Science Fiction

Science Fiction Is for Socialists?


china mieville
Credit: Ceridwen/Wikimedia

SF author China Mieville (The City, Embassytown) lists 50 science fiction titles of particular interest to socialists. Interesting to see the overlaps with what turns up on similar lists for libertarians.

A smattering of Mieville's picks and justifications below, with links to Reason's coverage of same.

Iain M. Banks—Use of Weapons (1990)

Socialist SF discussing a post-scarcity society. The Culture are "goodies" in narrative and political terms, but here issues of cross-cultural guilt and manipulation complicate the story from being a simplistic utopia.

ReasonWhat to Do When You Can Do Anything, by Peter Suderman, February 2013

Edward Bellamy—Looking Backward, 2000–1887 (1888)

A hugely influential, rather bureaucratic egalitarian/naïve communist utopia. Deals very well with the confusion of the "modern" (19th Century) protagonist in a world he hasn't helped create (see Bogdanov).

Reason: Looking Back on Looking Backward: Edward Bellamy's famous utopian novel is set in today's America. Are we living his crazy dream? by Tom Peyser, August/September 2000

Octavia Butler—Survivor (1978)

Black American writer, now discovered by the mainstream after years of acclaim in the SF field.Kindredis her most overtly political novel, the Patternmaster series the most popular. Survivor brilliantly blends genre SF with issues of colonialism and racism.

Reason: The Parables of Octavia Butler: A science-fiction writer's rich libertarian legacy by Amy Sturgis, June 2006

Ursula K. Le Guin—The Dispossessed: An Ambiguous Utopia (1974)

The most overtly political of this anarchist writer's excellent works. An examination of the relations between a rich, exploitive capitalist world and a poor, nearly barren (though high-tech) communist one.

Reason: Ursula LeGuin: Novelist by Jeff Riggenbach, December 1979

Ken MacLeod—The Star Fraction (1996)

British Trotskyist (of strongly libertarian bent), all of whose (very good) works examine Left politics without sloganeering. The Stone Canal, for example, features arguments about distortions of Marxism. However, The Star Fraction is chosen here as it features Virtual Reality heroes of the left, by name—a roll call of genuine revolutionaries recast in digital form.

Reason: Anarchies, States, and Utopias: The science fiction of Ken MacLeod by Jesse Walker, November 2000

Philip Pullman—Northern Lights (1995)

Pullman let us down. This book is here because it deals with moral/political complexities with unsentimental respect for its (young adult) readers and characters. Explores freedom and social agency, and the question of using ugly means for emanicipatory ends. It raises the biggest possible questions, and doesn't patronise us that there are easy answers. The second in the trilogy,The Subtle Knife, is a perfectly good bridging volume… and then in book three,The Amber Spyglass, something goes wrong. It has excellent bits, it is streets ahead of its competition… but there's sentimentality, a hesitation, a formalism, which lets us down. Ah well.Northern Lightsis still a masterpiece.

Reason: A Secular Fantasy: The flawed but fascinating fiction of Philip Pullman by Cathy Young, March 2008

Ayn Rand—Atlas Shrugged (1957)

Know your enemy. This panoply of portentous Nietzcheanism lite has had a huge influence on American SF. Rand was an obsessive "objectivist" (libertarian pro-capitalist individualist) whose hatred of socialism and any form of "collectivism" is visible in this important an[d] influential—though vile and ponderous—novel.

Reason: All over the place.

Via io9.

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  1. I nominate Watchmen for constipated, socialist science fiction novel. I enjoy it stylistically, but the politics typical Alan Moore tripe.

    1. *are

    2. Eh? How is Watchmen socialist?

      1. How is Watchmen socialist?

        Ozymandias, the ultimate TOP. MAN. is the good guy. The guy based of Objectivism is a sociopath who dies in the end.

        1. Wait, wait, he Stormy was asking me!

          1. Ah, stop your cryin’.

            You sound like Silk Specter II whining that I chose to assault her mother over you.

            1. Eh, well. You mentioned Rorschach’s Objectivist origins, something I failed to mention. Your response wins.

              1. Watch Fifty Shades Freed Full Movies Online Free HD

        2. Is Ozymandias the good guy? I think that’s a matter of interpretation.

          1. Is Ozymandias the good guy? I think that’s a matter of interpretation.

            We’re talking about Alan Moore’s views of the characters. Read what he has said about the subject. He most definitely intended Ozymandias to be the good guy.

            1. “Moore intended Watchmen to be socialist” is not the same as “Watchmen is socialist”.

              1. That’s arguable within itself, but I don’t want to get into deep Lit Crit right now. I’ll just ask you if the Watchmen world was a better place or a worse place after Ozy faked the alien invasion?

                1. It’s worse. No of the issues that were creating the march to war have been resolved, they’ve merely been papered over temporarily (“In the end? Nothing ends, Adrian. Nothing ever ends”) and is likely to be even worse once the truth comes out. So millions of people were just killed in a pointless act.

                  1. Also, remember that the marooned sailors story is a metaphor for Ozy’s. Did the sailor end up saving his family? What makes you think Ozy’s attempt to save the world on a raft of corpses is going to end up any better? Ozy’s delusions don’t actually change the nature of reality any more than the sailor’s delusions did; the truth is eventually going to make itself known.

                    1. Good points. You’ve convinced me.

        3. I think you’ve got the good guys/bad guys reversed.

          1. I thought the whole point of Watchmen was that there are no good guys.

            1. Definitely libertopia, then.

        4. Good guy? He’s the freaking villain, who should have been smart enough to know his gambit would merely set back hostile relations and not somehow eliminate them. Or he was just a scheming opportunist making excuses for reprehensible behavior.

          Rorshach, while flawed, is one of the good guys who’s willing to die rather than betray his moral ideals. I really took that lesson to heart, and I hope his journal actually ended up getting published after the end of the story.

          1. I also ready the whole subplot with the two lesbians/the newspaper guy/the suspended detective as undermining Ozy’s whole argument. When the fight erupts on the street corner, the “little people” are right on the verge of resolving the problem themselves when the attempt gets cut off by them all being vaporized by Ozy’s explosion.

            Our indiviual empathy for others means our problems are best solved through individual interaction, not by a solution being imposed by a top down force. Ozy had become so dissociated from the rest of humanity by his narcissism that his attempt to “fix” humanity ended up destroying the very reconciliation he had hoped to create.

            1. Wait, fuck… are you guys talking about a comic book or Obamacare?

      2. Ozymandias is the reluctant hero of the story, in spite of his Stalinist contempt for humanity.

        1. My reading was that Ozy was the contradiction in a reducto ad abusrdum about the problem with the idea of the Big Man. That is, there’s something wrong with the very idea of a superhero, because if you accept the core moral logic you end up justifying Ozymandias.

  2. Honestly, using Bank’s Culture as an example of anything other than post scarcity near-anarchy organized by benevolent moral AIs is kind of dumb. And I do not extend the use of the term “moral” to Special Circumstances.

