Red Peppers tio SF-favoriter – en klar dag kan man se revolutionen

Red Pepper är en radikal brittisk tidskrift som skriver så här om sig själva:

Red Pepper is a bi-monthly magazine and website of left politics and culture. We’re a socialist publication drawing on feminist, green and libertarian politics. We seek to be a space for debate on the left, a resource for movements for social justice, and a home for anyone who wants to see a world based on equality, meaningful democracy and freedom.

Red Pepper is completely independent, and whilst not rejecting party politics, seeks to help build the kind of pluralistic, dynamic movements which can fundamentally challenge our economic system, with its entrenched injustice, structures of power and oppression, and tendency towards war and environmental destruction. Although based in London, we have links around Britain, and have always covered events and perspectives from outside the capital.

Jag citerade i ett annat inlägg tidningens intervjuer med några kända SF-författare med hjärtat till vänster. De beskrev på ett bra sätt varför jag tycker om science-fiction. Tidningen har också gjort en lista på 10 favoriter bland SF-böcker:

  • Iron Council, China Miéville
  • Body of Glass, Marge Piercy
  • The Star Fraction, Ken MacLeod
  • White Queen, Gwyneth Jones
  • The Dispossessed, Ursula K Le Guin
  • Swastika Night, Katharine Burdekin, writing as Murray Constantine
  • Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury
  • Babel-17, Samuel R Delany
  • Culture Series, Iain M Banks
  • Forty Signs of Rain, Kim Stanley Robinson

CultureTre av mina favoritförfattare i genren finns med på listan, Ursula K. LeGuin, Iain M Banks och Ken MacLeod. Om Iain M Banks Cultureserie skriver Red Pepper så här:

Banks just has to be included here but it’s pretty much impossible to select one from among the ten books in the decades-spanning Culture series. What Star Trek would have been if the Federation was organised on anarchist principles and the Enterprise was a living ship guided by a prodigious artificial intelligence with a nice line in wry humour, the Culture universe is a provocative playground for committed post-humanists. The sad news of Banks’ death means the series is at a close, but these books will be read, re-read, pondered and critiqued long after the rest of us have returned to galactic dust.

The Star FractionCulture-serien är bland det bästa som skrivits i SF-genren. Bland de bästa är förstås också The Dispossessed av Ursula K. LeGuin, från vilken bok namnet på denna blogg hämtats. Men jag tycker Left Hand of Darkness är hennes bästa bok. Värt att citera är också det som Red Pepper skriver om Ken MacLeods The Star Fraction:

First in the ‘Fall Revolutions’ series and a somewhat wry dig at the factionalisation of the left in the wake of neoliberalism. A near-future UK is split into mini-states with competing ideologies; a small part of north London exists as a libertarian/anarchist enclave and the green eco-warriors are armed and dangerous. Riffing on cyberpunk’s preoccupation with artificial intelligence and its ubiquitous multi-functioning mirrorshades (here called ‘glades’), The Star Fraction is part send-up of conspiracy theorising paranoia and part serious call-to-arms for an entrenched left. ‘On a clear day,’ writes MacLeod, ‘you can see the revolution.’

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Böcker om marxism och science-fiction

Det finns ett par betydande nutida böcker som diskuterar marxism och science-fiction. Jag har inte läst dem men när jag gjort det ämnar jag återkomma i ämnet. De böcker jag tänker på är Fredric Jamesons Archaeologies of the FutureThe Desire Called Utopia and Other Science Fictions (2005) och Red Planets: Marxism & Science Fiction (2009) med China Miéville och Mark Bould som redaktörer.

Archaelogies of the FutureOm Jamesons bok skriver Matthew Beaumont i vänstertidskriften International Socialism så här:

As its title insists, Archaeologies of the Future represents a self-conscious, and triumphantly self-confident, attempt to find traces of an alternative future that lie embedded in the alienated cultural forms of the present. The first section, an essay on “The Desire Called Utopia”, asks whether culture can be political, “which is to say critical and subversive”, or whether it is instead “necessarily reappropriated and co-opted by the social system of which it is part”. There Fredric Jameson carefully sifts the dialectical relationship of the ideological and the utopian. He insists that, after the convulsive shift signalled by the rise of neoliberalism, “the commitment to imagining possible Utopias as such”, as opposed to the outdated or perhaps simply untimely attempt to create utopian blueprints, is itself potentially emancipatory.

