Sunday, January 12, 2014

New Amazonia by Elizabeth Burgoyne Corbett

I'm pleased to announce the release, as the third volume in Aqueduct Press's Heirloom Books series, of a new edition of New Amazonia: A Foretaste of the Future, a feminist utopian novel by Elizabeth Burgoyne Corbett originally published in 1889, which includes an introduction by scholar Alexis Lothian. “Corrupt, Degraded, Rotten to the core is British Civilisation, and yet we find women who ought to know better, actually pretending that they are perfectly contented with the existing order of things,” declares the narrator of New Amazonia. Raging against an antifeminist statement signed by “ladies” opposing the cause of women’s suffrage, a writer falls asleep in 1889 and wakens, in company with a hashish-smoking “masher,” in a future world run by women. New Amazonia tells the story of how this future world came to be and reveals its shiny, futuristic marvels as well as its government-administered horrors. 

“When Elizabeth Burgoyne Corbett sat down in the late 1880s to imagine a world 500 years hence, she can little have imagined that her words would be pored over in another century, on another continent, in a community gathered around the kinds of imaginative engagement with gender that she was pioneering. L. Timmel Duchamp has described feminist science fiction as a "great conversation”; Corbett’s speculations about New Amazonia are part of that conversation’s prehistory, a fictional contribution to political debates with which the writer was intensively engaged. The book you are holding is a piece of utopian fiction, but it is just as much a feminist rant––entertaining, educational, and more than a little over the top.”—from the Introduction by Alexis Lothian

New Amazonia is available now through Aqueduct's site ( in trade paperback and e-book editions. While it is also available online in public domain pdf files (and printed and bound pdf files) of the original 1889 edition (sans Alexis's illuminating introduction), those pdf reproductions are not easy to read. My decision to bring the book back into print was based on a combination of my desire to draw attention to this early feminist utopia (of which I knew only its bare existence until Alexis talked to me about it) and the need for a more readable version of the text. 

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