    1. It’s a little tough to understand what the Culture is, except AIs manipulating the rest of us. A tyranny with loose rules?

      1. Everything is predicated on the morality and benevolence of the AIs. Banks doesn’t really do a whole lot of exploring when and if they go crazy.

        1. Sure, but you’re right–the assumption isn’t really backed up.

          1. He intimates that the AIs that don’t want to play by the rules are content to fuck off to their version of Subliming instead of being evil.

            What the Culture is a giant ant farm for the Minds to play with. Humans are their pets. Beloved pets, but pets nonetheless.

            1. Yeah, well, maybe they’re right. Look how well we’re running things right now.

              1. The Minds in the Culture run a gamut, through the basic contempt for meat that many of the near-human-equivilent drones feel to to the instances like Sleeper Service, devoted years of its existence and changed it’s entire ship-body and function within the larger society to atone for the wrong it felt it did to a single human woman.

                Banks is simply amazing, his doofus politics notwithstanding.

              2. I think Asher’s take on AI tyranny is more…realistic. With The Quiet War and the AI takeover and the fact that there are still a lot of humans who don’t want to live under their rules, and the subsequent violence that that causes and that the AIs have little problem engaging in. And he has insane AIs like Penny Royal and Mr. Crane.

                1. Of course Mr. Crane was driven insane by humans. And we don’t know much about the origins of Penny Royal yet. (Although a Penny Royal trilogy is in the works.)

                  1. The rest of The Owner series is already complete, right? Just not released in the US?

                    1. Jupiter War isn’t due out in the UK until August, but he has said it might have a simultaneous UK/US release.

            2. Its a big galaxy.

              The roles and relationships Minds have with meatpeeps are all over the map, although the word that comes to mind for the relationships in the stories is “symbiotic” – each does something for the other that it can’t really get anywhere else.

              He definitely shows the dark side of the Minds, at least in glimpses. Some are bona fide paranoid (the Interesting Times Crew?), many are obsessive/compulsive loners, etc. I don’t see any genuine tyrants, as I don’t think that the Culture would tolerate it.

              1. I think any society I can’t leave without being surgically mutilated is a tyranny.

                1. The runcilble’s right over there, NutraSweet. You can show yourself out.

                  (slaps a Jain nodule on NutraSweet’s back)

                2. I think any society I can’t leave without being surgically mutilated is a tyranny.

                  And the gun control. They wouldn’t let me have a Micro Armaments System, Rifle.

                  1. They don’t really have gun control as such – you can have any weapon yoiu can make or convince someone else to make for you.

                    Of course any amrmament maufacturer is free to refuse to do the work – having the *right* to something does not require someone provide it to you.

                    Oh and all the really cool guns are smarter than humans anyway.

                    1. All the best guns weigh twice as much upside down.

        2. Banks doesn’t really do a whole lot of exploring when and if they go crazy.

          Sure he does…he even has a term “Go eccentric”

          Basically when an AI goes nuts it breaks some rules and saves the universe…and it always turns out the AI was only half kidding when it broke the rules.

    2. The only thing I know about the Culture novels is they are boring as shit. Well, the first one was. I didn’t read the rest. About 70% of the novel felt like filler.

      1. Which one? Consider Phlebas?

        Banks writes long books. That may not be for you.

        1. Hurr durr. Yes, it was Consider Phlebas. 544 pages puts it in line with what I’ve read recently. Hyperion and Leviathan Wakes (to name a couple) were far better.

          1. If I recall correctly, Phlebas was his first Culture novel and was written in 1987. They have changed a bit over time. I personally like Phlebas a lot, but it is very different from later Culture novels.

            1. The only thing that interested me in Consider Phlebas was the Dra’Azon. Do any of the other novels shed more light on them?

              1. Not that I recall. Banks does not tend to revisit alien races or galactic locations between books because his universe is so vast, and I think he just likes making new shit up every time. He does go into Subliming more, especially in his most recent novel.

    3. I see the Culture as actively evil, personally. The humans are enslaved by mostly-benevolent robot gods that destroy other cultures for no reason other than boredom.

      1. That’s one way to put it, but since you can leave at any time they’re not enslaving anyone. I save my ire for SC.

        1. Not many Culture citizens are going to be able to survive in a society where they’re not pampered pets. It’s not slavery, you’re right, but it’s not far off.

          1. This is a little hyperbolic. We’re all “enslaved” to our technology. You can go live in the rain forest with no technology if you want to. But you probably don’t. And at the end of the day, while the AIs have the humans as pets, the humans get all the technology benefits, near immortality, etc. They can always ask to be restored to an unaugmented body and dropped off somewhere.

            Someone used the word “symbiotic” which I think is more appropriate.

            1. Our technology doesn’t literally control us. Theirs does. That’s the difference.

        2. but since you can leave at any time they’re not enslaving anyone

          They surgically mutilated you if you leave for anything they consider a primitive culture. They rip out your drug glands, and your souped-up genitals and your ability to alter your body in anyway, locking you to the basal standard of where ever you are going.

          1. In which novel was this stated? I don’t remember it.

            1. It was one of the short stories in State of the Art: “A Gift From The Culture”

              1. Well maybe I should read that then.

            2. SC breaks down Djan Seriy Anaplian pretty heavily in Matter when she wants to go back to the Shellworld. Then again, she was a SC agent, with oodles of James Bond-type implants: CREWS fingernails, etc…

              OTOH, I don’t think they did anything to Gurgeh in The Player of Games.

              1. But Gurgeh wasn’t leaving the Culture. He was on SC business, and SC wasn’t going to take away things that raise his chance of success.

                1. (Spoilers) but w/e: the book’s what, 20 years old?

                  True, Gurgeh was on SC business (though he didn’t really know it at the time) but he was definitely leaving for someplace outside the Culture and someplace I think the Culture would classify as “primitive.” Yet they let Gurgeh keep his drug glands, IIRC, though I think the Azadians prohibited him from using them when he played The Game? It’s been awhile. Unlike the guy in Gift, Gurgeh planned on coming back, at some point.

                  I wonder if they removed any Culture-specific goodies from the guy who (Spoiler) (this one’s only 10 years old or so.)

                  ends up becoming one of the cruel gas giant creatures at the end of Excession?

                  1. Gurgeh was monitored by two minds on his trip, maybe three if the living module wasn’t just a subMind of the ship.

                    As for Genar-Hofoen, I don’t know. Perhaps becoming an Affronter implies that he lost those things.

          2. As I mentioned below the AI also Gene Fixed the humans and forced them to use an artificial language of the AI’s making.

            1. The AI’s didn’t do that – multiple generations of genetic engineering freely chosen by the humans involved did. And as for the language, again the Minds *creted* Marain, they didn’t force anyone to *adopt* it.

      2. Except the humans aren’t enslaved and the Culture as a whole tends to *not* intervene – and the cultures they “destroy” tend to be the sort we wouldn’t miss anyway.