This substantial section of almost 250 pages is written with Jameson’s characteristic skill. Without ever quite losing his exhilarated and finally exhausted reader, he pursues sophisticated and often intricately argued points both across vast tracts of theoretical and historical reflection and through dense though colourful passages of textual analysis. Among the former there is an especially interesting engagement with Theodor Adorno. Among the latter there are fascinating interpretations of utopists, as they are sometimes called, from Thomas More through William Morris to Stanislaw Lem.

This utopian corpus is elaborated and further explored in the second section of Archaeologies of the Future, entitled “As Far as Thought Can Reach”. Most of its chapters have in fact been published previously, but this book makes readily available for the first time a pioneering body of criticism on science fiction and related forms—most of them originally published in comparatively specialist journals, such as Science Fiction Studies—over the past 35 years.

There are fascinating articles in this section on Brian Aldiss, Ursula Le Guin, Philip K Dick and others, all of them in some respect illustrative of the provocative but convincing claim that science fiction’s “deepest vocation is to bring home, in local and determinate ways and with a fullness of concrete detail, our constitutional inability to imagine Utopia itself”. The name of this “constitutional inability to imagine Utopia” is ideology. So imagining the unimaginable Utopia is, according to Jameson, an attempt to traverse the limits of ideology—like a spaceship struggling to escape a planet’s gravitational pull.

Jameson proceeds according to the principle that “the ostensible content, the manifest topic or subject matter, always masks a deeper one of an entirely different nature”. So in an essay on George Bernard Shaw’s Back to Methuselah (1921), which he provocatively couples with Robert A Heinlein’s Time Enough for Love (1973), Jameson interprets “Longevity as Class Struggle” and argues that utopian or dystopian representations of immortality are a displaced image of the class conflicts that create social contradictions in the present and that demand to be resolved collectively in the future.

Science fiction is thus for Jameson a privileged literary genre, one that has assumed the role that the historical novel played in the 19th century, because the attempt to represent society as a totality is absolutely structural to its narrative form. For the benefit of “outsiders to SF”, he emphasises that “the unique new possibilities of this representational discourse…are social, political and historical far more than they are technological or narrowly scientific”.

Red PlanetsPaul Kincaid skriver på SF-sajten SF-site om Red Planets:

Marxist thought in turn informed much of the science fiction being written, writers from Wells to the Futurians were on the political left. And from the 1970s onwards, Marxist theory became almost the default academic approach to the study of science fiction, building primarily on Darko Suvin’s notions of cognitive estrangement and the novum, ideas that are only now coming in for revision in, for example, The Seven Beauties of Science Fiction by Istvan Csicsery-Ronay Jr.

Marxist theory has been incredibly productive and valuable in the study of sf, but I have never been totally comfortable with it. For a start, as this volume demonstrates, it can be authoritarian. It is authoritarian in the obvious sense that these essays constantly appeal to authority. Names like Adorno, Benjamin, Jameson and Zizek litter the book not to raise debate but to settle it. The only time that the inarguable authority of these giant figures is disputed comes towards the end of the volume, when Althusser is pitted against Jameson (in ’Towards a Revolutionary Science Fiction: Althusser’s Critique of Historicity’ by Darren Jorgensen) and Raymond Williams is pitted against Suvin (’Utopia and Science Fiction Revisited’ by Andrew Milner); though this does no more than measure one giant authority figure against another.

It is authoritarian in other senses also. It uses a language that, in effect if not necessarily in intent, excludes many potential readers. Thus, in one of the less cluttered sentences in the entire book, Jorgensen argues:

”Jameson defers to history as the ground of his analysis while discursively constructing this history, relying on texts to construct that which is also a material horizon for the production of meaning.”

