Topic Actions

Topic Search

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 2 guests

Authorial Politics

In the breaks in his writing schedule, David has promised to stop by and chat for a while!
Authorial Politics
Post by Michael Everett   » Sun Jan 31, 2010 7:43 am

Michael Everett
Admiral

Posts: 2544
Joined: Tue Nov 03, 2009 2:54 am
Location: Bristol, England

Being a fan of sci-fi (especially the well-written stuff), I've noted something that has started to intrigue me. Most of the sci-fi authors I've come across (especially the succesful ones) seem to have a tendancy towards what most people would call center-right to moderate-right political bias. I have yet to come across a card-carrying communist sci-fi author and the one or two neo-fascist authors I've stumbled across are... not very good.

Anyway, I was wondering. Is sci-fi inherently biased slightly towards the right of the political spectrum and if so, why? Is it part of the planning-out-the-future mentality that sways people to writing sci-fi, or is it the readership itself that sways the politics in question? These may be big questions, but I think that they need to be asked.

Awaiting comments.
~~~~~~

I can't write anywhere near as well as Weber
But I try nonetheless, And even do my own artwork.

(Now on Twitter)and mentioned by RFC!
ACNH Dreams at DA-6594-0940-7995
Top
Re: Authorial Politics
Post by DrakBibliophile   » Sun Jan 31, 2010 10:46 am

DrakBibliophile
Admiral

Posts: 2311
Joined: Sun Sep 06, 2009 2:54 pm
Location: East Central Illinois

Have you read Eric Flint's work? He is a "card carrying communist" by his own admission. [Wink]

Seriously, it may be a matter both your personal tastes and whiether or not the writer allows his politics to dominate his book.

Sheri Tepper writes 'science fiction' of a sort and she's far-left. Of course, her politics dominate her books.

Eric Flint writes 'science fiction' but is more interested to 'writing a good story' than spreading his politics. Of course, while he's a "card carrying communist" he definitely had little good to say about the Soviet Union.

Still it may be that (in general) left-wing writers are more interested in spreading their politics than in reader enjoyment. IMO any writer who ignores reader enjoyment in order to spread their politics doesn't write good stories. While I can't think right now of a 'right-wing' author who makes that mistake, I doubt that I'd enjoy that author.


Michael Everett wrote:Being a fan of sci-fi (especially the well-written stuff), I've noted something that has started to intrigue me. Most of the sci-fi authors I've come across (especially the succesful ones) seem to have a tendancy towards what most people would call center-right to moderate-right political bias. I have yet to come across a card-carrying communist sci-fi author and the one or two neo-fascist authors I've stumbled across are... not very good.

Anyway, I was wondering. Is sci-fi inherently biased slightly towards the right of the political spectrum and if so, why? Is it part of the planning-out-the-future mentality that sways people to writing sci-fi, or is it the readership itself that sways the politics in question? These may be big questions, but I think that they need to be asked.

Awaiting comments.
*
Paul Howard (Alias Drak Bibliophile)
*
Sometimes The Dragon Wins! [Polite Dragon Smile]
*
Top
Re: Authorial Politics
Post by saintonge   » Mon Feb 01, 2010 4:40 am

saintonge
Lieutenant (Senior Grade)

Posts: 97
Joined: Sat Aug 08, 2009 6:16 pm

Michael Everett wrote:Being a fan of sci-fi (especially the well-written stuff), I've noted something that has started to intrigue me. Most of the sci-fi authors I've come across (especially the succesful ones) seem to have a tendancy towards what most people would call center-right to moderate-right political bias. I have yet to come across a card-carrying communist sci-fi author and the one or two neo-fascist authors I've stumbled across are... not very good.

Anyway, I was wondering. Is sci-fi inherently biased slightly towards the right of the political spectrum and if so, why? Is it part of the planning-out-the-future mentality that sways people to writing sci-fi, or is it the readership itself that sways the politics in question? These may be big questions, but I think that they need to be asked.

Awaiting comments.


There was a time when science fiction was thought to be inherently left-wing. My personal take: sf is anti-majoritarian.
Top
Re: Authorial Politics
Post by Beatrice   » Thu Feb 04, 2010 12:27 am

Beatrice
Lieutenant (Senior Grade)

Posts: 85
Joined: Wed Jan 13, 2010 8:34 pm

I read a sci-fi novel last year - 'Healer' by F. Paul Wilson - that has a portion set on a planet with a distinctly libertarian outlook. That was a bit different.

Anyone else read this?
Top
Re: Authorial Politics