  3. There are socialist streaks in plenty of science fiction, but most of those don’t focus enough on politics or economics to be deemed “socialist.” Or even “libertarian,” for that matter.

    1. Like Star Trek. Has anyone mentioned Star Trek yet?

      1. “The Enemy Within” is the best TOS episode, by the way. It’s a fact.

        1. Is that the one where Kirk and Spock are turned into shemales?

          1. No, that’s “Turnabout Intruder.” “The Enemy Within” is about abortion.

            1. I thought “The Enemy Within” was about Kirk coming to grips with his own homosexuality.

              1. That sentence doesn’t make any sense. All heterosexual maleness derives directly from Kirk. In all temporal directions.

                1. Chuck Norris would like a word with you.

                  1. Wrong. Kirk is greater than Chuck Norris.

                2. So you’re saying all straight men are really gay?

          2. No you idiot. That’s the one where Kirk wakes up next to a Klingon guy and has to sneak him off the Enterprise before anyone notices.

            1. No, no, that’s “The Enterprise Incident.”

              1. Oh fer crying out loud….Your thinking of the one where he gets busted for his Tellarite fetish.

                Do I have to do everything around here?

            2. You sure it’s not this one?


                  1. No contest, The Doomsday Machine is the best of TOS.

      2. The original series really couldn’t be called “socialist,” because not enough information was ever provided to label the Federation that way. In fact, there are references to money, rich people (multiple times), etc.

        The later shows are another story.

        1. TNG is the hardest one for me to watch in re-runs. Not only is it overplayed in comparison to TOS or the much superior DS9, but the better seasons (2 through 4) are plagued by Roddenberry’s obvious meddling to insert socialist claptrap into the narrative.

          1. I went back to check out TNG, and couldn’t watch a lot of the episodes. I saw some recently that reminded me why I liked it originally, but the wheat / chaff ratio isn’t great.

            1. TNG is strictly middle of the pack in terms of quality and entertainment value, but the 20 and 30 somethings who grew up on it, will defend it to the hilt.

              1. TNG is strictly middle of the pack in terms of quality and entertainment value, but the 20 and 30 somethings who grew up on it, will defend it to the hilt.

                Damn straight we will.

                And let me again state it: if we get a capable director to resurrect TNG in a movie trilogy (still holding out for Nolan, in spite of Tulpa’s protests) after JJ Abrams thoroughly ruins every other SciFi, we will create a new breed of TNG fans.

                And Christoph Waltz as Q is the fucking tits and you all know it.

                1. You meant Christopher Walken, right? Because that would rule.

                  1. Picard, You’re talking to me all wrong… It’s the wrong tone. You do it again and I’ll stab you in the face with a soldering iron.

            2. I re-watched the series a couple of years ago on DVD. There are some good moments and good episodes, but it’s not great overall.

            3. There are some great moments of TNG, and it’s way more quotable than DS9 or VOY.

              1. If I have to rank,

                1. TOS
                2. DS9
                3. TNG
                4. Star Trek: The Animated Series
                5. The old Saturday morning cartoon with cats that knocked off Star Trek
                6. Voyager

                1. How was Slaughter House Five left out of the bigger category? (not Star Trek).

                2. BTW all the Star Trek series are on Netflix. Including the animated series. For soem reason that cheers me (I have maybe watched seven episodes of star trek in my life, including the one where Welshy was fried by Melvar.

                3. I think I’d put the animated series over TNG. Anything that has Kzin in it, wins.

                  And say now, where’s Enterprise?

                  1. Enterwhat?

                  2. I knew I was leaving out something. I spent too much time ripping on Voyager. I’d put it after TNG–I liked it okay in the last season.

                4. You must have had some traumatic experiences in your formative years, ProLib.

                5. I endorse Pro Libertate’s list — especially the part where he leaves Enterprise off the rankings.


                    1. I liked Voyager, but preferred DS9.

                      As a military commander, Janeway would have mopped the galaxy with Kirk or Picard (or both of them.)

                    2. I think I’ve just been out-trolled. Curse you, Aresen!

                    3. I’ll show you how it’s done, Fist:

                      Enterprise was the best series, and Generations was way better than Wrath of Khan

                    4. Janeway managed to survive seven years in hostile space with a tiny ship and no support.

                      Picard was rocking the fucking flagship and he still set course for the nearest starbase at the end of 7/10 episodes.

                    5. I liked Voyager the best, followed by TNG, but I agree that Enterprise doesn’t deserve a place. It’s an alternate universe, at best.

                    6. Wasn’t the entire series Enterprise just Commander Riker and Troi messing around in the holodeck?

                    7. You’re all morons.

                      JOLENE BLALOCK. Your arguments are invalid.

                    8. That’s wrong on so many levels, starting with the heresy against your god, William Shatner.

                    9. We seem to have forgotten Jeri Ryan.

                    10. Nobody has forgotten Jeri Ryan, the series may have sucked, but she lives on in our stirring loins.

                6. The cats in that series were officially the Kzinti, the cat race from Larry Niven’s Ringworld series meaning that effectively the 2 universes are somehow related

          2. Too late I realized that the only real wealth in the universe is not being vaporized by Data.

          3. superior DS9

            So it is a Star “Trek” in a space “station”…..

          4. Which is shame, because TNG provided the best collectivist (and by extension, socialist) villain ever: the Borg. In fact, some of Geordi’s lines to Hugh in the “I, Borg” episode would be perfect retorts to current Democratic thinking.

        2. The original series should have been called The Kirk & Friends Show, because that’s what it really was. It was Kirk and his pals tooling around the universe blowing up strange spinning probes, banging every alien chick he could find, and forcing all aliens to speak English or die. especially the Klingons.

          1. And you have a problem with that?

    2. Go read Neal Asher’s latest, The Departure. He brings some serious hate for government and the one in the book is an unabashedly totalitarian one that uses techniques right out of the TEAM BLUE playbook. The butthurt in the Amazon comments from clearly left-leaning fans is epic.

  4. Why should anyone care what some socialist thinks? Perhaps this guy should worry a bit more about the millions of deaths his little ideoogy has caused.

    1. But those weren’t true socialists.

  5. It’s so sad how many people think Ayn Rand was pro libertarian (or even pro liberty):

    Q: Do you think Libertarians communicate the ideas of freedom and capitalism effectively?

    AR: I don’t think plagiarists are effective. I’ve read nothing by Libertarians (when I read them, in the early years) that wasn’t my ideas badly mishandled?that is, the teeth pulled out of them?with no credit given. I didn’t know whether to be glad that no credit was given, or disgusted. I felt both. They are perhaps the worst political group today, because they can do the most harm to capitalism, by making it disreputable. I’ll take Jane Fonda over them. [Earlier during this same Q&A period, AR had been asked about Jane Fonda. For the question and her answer, see below, p. 80.] [OC 80]

    Q: Why don’t you approve of libertarians, thousands of whom are loyal readers of your works?

