grown up on an island, I have always been fascinated by other islands, and the specialness of living somewhere completely surrounded by the sea (ironically now I live in a place which is completely landlocked!).

I have never quite dreamed though of creating my own island utopia, as many billionaires do, havens from the regulatory and conservative forces of governments and societal norms. Recently AtlasObscura reported on the utopian island visions of the rich and famous, including one strange tycoon in the 1970s.

Robert Graham, inventor of shatter-proof eyeglass, was a technological optimist (I can just imagine his TED talk now). Graham wanted to design the perfect haven for research, and considered the best way to do so was to start a new country, on an island. He had realestate scouts find options and went about designing a self-sufficient paradise. No cars of course. But certainly greenhouses and eco-friendly sewage systems, and best of all, pneumatic tube travel across the island.

The plans never eventuated into a built reality, although Graham did have a go at attempting to design a perfect society through his Nobel prize winner sperm bank.

Thanks to LongBranch Mike for sending me this great link! Image my own, my island home from the air.