Post by Sasha   » Mon Feb 08, 2010 8:07 pm

Sasha
Ensign

Posts: 20
Joined: Tue Oct 13, 2009 4:39 pm

While I haven't read that particular novel, I do know that Ursula K. LeGuin actually has a book about a planet that exiled all of its anarchists to its moon. I can't for the life of me remember the title just now, but it was interesting reading, and not your usual politics.

Star Trek has always struck me as being inherently leftist, as well.

Maybe how we view the world also influences our readings of an author's politics within his or her work?
Top
Re: Authorial Politics
Post by charlie   » Mon Feb 08, 2010 10:51 pm

charlie
Lieutenant (Junior Grade)

Posts: 40
Joined: Wed Jan 20, 2010 10:18 pm

HMMM think they are all over the board there, Spider Robinson and Elizabeth Moon are both kind of left of center, and there are definitely more to the right, The only pattern I see is very few right in the middle (is it odd that in my favorite authors and my friends as well they all seem to be off center in this subject....the center is boring with no strong feeling to inspire conflict or conversation). Oh and maybe they all have a little streak of anarchy in them somewhere too.
Top
Re: Authorial Politics
Post by Howard T. Map-addict   » Tue Feb 09, 2010 7:56 pm

Howard T. Map-addict
Rear Admiral

Posts: 1392
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 10:47 am
Location: Philadelphia, PA

U K LeGuin's novel was THE DISPOSESED.
The particular brand of l-wing politics was Syndicalist.

Frederick Pohl has always been left-wing.
The Futurians, the noted SF club in NYC in the
1930s & 40s, was leftist at the time - too much so
for Asimov.

Then there were those Famous Petitions, circa 1970,
in Amazing Stories, with about threescore SF writers
*protesting* the Vietnam War on one page,
and a like number *supporting* it on the facing page.

Howard T. Map-addict

Sasha wrote:While I haven't read that particular novel, I do know that Ursula K. LeGuin actually has a book about a planet that exiled all of its anarchists to its moon. I can't for the life of me remember the title just now, but it was interesting reading, and not your usual politics.

Star Trek has always struck me as being inherently leftist, as well.

Maybe how we view the world also influences our readings of an author's politics within his or her work?
Top
Re: Authorial Politics
Post by solbergb   » Wed Feb 10, 2010 10:03 am

solbergb
Admiral

Posts: 2846
Joined: Sat Sep 12, 2009 8:24 pm

I would expect military fiction (science fiction or otherwise) to have a bit of a right leaning feel, as by definition there must be some problems that require military force in the universe and preservation of a way of life, rather than revolutionizing it is a place where military and conservative ideals tend to match.

As an aside, I don't consder Star Trek to be military science fiction. They have uniforms but it is a lot more like some civilian explorers and cops than any kind of military force. Even when fighting a war, the shenanigans Kirk got away with would have had him cashiered in a real military and the later protagonists were even less military than Kirk's ship.

However with the exception of Ringo, most of what I've read in the science fiction arena doesn't stomp all over you with it. Weber seems to advocate a center-right position in the Honorverse but his early work caricatured far right and far left equally and as his books expanded to have fewer purely military characters, more successful approaches to politics emerged in the stories, crossing religious and political spectrums. If anything his politics in the Honorverse simply abhor extreme concentrations of power, either in individuals or to "the mob". Anything else goes. Really good individuals can make concentrations of power work (See Benjamin) but even the Protector has some checks and balances and for every Honor or Hearns type steadholder there is a Muller.

Some science fiction is written to make a specific political point. That doesn't tend as much to be military science fiction, unless the point is tied to the military conflict. I'd say Starship Troopers and Forever War would be good examples of exceptions, with the former exploring the idea that only those who risk their lives to defend something greater should be able to participate in government and the latter using a similar war/backdrop to explore the consequences of a permanent state of war in "foreign lands" on the soldiers and civilians.

Most people would consider Forever War to be "leftist" but a lot of that just depends on your definition of left and right. Actually though it has a lot in common with that series (I forget who wrote it) that came out this decade featuring a 2020 multinational carrier wing being transported back to WWII at the time of Midway.