    AR: Because libertarians are a monstrous, disgusting bunch of people: they plagiarize my ideas when that fits their purpose, and denounce me in a more vicious manner than any communist publication when that fits their purpose. They’re lower than any pragmatists, and what they hold against Objectivism is morality. They want an amoral political program. [FHF 81]

    1. Rothbard had her number

      … another reason for [for the extremely high turnover among Randian disciples] was the very fact that the movement had a rigid line on literally every subject, from aesthetics to history to epistemology. In the first place it meant that deviation from the correct line was all too easy: Preferring Bach, for example, to Rachmaninoff, subjected one to charges of believing in a “malevolent universe.” … Secondly, it is difficult to impose a rigid line on every area of life and thought when, as was the case with Rand and her top disciples, they were largely ignorant of these various disciplines. Rand admitted that reading was not her strong suit, and the disciples, of course, were not allowed to read the real world of heresies even if they had been inclined to do so. And so the young convert ? and they were almost all young ? began to buckle when he learned more about his own chosen subject. Thus, the historian, upon learning more his subject, could scarcely rest content with long outdated Burkhardtian clich?s about the Renaissance, or the pap about the Founding Fathers. And if the disciple began to realize that Rand was wrong and oversimplified in his own field, it was easy for him to entertain fundamental doubts about her infallibility elsewhere.

      1. she suffered from hero worship and fervently believed in the great man theory. 2 reasons why she wasn’t of a libertarian mindset. but these are the 2 reasons why her book is successful at freeing up minds.

      2. Anarchy, as a political concept, is a naive floating abstraction: . . . a society without an organized government would be at the mercy of the first criminal who came along and who would precipitate it into the chaos of gang warfare. But the possibility of human immorality is not the only objection to anarchy: even a society whose every member were fully rational and faultlessly moral, could not function in a state of anarchy; it is the need of objective laws and of an arbiter for honest disagreements among men that necessitates the establishment of a government.

        Ayn Rand, “The Nature of Government,”
        The Virtue of Selfishness, 112

        1. a society without an organized government would be at the mercy of the first criminal who came along and who would precipitate it into the chaos of gang warfare.

          From this you extend Rands version of government to one that hands you an Obamaphone and wipes your bottom when you are finished on the potty.

          Weak tea Mary!

      3. Rothbard v Rand strikes me as being similar to fight between two blind men over whether glaucoma or cataracts is preferable.

        1. Both of them got a lot more right than wrong, but when they were wrong, they went all in on it.

          1. True. It’s not so much that they were wrong on certain things (occupational hazard of being a public intellectual), but that both were so damned insufferable and intolerant of dissent from their personal viewpoints.

            Some epistemological humility would be nice.


        As far as Objectivists go, these are the “good guys.” They consider the philosophy to be an open system.

        As for the “bad guys” who are ideologically intolerant and tend to drive more people away than they’d ever bring in, see Peikoff, et. al.

        1. That’s interesting you should point that out. Even the ARI (Peikoff’s Palace) has basically accepted that Objectivism is a part of the modern libertarian movement. NOBODY wants to further indulge Peikoff’s ridiculousness. Just waiting for him to die.

          1. Indeed. His method of “join or die” is not a recipe for success.

      5. Rothbard didn’t have any number or any concept of brevity apparently. Rothbard was human shit.

        1. Rothbard was the greatest libertarian of the last century.

          1. Rothbard is relevant only to internal debates within the libertarian movement. As far as bringing people into the movement, Rand eclipses him by far, despite her refusing to recognize her kinship with it. F. A. Hayek and Milton Friedman also far surpass Rothbard in importance, and if you’re counting “sense of life” rather than overt political positions, so does Robert Heinlein.

            In general, while I disagree with Rand on some issues, as far as her followers go, I’ll take the Randroids over the Rothbots any day.

        2. Just like all those Japanese at Hiroshima, right Cyto?

    2. Post hoc reasoning combined with partisan blinders.

      That, and she’s one of THEM.

    3. What, she invented classical liberalism? I like her stuff okay, but that’s absurd.

      1. Everything I have read by Rand and about her by people who knew her well screams Narcissistic Personality Disorder.

        1. With lots of rape fantasies.

            1. Pretty much, now that you mention it. In fact, I’m going to rely exclusively on Episiarch for all of my questions about Rand in the future.

            2. It’s a wonder I’m not an Objectivist.

              1. Ayn Rand would not let you fuck her.

              2. Really, how did that happen? Egomaniacal rape fetishist, with delusions of grandeur–check.

                1. I’m not sure. Maybe it’s because I don’t like trains.

                  1. So you couldn’t be a Democrat, either.

              3. It’s a wonder I’m not an Objectivist.

                Misery hates company.

        2. Everything I have read by Rand and about her by people who knew her well screams Narcissistic Personality Disorder.

          And everytime you reach for this it screams ‘I got nothing’.

      2. And notice how her beef is almost completely personal. “They don’t give me credit!” is basically her whole issue

    4. Most of Rand’s ideas are derived from Nietzsche and Stirner, so that’s pretty hypocritical of her.

      1. Rand didn’t like Nietzsche except in whee doses.

        1. What the fuck? Did you ever read the original version of We the Living?

          1. Rand explicitly states in her…journals I think that she thought Nietzsche got most things wrong but she liked his emotional appeals to The Great Man. It was in the appendix of The Fountainhead.

    5. While she was a little…OTT here, libertarianism at the time had a lot more influence from degenerates like Rothbard, and so merited much of this criticism.

      1. Rothbard plagarized Rand? I don’t consider myself a Rothbardite, nor do I hate Rand (I think both were flawed, but contributed some good ideas) but that’s ridiculous

      2. Sieg Heil, Cyto!

      3. Rand had a ridiculous aspect to her personality where she was envious of those who troddened the well worn ground of freedom oriented thought before she did. She once accused Rothbard of plagiarizing an idea that she considered originating from her pretty little head. Rothbard wrote Von Mises about the affair, and the great economist thought it ludicrous. He pointed to some excerpts from his own work from the 1920’s where the same idea was elaborated, and further explained the idea she claimed she owned was old when Von Mises was writing about it. I actually like Rand’s rhetorical style in her short essays, and I think the Fountainhead quite a good read, but still, what a silly old bat she could be at times.

        1. Short story Anthem is actually my favorite fiction by Rand, simple concept of individualism with very direct ethical summations (most no more than a sentence or paragraph long). It’s unadorned, less pretentious, and less preachy than her larger works.

          I only got to it recently, but think it should be the Rand starter for the completely ignorant.

  6. “British Trotskyist (of strongly libertarian bent)”
    Pretty sure something doesn’t belong there.

    1. One of our biggest problems is that people have no fucking idea what libertarianism means.

      1. True, it is a fucking tough purity test the LP has.

        1. Palin’s Buttplug| 2.19.13 @ 5:48PM |#
          “True, it is a fucking tough purity test the LP has.”

          Yeah, raging lefties really don’t pass.

