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 as if global society had collapsed. No modern technology. No creature 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, and in the process learns some hard lessons about himself and about life today.
Publisher: Pan Macmillan
Number of pages: 256
Weight: 420 g
Dimensions: 216 x 135 x 24 mm
A funny, gripping and unique real-life fable of hope, human nature and imminent apocalypse -- Will Storr, author of THE HERETICS Dylan Evans' remarkable true experience, from the euphoria of setting up a utopian community to his descent into depression is brilliantly described -- Lewis Wolpert, author of SIX IMPOSSIBLE THINGS BEFORE BREAKFAST An eccentric swirl of philosophy, comedy and wonderfully mad ideas. I loved it -- Sam Mills, author of THE QUIDDITY OF WILL SELF Here is a ponderment: Are you surprised at the high number of people crazy or the low number of people crazy? The Utopia Experiment, if the ponderment engages you, will help in your calculations -- Padgett Powell, author of THE INTERROGATIVE MOOD Evans' account is a gripping, slow-motion car crash. You can't take your eyes off it, try as you might to hide them behind your hands. What went wrong? What didn't? -- Julian Baggini Financial Times The account of the collapse of the experiment is searingly honest; there is not a hint of self pity or recrimination against anyone but himself. The book makes fascinating reading and suggests that at least for him, the experiment was not without useful results. -- Frank O'Shea 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 Guardian The Utopia Experiment should probably be a mandatory handbook for any slightly nesh person fantasising about living off-grid Observer Evans examines how what appeared to be rational thinking took him down the path to madness ... The issues that put Evans on the road to Utopia confront us all ... In this perceptive and self-critical memoir, which took him some seven years to write, Evans asks why utopias so often turn into dystopias and why, despite that, people so often invest their hopes in them Saturday Paper (Australia) extraordinary ... both frightening and compelling -- Olivia Cole GQ vivid, blackly comic ... a thought-provoking tale, full of splendidly unlikely characters Mail on Sunday 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. -- James Tierney Sydney Morning Herald The Utopia Experiment is unexpectedly upbeat. Evans' chatty narrative is laced with musings on technology, psychology and sociology ... It will leave you feeling that civilization, for all its discontents, maybe isn't quite so bad after all -- Michelle McLaren Big Issue (Australia) this book is much more than an account of a naive undertaking in the life of a rather strange man. For one thing, it radiates an intense intelligence and a candour that is never less than touching and, sometimes, downright heartrending. To have written so elegantly and often humorously about his mental health means Evans must now, to a great extent, be 'better'. But it's still an exercise in agonised soul-searching -- Brian Viner Daily Mail A fun read - and a scary one BBC Focus A book for anyone who fancies their chances in the apocalypse Living North Excruciatingly honest and stranger than fiction, The Utopia Experiment is a riveting look at the eccentric world of doomers and preppers New Zealand Herald His observations are just wonderful. As well as being interesting and informative, he manages to inject humour into his writing Press & Journal Searingly honest... the book makes fascinating reading Canberra Times Thought-provoking The Big Issue A brave and insightful memoir -- Cushla McKinney Otago Daily Times Evans sets up a community in the Highlands of Scotland with a coterie of eccentrics, free from modern technology and home comforts. Things didn't go quite to plan as this frank, often funny book immediately makes clear Sunday Express S Magazine 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 gripping adventure story, even when (or especially when) things turn dark...[Evans] is searingly candid and willing to think hard about why utopias often become dystopias, why we yearn for a simpler life, whether world trade can be understood as 'thousands of strangers cooperating' and how mortality can be faced -- Samantha Ellia Literary Review This excellent book provides not only a compelling recollection of a wacky adventure with some eccentric characters but also an honestly told personal journey -- Julia Richardson Daily Mail