This is plain English, the words used are common and familiar, it is not an exercise in jargon, yet the sentence itself is virtually impenetrable. I have read it several times, I think I know what Jorgensen is saying, though I have still got to determine the rhetorical point in the precise placing of some of these words. Elsewhere, the specific language of Marxist theory makes many sentences in every one of the essays collected here even less plain. In other words, you have to learn Marxist theory in order to read Marxist theory, which seems to the outsider at least a recursive exercise in elitism.

And it is authoritarian in the way that, once an idea is ”theorized” (a favourite word of all the contributors), it becomes retrospectively true. This particular take on the history of ideas, for instance, allows William J. Burling (’Art as ”The Basic Technique of Life”: Utopian Art and Art in Utopia in The Dispossessed and Blue Mars’) to castigate Ursula K. Le Guin for failing, in her 1974 novel, to accommodate theories of art first formulated in 1978, and Rob Latham (’The Urban Question in New Wave SF’) to compare and contrast stories by Thomas M. Disch first written in the late 1960s with Marxist urban theories first formulated around 1975 as if they were exact contemporaries. This is not a value judgement on my part, I happen to consider the Burling one of the weakest essays in the book and the Latham one of the best, but it is a comment on the way theory is dominant. In a work that supposedly puts Marxist theory and science fiction on an equal footing, the contributors refer to many more theorists than they do sf writers. And, indeed, however radical their take on theory, their views of science fiction tend to be conventional; no-one seems to imagine any earlier work of sf than Frankenstein, no-one seeks to place science fiction within a spectrum of the fantastic (indeed all seem to regard sf as fully definable, even if they don’t all conform to Suvin’s definition), no-one cites an sf film more recent than The Matrix.

[…]

Not surprisingly, those essays which engage with specific works seem to have the most focussed and therefore the most interesting things to say: Phillip Wegner’s analysis of Ken MacLeod’s Fall Revolution quartet (and the internecine warfare between factions of the left familiar from so many of MacLeod’s stories are a good way of approaching the theory wars that seem to be glimpsed from the corner of the eye so often in this collection); Rob Latham on Disch; Steven Shaviro on Charles Stross’s Accelerando. Among the essays on film (Carl Freedman very readably comparing science fiction and film noir, John Rieder on Until the End of the World by Wim Wenders) the one that stood out for me was ’”Madonna in moon rocket with breeches”: Weimar SF Film Criticism during the Stabilisation Period’ which examines contemporary leftist film criticism of Lang’s Frau im Mond, perhaps because this is a topic I know little about.

In the end, though, and perhaps perversely given what I have said so far, the essay I most engaged with was ’Utopia and Science Fiction Revisited’ by Andrew Milner, one of the more heavily theoretical of the contributions. It uses the work of Raymond Williams to offer a contrast to Suvin’s definition of science fiction, approaching it primarily from the position that utopian literature is separate from science fiction. I don’t agree with much of what Milner has to say, I think he is too wedded to the notion that there is a hard and fast definition of science fiction that clearly differentiates it from other forms of the fantastic, a position that I believe to be increasingly difficult to sustain. Nevertheless, it is a good essay to disagree with because it is well argued and does offer an insightful way of approaching the genre.

Även på andra håll har dessa två böcker berörts, hanterats, recenserats, ofta kritiskt eller mycket kritiskt: Monthly Review, MUSE1, 2Reviews in Cultural Theory, Historical Materialism, Kasama, THE, Marx & Philosophy, Goodreads1, 2Google1, 2, Politics and Culture, Posthuman Destinies, The Future – a Rough Guide, Cosmos & History, Charles LaBelle, Paris Review, Oxford Journals, Locus Online,

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50 SF och Fantasyböcker en röd nörd bör läsa

En lista sammanställd av den socialistiska SF-författaren China Miéville. Han är medlem i US-amerikanska International Socialist Organisation och gjorde ursprungligen listan för Fantastic Metropolis. Listan hittades på The Weekly Ansible. Den publiceras också här på engelska då många av böckerna inte finns på svenska. En intervju med China Miéville finns i International Socialist Review.