        2. True, it is a fucking tough purity test the LP has.

          yeah when one incorrectly criticizes it for being nihilist generally they do not get the golden monical.

          Of course most people are all over the fucking map with what libertarianism is.

          I remember advocating the legalization of steroids to a pot smoking Democrat…I used the same argument one would make for legalizing pot..his rebuttal was to call me a socialist.

        3. True, it is a fucking tough purity test the LP has.

          Yeah, it’s hard to consider someone a libertarian who has never taken a libertarian stance in his life…


      2. people have no fucking idea what libertarianism means.

        Whose fault is that?

        1. I give up. Whose fault is it?

          1. Ooops!
            Comment which I answered gone missing! Mary, was that you?

    2. Ah, yes The Stone Canal where the “libertarian” antagonist enslaves billions of uploaded human minds in a parallel processing computer array in order to rip open spacetime, which leads to the founding of a “libertarian” paradise world that is filthy, dangerous, literally covered in advertising and everyone is as mercenary as humanly possible to the point of cruelty… which is contrasted in The Cassini Division with a gentle “voluntary” communism that has freed man from evils of consumerism and has healed the Earth of capitalist climate damage.

      1. I’ve not read MacLeod’s work—too many books, too little time—but I was wondering how someone with the nickname of “Red Ken” could be considered a libertarian. It seemed jarring enough that it cast a lot of doubt on the rest of the recommendations.

        1. I’ve enjoyed pretty much all his work (I’m good at compartmentalizing politics from art) but to call him a libertarian is an amazing perversion of the term. He’s a Wobbly, FFS!

          1. (I’m good at compartmentalizing politics from art)

            Ditto; I at least try to. Otherwise I couldn’t stand, say, the Pretenders. Or RATM.

            Backl to Sci-Fi, I love Stross’s stuff, and his work has touches of libertarianism (if only to take the piss on it: see, his hilarious “Take That” explanation of the development of the Septagon system in Iron Sunrise) but I’d never think of him as a libertarian.

            It just seemed really weird for Mieville to characterize MacLeod as libertarian.

    3. That applies pretty to Hitchens as well.

      There are good arguments against the private ownership of All. Propertarian absolutists like to excommunicate from libertarians anyone who doesn’t make a fetish of Property.

      I’d say instead that both Propertarian Absolutists and Left Libertarians aren’t libertarian enough – both have flawed conceptions of property that leave them advocating violating the rights of others.

      1. I like it when they use “Propertarian.” It’s nice when they signal they are worth reading any further.

        1. It looks a lot like “Poopertarian”, which is pretty funny. Heh heh, poop.

          1. *aren’t worth* I can’t even type my insults properly. I feel like my whole world is coming apart.

            1. Don’t worry so much. You’ve never been able to type your insults properly.

              1. Fork yop, sharfbains!

      2. Your assertions are masturbortions.

  7. SF author China Mieville (The City, Embassytown)

    Is it just me, or isn’t Mieville better known for, say, Perdido Street Station or Iron Council?

    1. I picked up Perdido as a teenager and loved it. I read Council shortly after. I even have a novel he wrote for the tween crowd.

      He’s a great writer, and his science fiction is really fantastical stuff, as good sci fi should be. But like most, he’s a little ignorant regarding political philosophy.

      1. I read Perdido Street Station and would say it’s more science fantasy than science fiction. I didn’t really enjoy it, though I admit it’s creative as hell.

      2. I suspect China Mieville is almost certainly very well-read in specialized areas of political philosophy.

        Perdido is stunning.

        I just started The Scar a few days ago. What I don’t get is that the Armada, who apparently are supposed to be kind of the good guys?, seem to be more or less a minarchist, if not an-cap, society. Everybody’s free, everybody’s trading (except for the part that’s pirating, obviously). I wonder what Mieville thinks capitalism is.

        1. I suspect China Mieville is almost certainly very well-read in specialized areas of political philosophy.

          He has a Doctorate in International Relations and specializes in Socialist Law.

  8. Not sure why SF should matter to anyone as anything outside its entertainment value — and to be frank, not much of the stuff I’ve read recently in the genre qualifies as entertaining.

    Maybe SF writers should stop patting each other on the back for “exploring” the correct socio-political views, and get to writing SF that’s actually entertaining.

    1. As Thomas M. Disch put it: Science fiction is the dreams are stuff is made of. Visions of the future shape our future; what is more vital than that?

      1. Is it really the case that SF shapes the future, or is it simply that as a genre which concerns itself with the future, some of its predictions incidentally come true through no fault of its own?

        I don’t see that SF deserves or is enriched by being given special license to talk down to its audience about certain social values at the expense of a good story.

        1. Anything can be ruined by the injection of politics.

        2. To a very large extent the Science Fiction of the early (Verne, Wells, etc) and golden ages (Heinlein, Asimov, etc) did make the future because the children who grew up reading that sci fi in the 40’s and 50’s were inspired by it to pursue careers in science and engineering in the 50’s and 60’s leading to many of the technological improvements we take for granted today.

          Unfortunately I havn’t read a ton of current Sci Fi but I suspect from what I have read that it is more likely to inspire kids to go on to become sociologists concerned about gender relations in a post capitalist society or some such crap.

    2. and to be frank, not much of the stuff I’ve read recently in the genre qualifies as entertaining.


      1. I read Cyroburn weekend before last and thought it was horrible. It was blatantly based on the Mortgage meltdown in the U.S. and I only finished it out of a sense of duty rather than any interest in where the book was going.

        1. Cryoburn? Help me out… is that the 193rd Vorkosigan books or the 194th?

        2. You need to pick better scifi, tarran.

        3. Cryoburn was easily the worst Vorkosigan novel.

        4. I put about fifty pages into it about two months ago, and did not care for how it read sequentially. Then I spent about an hour picking sentences out randomly. That was a far better experience. Fairly good word usage here and there with a nice twists and turns in phrase, and so long as those sentences did not forward the goofy plot or the sadly pedestrian character development, they tended to satiate the need for a decent sentence.

      2. Thomas Disch’s “The Priest” is a recent read that I wasn’t terribly impressed by. Everything I’ve read from Ken MacLeod has been intolerable so far, though I won’t say he’s not talented. A good portion of the books I’ve read on the list excerpted above have failed to entertain or impress.

        YMMV, but I find that authors who set as a goal to poke the eye of their readership or mainstream opinion achieve that without making their books as good as they could be. Even good authors or good books tend to fall into this trap, and SF tends to revel in that nonsense rather than avoiding it as artistic self-indulgence.

        1. I read more short stories when it comes to Sci-Fi. Ken Liu writes some good stuff.

  9. Who is Henry Galt?

    1. Lives two door down the street, drives the Saab. Why?

  10. Reading the original list, it seems to be half comprised of totalitarianism-worshipping garbage, and half of books which have nothing to do with socialist philosophy, but which the idiot author decided to superimpose his own idiotic beliefs into (like Frankenstein).

