Utopian Studies 33 (1):107-126 (2022)

ABSTRACT The phrase “ambiguous utopia” was coined by Ursula K. Le Guin in the subtitle of her novel, The Dispossessed: An Ambiguous Utopia. That work appeared when utopian narratives had been displaced by dystopian imaginaries. This article embarks on a comparative analysis of three short stories: Ursula K. Le Guin’s “The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas”, Angélica Gorodischer’s “Of Navigators”, and N. K. Jemisin’s “The Ones Who Stay and Fight”. Each author installs ambiguity at the center of their open-ended utopian imaginaries as a way to challenge dogma, pessimism, and complacency. Le Guin interrogates the boundary between belief and knowledge to hold the threat of authoritarianism at bay. Gorodischer, a friend and contemporary of Le Guin, is considered a central figure of Argentine science fiction and fantasy. Her story imagines the discovery of a second Earth set in 1492 and highlights the need for utopianism to challenge the legacy of colonization. Finally, Jemisin’s story is a critical homage to “Omelas.” Jemisin shares the decolonial impetus of Gorodischer’s fiction, and she constructs Um-Helat on an explicitly antiracist foundation. Instead of walking away, her characters actively fight the creeping threat of intolerance while working toward that better place.
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DOI 10.5325/utopianstudies.33.1.0107
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