Flera av de författare som nämnts i ett  tidigare inlägg om SF-författare som är vänster finns på listan. Flera författare som är vänster men som inte nämns i inlägget finns också med liksom SF-författare som är allt annat än vänster. Observera att ordet libertarian på engelska betyder anarkist (vänster) såväl som det svenska ordet libertarian (högeranarkist).

Med China Miévilles ord:

China Miéville

This is not a list of the “best” fantasy or SF. There are huge numbers of superb works not on the list. Those below are chosen not just because of their quality—which though mostly good, is variable—but because the politics they embed (deliberately or not) are of particular interest to socialists. Of course, other works—by the same or other writers—could have been chosen: disagreement and alternative suggestions are welcomed. I change my own mind hour to hour on this anyway.

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.

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).

Alexander Bogdanov — The Red Star: A Utopia (1908; trans. 1984)

This Bolshevik SF sends a revolutionary to socialist Mars. The book’s been criticized (with some justification) for being proto-Stalinist, but overall it’s been maligned. Deals well with the problem faced by someone trying to adjust to a new society s/he hasn’t helped create (see Bellamy).

Emma Bull & Steven Brust — Freedom & Necessity (1997)

Bull is a left-liberal and Brust is a Trotskyist fantasy writer.F&Nis set in the 19th Century of the Chartists and class turmoil. It’s been described as “the first Marxist steampunk” or “a fantasy for Young Hegelians.”

Mikhail Bulgakov — The Master and Margarita (1938; trans. 1967)

Astonishing fantasy set in ’30s Moscow, featuring the Devil, Pontius Pilate, The Wandering Jew, and a satire and critique of Stalinist Russia so cutting it is unbelievable that it got past the censors. Utterly brilliant.

Katherine Burdekin (aka “Murray Constantine”) — Swastika Night (1937)

An excellent example of the “Hitler Wins” sub-genre of SF. It’s unusual in that it was published by the Left Book Club and it was written while Hitler was in power, so the fear of Nazi future was immediate.

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.

Julio Cortázar — “House Taken Over” (1963?)

A terrifying short story undermining the notion of the house as sanctity and refuge. A subtle destruction of the bourgeois oppositions between public/private and inside/outside.

Philip K. Dick — A Scanner Darkly (1977)

Could have picked almost any of his books. Like all of them, this deals with identity, power, and betrayal, here tied in more directly to social structures than in some other works (though see Counter-Clock World and The Man in the High Castle). Incredibly moving.

Thomas Disch — The Priest (1994)

Utterly savage work of anti-clericalism. A work of dark fantasy GBH against the Catholic Church (dedicated, among others, to the Pope…)

Gordon Eklund — All Times Possible (1974)

Study of alternative worlds, including an examination of hypothetical Left-wing movements in alternative USAs.

Max Ernst — Une Semaine de Bonté (1934)

The definitive Surrealist collage novel. A succession of images the reader is involved in decoding. A Whodunwhat, with characters from polite commercial catalogues engaged in a story of little deaths and high adventure.

Claude Farrère — Useless Hands (1920; trans. 1926)

Bleak Social Darwinism, and a prototype of “farewell to the working class” arguments. The “useless hands”—workers—revolt is seen as pathetic before inexorable technology. A cold, reactionary, interesting book.

Anatole France — The White Stone (1905; trans. 1910)

In part, a rebuttal to the racist “yellow peril” fever of the time—a book about “white peril” and the rise of socialism. Also interesting isThe Revolt of the Angels, which examines now well-worn socialist theme of Lucifer being in the right, rebelling against the despotic God.

Jane Gaskell — Strange Evil(1957)

Written when Gaskell was 14, with the flaws that entails. Still, however, extraordinary. A savage fairytale, with fraught sexuality, meditations on Tom Paine and Marx, revolutionary upheaval depicted sympathetically, but without sentimentality; plus the most disturbing baddy in fiction.

Mary Gentle — Rats and Gargoyles (1990)

Set in a city that undermines the “feudalism lite” of most genre fantasy. An untypical female protagonist has adventures in a cityscape complete with class struggle, corruption, and racial oppression.