    1. like Frankenstein

      That’s Fronkensteen.

  11. Pullman is brilliant in his teaching of how Gawd is ‘The Authority’ and the ultimate enemy of freedom.

    Of course Liberty starts with oneself. Chain yourself to religion and freedom is impossible.


    1. If a divinity was the ultimate enemy of freedom, then, as the assumed creator, his/her creations wouldn’t have free will.

      Also, read some Kant.

      1. The truly “divine” would not shackle its creations.

        1. RIGHT. So if God is the ultimate enemy of freedom, He would not be God – because as you said, the truly divine would not shackle its creations.

    2. Of course Liberty starts with oneself. Chain yourself to religion TEAM BLUE and freedom is impossible.


    3. Except one of the key points of Christianity and Judaism is the concept of Free Will.

      (Not all versions agree, but most do).

      Heck, there’s a whole branch of Existentialism (the philosophy of free will) that is Christian.

    4. “Of course Liberty starts with oneself. Chain yourself to [drugs/pornography/video games/alcohol] and freedom is impossible.”

      So goes the prohibitionist mantra.

    5. Chain yourself to religion and freedom is impossible.

      Tiger Tiger burning bright
      in the forest of the night

    6. He made the same exact point about the state as well, and its intertwinement with religion.

    7. Pullman is brilliant in his teaching of how Gawd is ‘The Authority’ and the ultimate enemy of freedom.

      Of course Liberty starts with oneself. Chain yourself to religion and freedom is impossible.

      Yes, fuckstain. Your tolerance and respect of other people’s beliefs proves your libertarian tendencies. Add 10 points to your score on the libertarian purity test.

  12. “British Trotskyist (of strongly libertarian bent),…”

    The mind reels at what hideous Frankenstein’s monster of a worldview results from that combination.

  13. Heinlein’s Beyond This Horizon could be read as socialist.

    1. Heinlein was a socialist before WWII due to the influence of his first wife .

      1. He had no say in the matter?

  14. Reading this list makes me glad that I’ve never read this ass clown’s books.

    Specifically, this single description of Gene Wolfe’s writing perspective: “tragico-Catholic.”

    Who uses a term like that?

    1. Reading this list makes me glad that I’ve never read this ass clown’s books

      That’s a shame, because his books are really good, though his Samuel Delany-type writing style is an acquired taste.

      1. though his Samuel Delany-type writing style is an acquired taste.

        Are we talking Nova-type writing style or Dhalgren? Cause if it’s the latter, fuck that. What a turgid piece of 60’s inspired shit. Philip Dick thought that Dhalgren was messy and hard to follow…

        1. Tales of Neveryon is a more apt analogy.

      2. Fair enough. I’ve got limited time and there are a ton of books out there, many of which I assume are not written by people who use bullshit quasi-scientific terms that they picked up in freshman sociology, so I’ll focus elsewhere. Maybe in the future I’ll give his stuff a shot.

        That being said: To each his own! He does seem to be popular, so he must be appealing in some form to a lot of people.

  15. THE DISPOSSESSED is typical in that the socialist society it depicts clearly could not function. You subject these visions to even the barest scrutiny and they fall apart.

    Star Trek is another classic example. It’s not really a post-scarcity society. If I want a warp ship and 25000 hand phasers, can I have one? Ask Khan.

    1. Khan, can have a warp ship and 25000 hand phasers?

  16. in the mentions of star trek, no mention is made that roddenberry was LAPD, and in fact did some writing for cop shows in addition to star trek.

    star trek is essentially ‘cops in space’ in so many ways. the way kirk plays with the boundaries of the rules in order to get the job done reminds me of how wambaugh’s characters would “worry about the supreme court when it comes time to write the report”.

    one of the greatest perks of being a (single) cop are the (female) cop groupies. and kirk certainly riffs on that, with his female escapades.

    1. one of the greatest perks of being a (single) cop are the (female) cop groupies. and kirk certainly riffs on that, with his female escapades.

      So the whole “green girl” motif is your secret desire to fuck a dead body. Interesting.

      1. no. it’s about dumb lefty environmentalist chix with a cop fetish

    2. Cop groupies?


    3. Star Trek is actually pretty much Voyage under the Sea in Space.

      Most people haven’t seen the show, the similarity is uncanny. Even more so for TNG, the sub on Voyage could separate, and they had a guy just for the away parties.

    4. I thought that Star Trek’s style was more motivated by the old cowboy serials so pervasive in American television a few years prior.

      1. Rodenberry was also a writer for westerns, but that doesn’t give Dunphy an opportunity to show off how wet his badge makes the local trim.

        1. He pitched the show to Paramount as “Wagon Train in space”

          1. He pitched it to CBS, then NBC after CBS stole all his ideas of how to make a science fiction show on a TV budget. They had a pitch meeting with him that should have lasted 15 minutes. Instead it lasted a few hours with them asking exactly how he planned to do it. Then they showed him the door and went and made Lost in Space.

        2. Rodenberry was also an Army aviator, which is more like what Star Trek is than his short stint as a cop.

          1. no way. it’s way more like being a cop. going to a “call” or detail being broadcast is much like how the enterprise would go on their missions. even the way he wrapped it up with the captains log, just like the call is wrapped up with a police report. each call we go to is essentially a “problem” to be solved, much like a star trek episode. army aviator doesn’t really fit into that scheme

            1. Really? Going on a bombing run and then filing an AAR isn’t the same? He was a Looey on a B-52 in the Pacific.

              1. most of kirk’s calls don’t involve dropping bombage (or the scifi equivalent), they have to do with solving “social issues” or other problems. it’s much more like a police call “see the man, neighbor complaint ” than what an aviator does. does an aviator hang out and talk to people or does he fly overhead? sorry, but i see the correlation as much closer with police work – going to a call, talking to people, trying to “solve” the problem, then documenting it.

                1. Ehh…perhaps, but the organization of Starfleet is much closer to military than police. If Star Trek resembles police work, it’s because the police procedural is such a popular genre of fiction.

        3. it;s not how wet MY badge (and im married now, so no longer do the cop groupie thang); it’s how wet BADGES

          cop groupies are simply a wonderful perk of the job.

          in kirkland, for example, there are plenty of young hawt baristas, aerobix instructors etc. who simply want to schtup you if you are a cop. i played in a band throughout college and some years after/before, and cop groupies are like band groupies – persistent and a really good time

          1. Can’t really speak much to American cops (who in my limited experience have been professional and more or less courteous), but the opposite is true in Latin America. If you’re a cop in one of those countries, you’re considered either a loser who couldn’t hack it somewhere else, or someone psychologically predisposed to lording power over others. In either case, it’s not considered a noble profession as it is in the US, and there is no expectation of a cop comporting to a code of conduct. Most cops are just lazy; some are truly dangerous. The cops’ union in PR, for example, threatened supporters of Gov Luis Fortuno on account of his suggested cuts to the bloated agency. Subsequently, there aren’t really “cop groupies” in LA in the sense that you’re talking about.

