SF-författare som är vänster – del 3

Michael Moorcock

Michael Moorcock

Många människor får ibland för sig att författare som Robert Heinlein är vänster. Det är naturligtvis ett helt vansinnigt ställningstagande. Från 1950-talet fram till 1970-talet var en majoritet av science-fictionförfattarna inte vänster på något sätt. Det gäller också många som uppges ha varit vänster som unga, exempelvis Isaac Asimov. Michael Moorcock, en SF-författare som är frihetlig anarkist skrev 1977 en text, Starship Stormtroopers, som totalt sågade en stor del av den SF som fram tills dess skrivits:

John W. Campbell, who in the late thirties took over Astounding Science Fiction Stories and created what many believe to be a major revolution in the development of sf, was the chief creator of the school known to buffs as ’Golden Age’ sf and written by the likes of Heinlein, Asimov and A.E. Van Vogt wild-eyed paternalists to a man, fierce anti-socialists, whose work reflected the deep-seated conservatism of the majority of their readers, who saw a Bolshevik menace in every union meeting. They believed, in common with authoritarians everywhere, that radicals wanted to take over old-fashioned political power, turn the world into a uniform mass of ’workers’ with themselves (the radicals) as commissars. They offered us such visions, when they attempted any overt discussion of politics at all. They were about as left-wing as The National Enquirer or The Saturday Evening Post (where their stories occasionally were to appear). They were xenophobic, smug and confident that the capitalist system would flourish throughout the universe, though they were, of course, against dictators and the worst sort of exploiters (no longer Jews but often still ’aliens’). Rugged individualism was the most sophisticated political concept they could manage — in the pulp tradition, the Code of the West became the Code of the Space Frontier, and a spaceship captain had to do what a spaceship captain had to do…

[…]

By the early fifties Astounding had turned by almost anyone’s standard into a crypto-fascist deeply philistine magazine pretending to intellectualism and offering idealistic kids an ’alternative’ that was, of course, no alternative at all. Through the fifties Campbell used his whole magazine as propaganda for the ideas he promoted in his editorials. His writers, by and large, were enthusiastic. Those who were not fell away from him, disturbed by his increasingly messianic disposition (Alfred Bester gives a good account of this). Over the years Campbell promoted the mystical, quasi-scientific Scientology (first proposed by one of his regular writers L. Ron Hubbard and aired for the first time in Astounding as ’Dianetics: The New Science of the Mind’), a perpetual motion machine known as the ’Dean Drive’, a series of plans to ensure that the highways weren’t ’abused’, and dozens of other half-baked notions, all in the context of cold-war thinking. He also, when faced with the Watts riots of the mid-sixties, seriously proposed and went on to proposing that there were ’natural’ slaves who were unhappy if freed. I sat on a panel with him in 1965, as he pointed out that the worker bee when unable to work dies of misery, that the moujiks when freed went to their masters and begged to be enslaved again, that the ideals of the anti-slavers who fought in the Civil War were merely expressions of self-interest and that the blacks were ’against’ emancipation, which was fundamentally why they were indulging in ’leaderless’ riots in the suburbs of Los Angeles! I was speechless (actually I said four words in all — ’science-fiction’ — ’psychology’ — Jesus Christ!’- before I collapsed), leaving John Brunner to perform a cool demolition of Campbell’s arguments, which left the editor calling on God in support of his views — an experience rather more intense for me than watching Doctor Strangelove at the cinema.

Starship Troopers (serialised in Astounding as was most of Heinlein’s fiction until the early sixties) was probably Heinlein’s last ’straight’ sf serial for Campbell before he began his ’serious’ books such as Farnham’s Freehold and Stranger in a Strange Land — taking the simplified characters of genre fiction and producing some of the most ludicrously unlikely people ever to appear in print. In Starship Troopers we find a slightly rebellious cadet gradually learning that wars are inevitable, that the army is always right, that his duty is to obey the rules and protect the human race against the alien menace. It is pure debased Ford out of Kipling and it set the pattern for Heinlein’s more ambitious paternalistic, xenophobic (but equally sentimental) stories which became for me steadily more hilarious until I realised with some surprise that people were taking them as seriously as they had taken, say, Atlas Shrugged a generation before — in hundreds of thousands! That middle-America could regard such stuff as ’radical’ was easy enough to understand. I kept finding that supporters of the Angry Brigade were enthusiastic about Heinlein, that people with whom I thought I shared libertarian principles were getting off on every paternalistic, bourgeois writer who had ever given me the creeps! I still can’t fully understand it. Certainly I can’t doubt the sincerity of their idealism. But how does it equate with their celebration of writers like Tolkein and Heinlein? The clue could be in the very vagueness of the prose, which allows for liberal interpretation; it could be that the ciphers they use instead of characters are capable of suggesting a wholly different meaning to certain readers. To me, their naive and emblematic reading of society is fundamentally misanthropic and therefore anti-libertarian. We are faced, once again, with quasi-religion, presented to us as radicalism. At best it is the philosophy of the Western applied to the complex social problems of the twentieth century — it is Reaganism, it is John Wayne in Big John Maclean and The Green Berets, it is George Wallace and Joe McCarthy — at its most refined it is William F. Buckley Jr., who, already a long way more sophisticated than Heinlein, is still pretty simple-minded.