Charlotte Perkins Gilman — “The Yellow Wallpaper” (1892)

Towering work by this radical thinker. Terrifying short story showing how savage gender oppression can inhere in “caring” relationships just as easily as in more obviously abusive ones. See also her feminist/socialistic utopias “Moving the Mountain” (1911) andHerland(1914).

Lisa Goldstein — The Dream Years (1985)

A time-slip oscillating between Paris in the 1920s, during the Surrealist movement, and in 1968, during the Uprising. Uses a popular fantastic mode to examine the relation between Surrealism as the fantastic mode par excellence and revolutionary movements (if nebulously conceived).

Stefan Grabiński — The Dark Domain (1918–22; trans. and collected 1993)

Brilliant horror by this Polish writer. Unusually locates the uncanny and threatening within the very symbols of a modernizing industrialism in Poland: trains, electricity, etc. This awareness of the instability of the everyday marks him out from traditional, “nostalgic” ghost story writers.

George Griffith — The Angel of Revolution (1893)

Rather dated, but unusual in that its heroes are revolutionary terrorists. Very different from the devious anarchist villains of (e.g.) Chesterton.

Imil Habibi —The Secret Life of Saeed the Pessoptimist (1974; trans. 1982)

The full title is much longer. Habiby was a member of the Palestinian Community Party, a veteran of the anti-British struggle of the 40s, and a member of the Knesset for several years. This amiable, surreal book is about the life of a Palestinian in Israel (with surreal bits, and aliens).

M. John Harrison — Viriconium Nights (1984)

A stunning writer, who expresses the alienation of the modern everyday with terrible force. Fantasy that mercilessly uncovers the alienated nature of the longing for fantastic escape, and show how that fantasy will always remain out of reach. Punishes his readers and characters for their involvement with fantasy. See alsoThe Course of the Heart.

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.

Jack London — Iron Heel (1907)

London’s masterpiece: scholars from a 27th Century socialist world find documents depicting a fascist oligarchy in the US and the revolt of the proletariat. Elsewhere, London’s undoubted socialism is undermined by the most appalling racism.

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.

Gregory Maguire — Wicked (1995)

Brilliant revisionist fantasy about how the winners write history. The loser whose side is here taken is the Wicked Witch of the West, a fighter for emancipatory politics in the despotic empire of Oz.

J. Leslie Mitchell (Lewis Grassic Gibbon) — Gay Hunter(1934, reissued 1989)

By the Marxist writer of the classic work of vernacular Scots literature A Scots Quair, and Spartacus, the novel that proves that propaganda can be art. This is great science fiction. Bit dewy-eyed about hunter-gatherers perhaps, but superb nonetheless. As an added bonus, it also has a title that sounds amusing today. Check out his short fiction, which includes a lot of SF/Fantasy work.

Michael Moorcock — Hawkmoon (1967–77, reprinted in one edition 1992)

Moorcock is an erudite Left-anarchist and a giant of fantasy literature. Almost everything he’s written is of interest, but Hawkmoon is chosen here in honor of Moorcock having said about it: “In a spirit consciously at odds with the jingoism of the day, I chose a German for a hero and the British for villains.” There are also plenty of satirical references and gags about 1960s/70s politics for the reader to decode.

William Morris — News From Nowhere (1888)

A socialist (though naively pastoral) utopia, written in response to Bellamy (above), that unusually doesn’t shy away from the hard political question of how we get the desired utopia-proletarian revolution. See alsoThe Well at the World’s Endand his other fantasies.

Toni Morrison — Beloved (1987)

It’s well known that Beloved is a superb book about race and slavery and guilt, but it’s less generally accepted that it’s a fantasy. It is. It’s a ghost story that wouldn’t have half the charge without the fantastic element.

Mervyn Peake — The Gormenghast Novels (1946–59)

An austere depiction of dead ritualism and necessary transformation. Don’t believe those who say that the third book is disappointing.