            The US government is ceaselessly stupid, but it’s not endemically corrupt at the lower levels along the lines of Latin American bureaucracy. While there’s nothing wrong with desiring rule of law or highlighting stories of police malfeasance, it’s a sliding scale and the US is head and shoulders above the places where I grew up.

            1. interesting stuff, thanks. personally, i think US cops are on the whole quite good, and often heroic and quite excellent, but YMMV. i have done a LOT of mexico traveling, though, and i totally agree about mexican cops. scary

          2. We call those women “mattress for the boches”.

      2. many have referred to cops as the last american cowboys.

        there is a deputy sheriff guy author who writes on this subject, but his name escapes me.

        1. Donald Harstadt? Though he hasn’t wrote anything for years.

    5. Cop groupies are just girls with a bondage fetish that don’t want to admit it.

      1. A gay friend once told me it was a pretty big status thing in their community to date a cop. I don’t know if he also had to be into leather.

        1. The few cop fuckers I’ve known were some of the dumbest women I’ve come across.

          1. Fucking someone because he wears a uniform is an act of an emotionally damaged person playing out a sick power fantasy.

            Shocking that public servants would take advantage of that.

            1. Fucking someone because he wears a uniform is an act of an emotionally damaged person playing out a sick power fantasy.


            2. having sex with a person who wants to have sex with you because they have a cop fetish is a good thing. spare me the INCREDIBLY UNLIBERTARIAN idea that we are taking advantage of somebody. people make their own beds, choose their sexual partners through free will and the sexual marketplace. it’s called freedom.

        2. not a lot of “out” homosexual cops but we have a few. my understanding is that it substantially increases SMV – sexual market value.

          of course that’s true in the hetero community among a substantial # of wimmins.

          there are plenty of them who hate cops, of course, but it’s surprising how many women dig them. cops, like firefighters, consistently punch above weight class when it comes to sexual partners ime

      2. i think that’s a BIG part of it. wanting to see the badge/gun/baton and play dress up games are certainly well within cop groupie behavioral patterns

    6. one of the greatest perks of being a (single) cop are the (female) cop groupies.

      Why am i reminded of that scene from the “Bad Lieutenant” when Harvey Keitel pulls over those underage girls?

  17. Why were you at i09, Katherine? i09 is comically horrible.

  18. There should be no confusion that the Culture is a fascist state.

    Gene fixing and an imposed artificial language should be a dead give away.

    1. Good, someone else gets it.

  19. They left out the number one piece of socialist sci-fi: The Foundation Trilogy, by Issac Asimov.

    The book whose premise is that a sufficiently intelligent “psycho-historian” can accurately predict and PLAN the entire future of the human race over a 1000-year trajectory. Written before the concepts of chaos theory were invented the book is masturbatory material for central planners everywhere. Indeed, Paul Krugman himself revealed that he (oh so privately) thinks of himself as a modern Hari Seldon.…..-economics

    1. I read all those books as a teenager. I remember absolutely nothing about them, except that some sort of space-hermaphrodite ended up saving the galaxy. Fuck Asimov.

      1. You mean the mule? I thought he died and everything got magically back on track.

        1. I thought the robot god that runs the galaxy needed to steal the space-hermaphrodite’s brain, so he manipulated the heroes into fetching him.

          1. i read it, and i frankly can’t remember anything about it, compared to other stuff i read in the same period. seems to not have much staying power, frankly.

            i seem to recall (despite not having formed much political sensibility at the time) recoiling against asimov’s political bent, when reading some of his stuff.

            of course, having read einstein’s (in)famous essay on socialism, i guess i was somewhat aware that just because one was super smaht and sciency and shit doesn’t mean one has any understanding of the human condition, which is why so many could fall for socialist bullshit

    2. I don’t think Asimov was doing anything more than playing with an idea. One could argue–as has been done here many times previously–that the Spacers were in most regards libertarians. He portrays them as mild antagonists to collectivist Earth, but he makes it clear that Earth is a mess. And he wasn’t promoting libertarianism, either.

  20. The most overtly political of this anarchist writer’s excellent works. An examination of the relations between a rich, exploitive capitalist world and a poor, nearly barren (though high-tech) communist one.

    turns out that the rich exploitative world is more moral and tolerant then the failed anarchy of the socialist world….note the socialist world cannot be a true anarchy as it always fails into socialism.

    China needs to reread the book.

    Also how is this book more political then the radical gender politics of “The Left Hand of Darkness”?

    1. The Dispossessed is three shades of dull. Didn’t care about the hairy characters, didn’t care what was happening, didn’t get the point.

      1. I loved it.

        But yeah i will admit I never went back a reread it. Perhaps it was just one of those books that you read at a particular time in your life.

  21. Fuck me, I should not have taken a peek at the io9 comments.

    1. Never, ever read those comments. I can do it, but it took years of training and tardbaffles to be able to survive.

      As little as the writers at i09 know about science fiction, the commenters make them look like geniuses.

      But, oh, if you bring up Dr. Who they can discourse for fucking days on that dreck.

      1. Dr. Who is awful. It’s like a neverending audio-visual feed for a really bad SF short story anthology.

        1. Awfully badass.

      2. Dr. Who: science fiction for 8-year-olds.

        1. It WAS started as an educational children’s show. That’s where the time travel angle came from, as an excuse for the protagonist to interact with historical figures.

        2. Do you want to be murdered?

        3. You shouldn’t generalize about Doctor Who. A certain amount of cheesiness is a necessary component of greatness. Taking anything too seriously is a mistake.

        4. Or my paternal grandma who passed away at 93. She was a huge fan of the show.

      3. Dr. Who’s theme song is pretty cool.

        I’ve never seen a reason to watch past that.

        1. Well the theme song is like 20 minutes long.

          1. It goes well with mushrooms.

        2. You’re hurting my feeling.

          1. feelings, i’m crying now

      4. Doctor Who is foreign so therefore it is automatically superior.

    2. Never read the comments anywhere in Gawkermedia. I don’t know if commenting there makes you retarded, or if you have to prove you’re retarded before you comment there, but the whole place is toxic to rational thought.



  22. I am surprised that “Hard to be a God” did not make the list….

    The book obviously influenced the work of Banks and LaGuin.

  23. That’s what constantly puzzles me about popular culture – nowadays, a crushing totalitarian state is somehow viewed as a good thing.

    1. Because if you talk to such people their primary fear is that other people are the primary threats to their liberty and the government is what protects them from the oppression of voluntary association. Government can not be oppressive because we all share in the decision making.

      1. That’s exactly want they want us to think.

    2. Once TOP MEN are in charge then Utopia will spring. We must eliminate the Republican and libertarians wreckers and saboteurs who are in the way of progress.

    3. You want to know what’s really awful about modern socialists? They think the authoritarianism is a good thing. I disagreed vehemently with Orwell’s political opinions, but he at least thought authoritarianism was evil. He just didn’t realize that socialism inevitably creates an authoritarian state.

