Friday, March 23, 2007

Politics in science fiction

I was going to post another blog today about one of the other hot topics in the news these days, but I decided to put that off for another day.

Instead, I want to talk about politics in science fiction. I've heard some people say that they don't like stories in which politics plays a part. In some ways, I think this is absurd, and in another way I think it makes sense. I think it's all in how the politics is approached.

To some degree, politics plays a part in almost all science fiction. I hear some people screaming, "WHAT?!?!" Let me explain. If you're placing a story in the future, then there were certain events that created the world you're reading or writing about, and politics would be one of the key events. Look how much it effects our lives. Characters of the future are going to be no different. This is what makes me think the idea of hating stories with politics is absurd. Almost every story has politics to some degree.

What I think these people are really talking about is stories where politics is very central to the plot, and there's a lot of that out there. I can see how some people might not like this. There are certainly various plotlines that I'm not especially fond of. I don't particularly like military SF...which has politics in it, but that's ok because there are a lot of people out there that really enjoy a good military SF story.

Now, as far as political SF, I LOVE THE STUFF! Dune, The Foundation Series, the Hyperion novels are just a few examples...and those are some of my favorite books. I absolutely love galactic empire stories.

As a writer, I've tried my hand at galactic empires in short stories, and I've really enjoyed it. The novel I have circulating right now has an alien species that has a small empire, but it's nothing compared to what I'd like to do. One day, I hope to write a novel or a series that spans generations and the entire galactic disk.

I'm curious to hear how others like their political SF...


Marva said...

Some of the most memorable science fiction was political. Unfortunately, those who didn't bother reading the dire warning posited in 1984 and others have been doomed to repeat the mistakes.

Science fiction authors have been prescient in fields other than science.

Good point, J.

Jim Shannon said...

Star Wars from beginning to end reeked of politics. Most Space Opera has politics.

To bad the Av’s lost but I feel better about the Oilers finally breaking their 12th strait loss record.BTW, the Edmonton Oilers started a lot of playoff traditions: The playoff beard. That was an Oiler idea. The march of the Stanley Cup around the rink
Was the Oilers idea and the on ice gathering for a team photo. The Oilers started that one to. The chant, “Lets go (insert team name) lets go. That’s also an Oiler original. I still hope the Av’s catch up with the Flames. Also, apparently this year is supposed to be the worst year in the NHL draft history.

Just thought you'd like to know.

Keith said...

My story - read at:

was a hard sell because of politics. Politics frightens some editors if it is too pointed or a thinly disguised partisan piece (as is mine).
If you can find copies, Poul Anderson wrote very funny stories about a character named Flandry who was a kind of ambassador/trouble shooter who traveled around the galaxy preventing wars and stopping revolutions - or starting them. They are always fun.

J Erwine said...

Marva-1984 is actually one of the books I hear people say they can't read because it's too political...which I really think was the point. I of course loved 1984...the writing of Opium was definitely influenced by it. Most people say it could never happen, but I'll direct their attention to the NSA.

Jim-At least the Avs got a point. The Flames play a lot of their final games on the road, and they're really bad on the road, so maybe there's hope.

Keith-I read that story. I can see why a lot of editors might shy away from it. If you could find some kind of political satire publication, it might have a chance there.
Editor's political opinions definitely influence what they buy. Selling something that was have in Neocon ideals would be a real tough sell. I'd like to think that if it was brilliantly written, I would still take it...but I'm not so sure about that.

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