In 1897 Bellamy wrote a sequel, Equality, dealing with women's rights, education and many other issues. Bellamy wrote the sequel to elaborate and clarify many of the ideas merely touched upon in Looking Backward.
The success of Looking Backward provoked a spate of sequels, parodies, satires, dystopian, and 'anti-utopian' responses. A partial list of these follows.
Directly 'anti-Bellamy' responses:
- Bachelder, J. A.D. 2050. Electrical Development at Atlantis (1890)
- Harris, G. Inequality and Progress (1897) [which assumes Bellamy advocated an absolute equality of goods]
- Michaelis, R.C. Looking Further Forward: An Answer to "Looking Backward" by Edward Bellamy (1890)
- Morris, William, News from Nowhere (1890)
- Roberts, J.W. Looking Within: The Misleading Tendencies of "Looking Backward" Made Manifest (1893)
- Sanders, G.A. Reality: or Law and order vs. Anarchy and Socialism, A Reply to Edward Bellamy’s Looking Backward and Equality (1898)
- Satterlee, W.W. Looking Backward and What I Saw (1890)
- Vinton, A.D. Looking Further Backward (1890)
- West, J. [pseud.] My Afterdream (1900)
- Wilbrant, C. Mr. East's Experiences in Mr. Bellamy's World (1891)
Direct and positive utopian responses / unofficial sequels:
- Berwick, E. 'Farming in the Year 2000, A.D.', Overland Monthly (1890)
- Bellamy, C.J. An Experiment in Marriage. A Romance (1889) [Bellamy's brother]
- Chavannes, A. In Brighter Climes, or Life in Socioland (1895) by A. Chavannes
- Chavannes, A. The Future Commonwealth (1892)
- Claflin, S.F. Nationalism. Or a System of Organic Unity (189x)
- 'Crusoe, R.' Looking Upwards; or Nothing New (1892)
- Emmens, S.H. The Sixteenth Amendment (1896)
- Flower, B.O. Equality and Brotherhood (1897) [A positive response to Bellamy’s Equality; see also 'The Latest Social Vision', Arena v.18, pp. 517–34]
- Flower, B.O. The New Time (1894)
- Fuller, A.M. A.D. 2000 (1890)
- Geissler, L.A. Looking Beyond (1891)
- Giles, F.S. The Industrial Army (1896)
- Gillette, K.C., The Human Drift (1894)
- Griffin, C.S. Nationalism (1889)
- Gronlund, L. Our Destiny. The Influence of Nationalism on Morals and Religion (1890) [first syndicated The Nationalist, (March–September 1890)]
- Hayes, F.W. The Great Revolution of 1905: Or, The story of the Phalanx (1893)
- Hertzka, T. Freeland, a Social Anticipation (1890)
- Howard, E. To-Morrow: A Peaceful Path to Real Reform (1898)
- McCowan, A. Philip Meyer’s Scheme (1892)
- Moffat, W. White, G., and White J., What’s the World Coming To? (1893)
- Porter, L.B. Speaking of Ellen (1890) [not a utopia]
- Salisbury, H.B. 'The Birth of Freedom', The Nationalist (November 1890, Mar-Apr 1891)
- Schindler, S. 'Dr. Leete's Letter to Julian West', The Nationalist (September 1890)
- Schindler, S. Young West: A Sequel to Edward Bellamy's Celebrated Novel "Looking Backward" (1894)
- Stone, C.H. One of Berrian's Novels (1890)
- Worley, F.U. Three Thousand Dollars a Year (1890) [a gradualist utopia]
- Hillman, H.W. Looking Forward (1906)
The result was a "battle of the books" that lasted through the rest of the 19th century and into the 20th. The back-and-forth nature of the debate is illustrated by the subtitle of Geissler's 1891 Looking Beyond, which is "A Sequel to 'Looking Backward' by Edward Bellamy and an Answer to 'Looking Forward' by Richard Michaelis".
The book was translated into Bulgarian in 1892. In 1900 Bellamy personally approved a request by Bulgarian author Iliya Yovchev to make an "adapted translation" based on the realities of Bulgarian social order. The resulting work, titled The Present as Seen by Our Descendants And a Glimpse at the Progress of the Future ("Настоящето, разгледано от потомството ни и надничане в напредъка на бъдещето"), generally followed the same plot. The events in Yovchev's version take place in a environmentally friendly Sofia and describe the country's unique path of adapting to the new social order. It is considered by local critics to be the first Bulgarian utopian work.
William Morris's 1890 utopia News from Nowhere was partly written in reaction to Bellamy's utopia, which Morris did not find congenial.
Beyond the purely literary sphere, Bellamy's descriptions of utopian urban planning had a practical influence on Ebenezer Howard's founding of the garden city movement in England, and on the design of the Bradbury Building in Los Angeles.
During the Great Strikes of 1877, Eugene V. Debs opposed the strikes and argued that there was no essential necessity for the conflict between capital and labor. Debs was influenced by Bellamy's book to turn to a more socialist direction. He soon helped to form the American Railway Union. With supporters from the Knights of Labor and from the immediate vicinity of Chicago, workers at the Pullman Palace Car Company went on strike in June 1894. This came to be known as the Pullman Strike.
The book had a specific and intense reception in Wilhelminian Germany including various parodies and sequels, from Eduard Loewenthal, Ernst Müller and Philipp Wasserburg till Konrad Wilbrandt and Richard Michaelis.