In the strange country of Erewhon, sick people are imprisoned while criminals are treated for sickness. Machines are are considered too dangerous to use. This subtle satire of Victorian society is still as thought-provoking and entertaining as when it was first written.
Butler was the first to write about the possibility that machines might develop consciousness by Darwinian Selection.
Not only is "Erewhon" an adventure story but also Butler's satirical inversion of English customs and philosophy in the 19th century. The explorer Higgs discovers a well organised and civilised country - apparently idyllic. However, the body politic has two ruling obsessions, disease is considered a crime and machinery is seen as a threat to the supremacy of man. In his story Butler identified certain social and industrial conditions which have since become large moral problems. Ever present poverty and encroaching technology ensure that these problems are likely to be with us for a long time. Fantasy "Erewhon" may be, yet it still has a ring of truth and the power to disturb.