10 November 2016

Review: New Boundaries in Political Science Fiction edited by Donald M. Hassler and Clyde Wilcox

Hardcover, 362 pages
Published 2008
Borrowed from the library
Read September 2013
New Boundaries in Political Science Fiction
edited by Donald M. Hassler and Clyde Wilcox

If I've counted right, this book collects twenty-three essays about "political science fiction." If that sounds like a broad thing to you, as isn't nearly all science fiction political the moment it imagines a different social world, then think of it as being about politics in science fiction. Of course, like any book of this type, some are good, and some are not good. Of the twenty-one essays, there are ten I recorded no notes for, which is its own sort of indictment. But here are some things of note I did record:
  • I liked Lisa Yaszek's "Not Lost in Space: Revising the Politics of Cold War Womanhood in Judith Merril's Science Fiction," especially for its discussion of the link between apocalypse and the peaceful/rational future.
  • Darko Suvin is always thought-provoking, and though his essay has the cumbersome title of "Of Starship Troopers and Refuseniks: War and Militarism in U.S. Science Fiction, Part I (1945-1974: Fordism)," his points about the way the military dominates technoscience and technoscience dominates the military, and how this plays out in science fiction, are well-taken. I also liked his argument that both Ursula K. Le Guin and Joe Haldeman refusre the "linear time of progress" (135).
  • Doug Davis's "Science Fiction Narratives of Mass Destruction and the Politics of National Security" argues that even anti-war sf relies on some of the same assumptions as militarism.
The book also reminded me, as often happens but I haven't yet acted upon, that I should read Iain M. Banks's Culture novels and China Miéville's Bas-Lag novels.

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