      Modern socialists, on the other hand, see the authoritarianism as the goal.

      1. Only if the top man is benevolent, you know, like Obama.

  24. Gene Wolfe?The Fifth Head of Cerberus (1972)

    Wolfe is a religious Republican

    He is? I had no idea.

    I like his work but i don’t get the whole secrets of the unreliable narrators thing. either the plot elements are really obvious to me and i don’t see how i was fooled or i am completely fooled and don’t catch any of them.

    Severian screwed his own grandmother to become his own grandfather right?

    1. Severian screwed his own grandmother to become his own grandfather right?

      Yes (or was it his mother?) and maybe?

      The Sorcerer’s House is decent. I can never decide how I feel about Wizard Knight. I’ve read it three times, but I don’t what the point of writing was.

  25. Nothing about Harrison Bergeron?
    Vonnegut certainly wasn’t anyone’s idea of a libertarian, but hey, we’ll take what we can get.

  26. I don’t know how you all can go on and on about this when DANICA PATRICK WON THE POLE FOR THE DAYTONER FIVE DOUBLE AUGHT

    1. The who won the what for the what?

      1. She won a pole dancing competition or something.

    2. She’s a good interview, also.
      Her description of how to set up and handle the car to get the max out of it was very interesting.

    3. Well she can win my pole anytime she wants

  27. Anyone else love the pulpier scifi?

    1. Absolutely, I love the neo-pulp movement. Have you read anything from Beat to a Pulp?

      1. Nope. Mostly just read anything Baen puts out.

        1. Can we all agree that Honor Harrington is awful drek? The early ones had some small redeeming features, but holy christ.

          1. Can we all agree that Honor Harrington is awful drek?

            Hey, Weber’s gotta eat. I find Ringo’s “Let’s kill all the Space Muslims” books to be even bigger drek.

            1. Space Muslims? Which one is that?

              1. Sorry, I was thinking of this guy, who wrote some books with Ringo.

                1. That link is broken, but I know you mean Tom Kratman. Yeah, he does not like the Muslims. Not even a little bit.

                  1. Yep. I’m no friend of fundamentalist Islam, but fantasies of genocide isn’t where I go for escapist entertainment.

                    1. Hey, hey, he only used the one nuke. Actually now it’s turned into Kratman Carrera defends Panama Balboa from the nefarious EU TU.

                      His new series is decent. He’s got a bunch of ex US Military organized into a pocket army that goes around doing all the things Kratman would like to do. Their currently using nifty SF hijinks to take down Venezuela.

                    2. An A-Team-like group of filibusters righting wrongs while the State Dept. and Top Brass chase after them could be entertaining in the right hands.

          2. I still read them. I know what you mean though, hopefully the new story arc will let him rediscover some of the magic. He needs to kill people off more. Oyster Bay was a good start on that, but you need to have that feel of “anyone can die” to make a great war story. Think John Ringo or George RR Martin.

            1. Whoa, whoa, whoa. I’m not saying I don’t read them, just that they’re awful.

              The politics and mass psychology of the recent turn are retarded. Well, at least the mass psychology of “hey, let’s end this 20+ year war and become allies!” The Obama administration has made the Solarian League politicians seem more realistic.

              1. Eh, he’s done an ok job with it, considering. From what I heard Honor was supposed to die at the Battle of Manticore, and her children would pick up the war against the Sollies. But Flint’s Torch series accelerated the timetable, so now he’s writing catchup. Which means he needed to create the Talbott Cluster just to give him a casus belli. It’s a bit of a mess.

                There’s been references to a lot of the Havenites not being comfortable, but you gotta remember Pritchart is like George Washington at this point. Plus the one thing Manticore and Haven do agree on is that Mesa would look wonderful with a glowing crater pattern.

        2. You should check them out. The prices are cheap and the stories are great. I normally don’t like Westerns much, for example, but Adventures of Cash Laramie and Gideon Miles is great!

    2. Heinlein is always fun. One of my first English-language reads (pulp of all kinds, btw, is a fantastic genre for people trying to learn another language IMO).

      “Tunnel in the Sky” is a personal favorite.

    3. Absolutely! Double novels and those multi-author/multi-story scifi novels were my bread and butter growing up. To this day, I still consider “The Silkie” by A.E. van Vogt to be one of the best short science fiction stories I’ve ever read.

      (And in Googling it, I just learned that it was made into a full novel. TO THE AMAZONDOTCOMS!)

    4. Depends on what you consider pulp; Berserker by Saberhagen, everything EE Doc Smith, that type of stuff? I started on the space opera stuff, but ran into better works like Gateway and Ender’s Game by accident. Those sort of novels led me to Greg Bear, Arthur C. Clark, and others that might be considered harder sci-fi.

      I think Heinlein is way over rated, both writing and ideas. Asimov was a good big idea guy, but his execution was actually pretty poor as well, not that it matters with ideas like the Foundation series and all its prequels. The image of the bureaucracy planet Trantor will never leave my mind. I don’t see any mentions of Philip K Dick, Man in the High Castle was the first alternate history I read. Whatever one says about Dick, his ideas spawned a lot of movies.

  28. Stations of the Tide, anyone? Technology embargo against planet, protagonist is a Top Man regulator known only as “The Bureaucrat.” It’s pretty good.

  29. For what it’s worth, I thought Look to Windward was an absolutely fantastic discussion of unintended consequences.

    1. Yep, the Chelgrians sure got their blowback at the end.

    2. One thing that I would like to point out is that the motivation and justification of special circumstances are identical to those of the Bush Doctrine.

      Ironic that Bank’s opposed the Iraq War.

  30. I don’t get it.

  31. Over three hundred comments on the topic of Socialist Science Fiction, and no one’s yet mentioned Allen Steele’s awful, masturbatory, Team Red wish-fulfillment Coyote series of novels, yet…?

    1. Oops. Make that “Team BLUE wish-fulfillment,” obviously.

  32. Gosh, it is nice to know that all these socialist and trotskyite novelists are writing wonderful books. And even nicer for Mangu Ward to point out how “libertarian” they are. And a big thanks to Mangu Ward for pointing out that the ONLY novelist on her short list who is an individualist (and who proposes a society where I get to keep my fucking property) wrote a “vile and ponderous novel.” Funny that this vile and ponderous novel keeps selling millions of copies and striking a cord with new generations of libertarians. I guess rational individualists are just vile and ponderous people.

    Now if you’ll excuse me I have to go finish this wonderful socialist sci fi novel which depicts a future where women are all whores for the state. Not to worry: the author has a “libertarian bent.”

    1. Those quotes you are taking issue with are from the rather mushy headed China Mieville, not KMW.

  33. Only one mention of 1984 and none of Brave New World, I consider them both a part a starter set for thinking about societal evolutions. I see shadows of both in Socialist tactics today, the language controls in 1984 are surprisingly similar to Democrats twisting of language today.

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