Authors from antiquity to the present day have imagined ideal societies, often set in alternate realities or strange locales. Conversely, literary dystopias construct hypothetical worlds that are irredeemably flawed. Despite this other-worldly setting, works with utopic and dystopic themes critique issues that face real human societies. In this section, we will explore the possibilities of utopic and dystopic literature as an effective medium of social commentary. Some real-world topics that our readings will examine include gender roles, racism, the nature of government, censorship, the tension between communal solidarity and individual freedom, and the effects of technology on human life.