Michael Moorcock är uppenbarligen mycket upprörd och har svårt att förstå varför annars bra, tänkande och reflekterande vänstermänniskor gillar reaktionär och/eller konservativ science-fiction. Han verkar inte förstå att man faktiskt kan gilla saker utan att köpa eller gilla själva budskapet i boken man läser eller just läst. Det är för övrigt väldigt lite SF-litteratur som faller Moorcock i smaken:

It was Alfred Bester who first attracted me to science fiction. I’d read some fantasy and Edgar Rice Burroughs before that, but I thought that if The Stars My Destination (also called Tiger! Tiger!) was sf, then this was the fiction for me. It took me some years to realise that Bester was one of the few exceptions. At the ending of The Stars My Destination the self-educated, working class, ’scum of the spaceways’, Gully Foyle, comes into possession of the substance known as PyrE, capable of detonating at a thought and probably destroying the solar system at very least. The plot has revolved around the attempts of various powerful people to get hold of the stuff. Foyle has it. Moral arguments or forceful persuasions are brought against him to make him give PyrE up to a ’responsible’ agency. In the end he scatters the stuff to ’the mob’ of the solar system. Here you are, he says, it’s yours. Its your destiny. Do with it how you see fit.

This is one of the very, very few ’libertarian’ sf novels I have ever read. If I hadn’t read it, I very much doubt I should have read any more sf. It’s a wonderful adventure story. It has a hero developing from a completely stupefied, illiterate hand on a spaceship to a brilliant and mature individual taking his revenge first on those who have harmed him and then gradually developing what you might call a ’political conscience.’ I know of no other sf book which so thoroughly combines romance with an idealism almost wholly acceptable to me. It is probably significant that it enjoys a relatively small success compared to, say, Stranger in a Strange Land.

Leaving aside the very worthy but to my mind journalistic The Dispossessed by U.K. Le Guin, it is quite hard for me to find many other examples of sf books which, as it were, ’promote’ libertarian ideas. M. John Harrison is an anarchist. His books are full of anarchists — some of them very bizarre like the anarchist aesthetes of The Centauri Device. Typical of the New Worlds school he could be described as an existential anarchist. There is Brian Aldiss with his Barefoot in the Head vision of an LSD ’bombed’ Europe almost totally liberated and developing bizarre new customs. There are J. G. Ballard’s ’terminal ironies’ such as The Atrocity Exhibition and Crash and so on, which have brought criticisms of ’nihilism’ against him. There is Joanna Russ’s marvellous The Female Man. So little sf has fundamental humanitarian values, let alone libertarian ideals, one is hard put to find other examples. My own taste, I suppose, is sometimes at odds with my political views. I admire Barrington J. Bayley, whose stories are often extremely abstract. One of his most enjoyable books recently published is The Soul of the Robot which discusses the nature of individual identity. Charles L. Harness is another favourite of mine. The Rose, in particular, lacks the simplifications of most sf, and The Paradox Men with its sense of the nature of Time, its thief hero, its ironic references to America Imperial, is highly entertaining. I also have a soft spot for C. M. Kornbluth who to my mind had a rather stronger political conscience than he allowed himself, so that his stories are sometimes confused as he tried to mesh middle-American ideas with his own radicalism. One of my favourites (though structurally it is a bit weak) is The Syndic (about a society where a rather benign Mafia is paramount). Fritz Leiber is probably the best of the older American sf writers for his prose-style, his wit and his humanity, as well as his abiding contempt for authoritarianism. His Gather, Darkness is one of the best sf books to relate political power to religious power (this was also serialised in Astounding during the forties . John Brunner, author of the CND marching song ’H-Bomb’s Thunder’, often writes from a distinctly socialist point of view. Harlan Ellison, who for some time had associations with a New York street gang and who has identified himself for many years with radicalism in the US, writes many short stories whose heroes have no truck with authority of any sort, though the conventions of the genre sometimes get in the way of the essential messages of his stories. This has to be true of most genre fiction. Ellison’s best work is written outside the sf genre. Philip K. Dick, John Sladek, Thomas M.Disch, Joanna Russ…

I ovanstående uppräkning av författare han gillar så förekommer en del författare som även nämnts i mina tidigare inlägg om SF-författare som är vänster. Exempelvis Joanna Russ, Harlan Ellison, John Brunner, C.M. Kornbluth, Ursula K. Le Guin och J.G. Ballard men även en del jag inte tidigare nämnt som John Sladek, Thomas M. Disch (fast är han verkligen vänster?), Fritz Leiber, Charles L. Harness, Barrington J. Bayley, M. John Harrison och Alfred Bester.  Men han avfärdar såna som H.G. Wells och Jack London som överhuvudtaget varande frihetliga eller vänster. Båda är kända för en del reaktionära och konservativa ställningstaganden.

En del av de författare Moorcock tar upp nämns också i en del andra texter om röd SF som exempelvis ett blogginlägg på Spirit of Contradiction där förutom Iain Banks, Ursula K. Le Guin och Ken MacLeod också Harry Harrison, Charles Stross och James P. Hogan nämns. Charles Stross uppfattar inte jag som politiskt radikal på något sätt och James P. Hogan var kanske politisk radikal som ung, men tycks ha blivit allt mer reaktionär och förvirrad. Inlägget på Spirit of Contradiction hänvisar också till China Miévilles lista på 50 SF-böcker en vänstermänniska bör läsa.

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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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