Marge Piercy — Woman on the Edge of Time (1976)

A Chicano woman trapped in an asylum makes contact with a messenger from a future utopia, born after a “full feminist revolution”.

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.

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 influential—though vile and ponderous—novel.

Mack Reynolds — Lagrange Five (1979)

Reynolds was, for 25 years, an activist for the U.S. Socialist Labor Party. His radical perspective on political issues is reflected throughout his work. This book—examining a quasi-utopia without sentimentalism—is only one suggestion. Also of huge interest are Tomorrow Might Be Different (1960) and The Rival Rigelians (1960), which explicitly examine the relation between capitalism and Stalinism.

Keith Roberts — Pavane (1968)

These linked stories take place in a present day where Elizabeth I was assassinated and Spain took over Britain. This examines life in a world where a militant feudal Catholicism acts as a fetter on social and productive functions. Though Roberts was no lefty at all, and you could probably power France on the energy from his spinning grave at being included in this list.

Kim Stanley Robinson — The Mars Trilogy (1992–96)

Probably the most powerful center of gravity for Leftist SF in the 1990s. A sprawling and thoughtful examination of the variety of social relations feeding into and leading up to revolutionary change. (It’s also got some Gramsci jokes in it.)

Mary Shelley — Frankenstein, or the Modern Prometheus (1818)

Not a warning “not to mess with things that should be let alone” (which would be a reactionary anti-rationalist message) but an insistence on the necessity of grappling with forces one unleashes and the fact that there is no “innate” nature to people, but a socially-constructed one.

Lucius Shepard — Life During Wartime (1987)

Horrific vision of a future (thinly disguised Vietnam) war. Within the savage examinations of the truth of war and U.S. foreign policy, Shepard also investigates the relation between SF, fantasy, and “magic realism”, and uses their shared mode to look back at reality with passion.

Norman Spinrad — The Iron Dream (1972)

A SF novel by Adolf Hitler… Spinrad’s funny, disturbing and savage indictment of the fascist aesthetics in much genre SF and fantasy. What if Hitler had become a pulp SF writer in New York? Not a book about that possibility but a book from it. “By the same author: Triumph of the Will and Lord of the Swastika.” Brave and nasty.

Eugene Sue — The Wandering Jew (1845)

Huge book by radical socialist Sue, about the adventures of the family of the Wandering Jew of legend. Symbolic fantasy elements: the Jew is the dispossessed laborer and his partner is downtrodden woman. Marx hated Sue as a writer (not without reason—less, for Sue, is not in more) but hell, it’s an important book.

Michael Swanwick — The Iron Dragon’s Daughter (1993)

Great work that completely destroys the sentimental aspects of genre fantasy. From within the genre—fairies, elves, and all—Swanwick examines the industrial revolution, the Vietnam War, racism and sexism, and the escapist dreams of genre fantasy. A truly great anti-fantasy.

Jonathan Swift — Gulliver’s Travels (1726)

Savage attack on hypocrisy and cant that never dilutes its fantasy with its satire: the two elements feed off each other perfectly.

Alexei Tolstoy — Aelita (1922; trans. 1957)

Distant relative of the other Tolstoy. The “revised” version is less good, written in the stern environment of Stalinism. A Red Army officer goes to Mars and foments a rebellion of native Martians. Good rousing stuff, but also interesting in terms of “exporting” revolution. See also the superb avant-garde film version from 1924.

Ian Watson — Slow Birds (1985)

Left-wing author whose short story collection above includes a cold demolition of Thatcher and Thatcherism. His take on oppression—cognitive and political—informs all his rather austere, cerebral writing.

H.G. Wells — The Island of Dr Moreau (1896)

Like a lot of Wells’s work, this is an uneasy mixture of progressive and reactionary notions. It makes for one of the great horror stories of all time. A fraught examination of colonialism, science, eugenics, repression, and religion: a kind of fantasy echo of Shakespeare’sThe Tempest.

E. L. White — “Lukundoo” (1927)

One of the most utterly extraordinary (and almost certainly unconscious) expressions of colonial anxiety and guilt in the history of literature.