The main conflict in that series was culture shock, not the actual war. I would argue that the right wing is opposed to cultural changes so great that they shock the society as one of its basic premise and that book illustrates why they might have a point, in spite of how sympathetic and heroic the people causing the "shock" might be.

One thing I really liked is that the future people were shocked at the pervasive racism and sexism of 1940s and the 1940s people were shocked at how much of a "this is a job" attitude the 2020 warriors had to killing (the book had a premise that they'd had an escalating Jihad for 20 years, with a Hawkish Hilary Clinton who was assassinated in office as president and WMD's used by terrorists...that, btw, was a fairly right-leaning view of how the next 15ish years would go in 2005, aside from Hilary as prez)

It's just not black and white. People of differing politics can read and enjoy the same book if it is written well and has stuff that makes the characters sympathetic and plots that seem important.

Really well written books can have people of differing politics take totally different lessons from the same text and thus provide fodder for fun arguing for decades to come by the fans :)
Top
Re: Authorial Politics
Post by rofwh   » Tue Feb 16, 2010 9:04 pm

rofwh
Captain (Junior Grade)

Posts: 311
Joined: Wed Nov 25, 2009 6:40 pm

DrakBibliophile wrote:Still it may be that (in general) left-wing writers are more interested in spreading their politics than in reader enjoyment. IMO any writer who ignores reader enjoyment in order to spread their politics doesn't write good stories. While I can't think right now of a 'right-wing' author who makes that mistake, I doubt that I'd enjoy that author.

So, Drak, you admit that you don't care much for the works of Tom Kratman or Mike Williamson.

Most of the old lefty writer of science fiction have passed on and the one's that are left are, like most science fiction writers, too busy with their day jobs to bother with 'writing political.'

Finally, I have to say that this is not a very enlightening topic. The thing is that military science fiction tends to attract folks who like the military and those folks' politics tend to be more righty. There are other kinds of science fiction whose writers write pretty good adventure stories with shooting and all that, but the politics are not righty. Or even lefty, usually. In fact, there is not much politics. In the writing, I mean.
Top
Re: Authorial Politics
Post by Donnachaidh   » Wed Feb 17, 2010 3:12 am

Donnachaidh
Rear Admiral

Posts: 1006
Joined: Sun Oct 04, 2009 2:11 pm

I've only read more recent science fiction (I think to oldest I've really read is Ender's Game). So I don't have much experience with the writers forcing politics that others seem to have.

I disagree with what has been said about Eric Flint's writing, at least with the 1632 series. The books have a very consistent theme of "if it's 'blue collar' then it's good and right, if it's 'white collar' then it's bad and wrong." And to an extent it felt like it also 'pushed' (U.S.) right wing politics and values. Most of my family has what can be considered white collar jobs. I enjoy reading books and having discussions that challenge my views and opinions, but the consistent forced philosophy of those books felt like an attack on both my family and my opinions.

I agree with Drak, books should be about the story not the politics.

Part of what drew me into David Weber's books is his ability to write from the perspective of all sides and make you understand how what they do makes sense even if you completely disagree with their values. And that he doesn't push a specific agenda beyond not forcing others to follow your own beliefs.

DrakBibliophile wrote:Have you read Eric Flint's work? He is a "card carrying communist" by his own admission. [Wink]

Seriously, it may be a matter both your personal tastes and whiether or not the writer allows his politics to dominate his book.

Sheri Tepper writes 'science fiction' of a sort and she's far-left. Of course, her politics dominate her books.

Eric Flint writes 'science fiction' but is more interested to 'writing a good story' than spreading his politics. Of course, while he's a "card carrying communist" he definitely had little good to say about the Soviet Union.

Still it may be that (in general) left-wing writers are more interested in spreading their politics than in reader enjoyment. IMO any writer who ignores reader enjoyment in order to spread their politics doesn't write good stories. While I can't think right now of a 'right-wing' author who makes that mistake, I doubt that I'd enjoy that author.
_____________________________________________________
"Sometimes I wonder if the world is run by smart people who are putting us on or by imbeciles who really mean it." - Mark Twain
Top

Return to David's Dimension