Oscar Wilde — The Happy Prince and Other Stories (1888)

Children’s fantasies by this romantic, socialist author. Marked by a sharp lack of sentimentality, a deeply subversive cynicism, which doesn’t blunt their ability to be intensely moving.

Gene Wolfe — The Fifth Head of Cerberus (1972)

Wolfe is a religious Republican, but his tragico-Catholic perspective leads to a deeply unglamorized and unsanitized awareness of social reality. This book is a very sad and extremely dense, complex meditation on colonialism, identity and oppression.

Yevgeny Zamyatin — We (1920; trans. 1924)

A Bolshevik, who earned semi-official unease in the USSR even in the early 1920s, with this unsettling dystopian view of absolute totalitarianism. These days often retrospectively, ahistorically, and misleadingly judged to be a critique of Stalinism.

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Science Fiction-författare som är vänster

China Miéville

China Miéville

Många SF-författare är höger, libertarianer, nyliberaler, en del nästan fascister. Många  av de som jag gillar rätt bra som författare har sådana uppfattningar, exempelvis Larry Niven (1938-), Jerry Pournelle (1933-) och S.M. Stirling (1953-). Många andra kan sägas vara politiskt indifferenta, i praktiken är de traditionellt borgerliga, dvs utifrån min synpunkt höger. Exempel på detta är kanske Isaac Asimov (1920-1992), Arthur C. Clarke (1917-2008), C.J. Cherryh (1942-) med flera.

Vänsterförfattare i vid mening är nog inte så sällsynta, Ursula K. Le Guin (1929-) och J.G. Ballard (1930-2009) måste väl anses höra dit liksom John Brunner (1934-95), Samuel R. Delany (1942-), David Dvorkin (1943-), Harlan Ellison (1934-), Ian McDonald (1960-), Michael Moorcock (1939-) som kallar sig anarkist, Kim Stanley Robinson (1952-), Joanna Russ (1937-2011), George Orwell (1903-50) och Olaf Stapledon (1886-1950).

Däremot är organsierade socialister rätt sällsynta bland SF-författarna. Den mest kände idag är nog China Miéville (1972-), medan Iain Banks (1954-) och Ken MacLeod (1954-) är kända, dock kanske inte så kända som socialister eller vänster på samma sätt som China Miéville. Båda de sistnämnda har dock varit organiserade i eller stött olika vänstergrupper och i deras böcker förekommer socialistiska och anarkistiska referenser flitigt. China Miéville var medlem i brittiska SWP fram till mars 2013 men han har lämnat organisationen med anledning av den senaste skandalen med våldtäktsanklagelser och liknande som ledningen döljt och försökt tysta ner. Idag är han medlem i US-amerikanska ISO och verksam i Chicago. I huvudsak är China Miéville en fantasyförfattare men en del av hans böcker är också SF. Steven Brust (1955-) är ytterligare en författare som är trotskist i likhet med China Miéville och Ken MacLeod.

Bland äldre SF-författare som har varit organiserade socialister märks H. G. Wells (1866-1946), Frederik Pohl (1919-) som var organiserad i Young Communist League på 1930-talet,  Mack Reynolds (1917-83) som en stor del av sitt liv var medlem i US-amerikanska Socialist Labor Party och Bernard Wolfe (1915-1985) som en tid var livvakt åt Leo Trotskij (1874-1940) i Mexico. Bernard Wolfe har bara skrivit en enda SF-roman, Limbo (1952) och bara ett par noveller, en i Gal (1951), ”Self Portrait” och två i Harlan Ellisons antologi, Again, Dangerous Visions (1972), ”The Bisquit Position” och ”The Girl with Rapid Eye Movements”. Mack Reynolds har skrivit desto mer. Bernard Wolfe slutade skriva SF-texter då han fattade avsmak för genren och den tekniska vetenskapen som varande reaktionära. SF betraktade han som den högervridna vetenskapens tjänare. Han skrev dock andra romaner och noveller, många av de senare publicerades i Playboy Magazine. Limbo anses av en del höra till de 100 bästa SF-romaner som nånsin skrivits.

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