Friday, January 28, 2011

Is SF Getting More Conservative?

Interesting article here at Pyjama's Media, and a very interesting mass of comments ensuing. This is mostly American-centric so definitions of conservative, left, liberal etc are slightly different from the British version. I'd also submit that the question in the title is one that wouldn't even be asked here. 'One swallow does not a summer make' would be the relevant proverb.

I am a complete science fiction geek.

It started when I was little more than a toddler. One of my earliest memories: sitting in the basement with my parents as they watched Walter Cronkite narrate one of the Apollo missions as it rounded the moon. (Which one? I couldn’t have been more than three or four, and I was born in 1971. You do the math.) It left an impression. I’ve been a fan ever since.

In the last few years, I’ve noticed more and more that science fiction has taken a bit of a turn to the right. I’ve also seen more than a few reviews lambasting those authors for their views — which seems to matter not a whit to their sales.

So I emailed four of them — two relative newcomers and two legends — and asked why.

The legends, Dr. Jerry Pournelle and Orson Scott Card, need no introduction. But it bears mention that Ender’s Game, Card’s best-known work, is on the Commandant of the Marine Corps recommended reading list as a treatise on what it means to be a leader. The newcomers, Lt. Col Tom Kratman (Ret.) and Larry Correia, both write for Baen.


Unknown said...

Good find Neal. If nothing else it's reminded me it's been *far* too long since I read any Larry Niven.

"It’s as if the entire Tsarist aristocracy fervently preached Bolshevism even as they oppressed their peasants."

I think that - above the level of recycled cliché space opera fanfics - sci-fi has to be outrageous and heretical; otherwise what's the point? Consolation and easy answers do not good sci-fi make.

Neal Asher said...

I love this one from a comment by someone called Lily:

"In response to the idea that conservative readers are more loyal fans than leftist readers, I have to say that it is my experience that conservatives and libertarians, in general, are a much more tolerant bunch. If they like an author, or a series, they are not inclined to peer into the author’s personal politics or religious beliefs. Leftists, on the otherhand, cannot abide the thought that an author may have double-plus-ungood thoughts on either politics or religion."

So true.

Unknown said...

Neal, I agree with both you and Lily, leftists usually are quite priggish and bigoted when it comes to any world view other than the one they subscribe to. Which is one reason that I an American have pretty much given up looking for sci-fi from American authors, other than the ones mentioned in the article. I grew up reading the books of the arch-Libertarian of all time Robert Heinlein and find that the American authors I seek out now are Ringo, Kratman, Correia and those of their ilk.
For the last several years I have focusing most of my reading time on your books and other writers from the U.K. At least once a week I scour through the UK Amazon site looking the high quality sci-fi without being swamped with leftist politcal undertones.

vaudeviewgalor raandisisraisins said...

dont fuck with the culture, Morgan, Ken MacLeod, Sterling...

i cant think of conservative authors i follow anymore. in an extrapolation of this 'now' we will see supercontrol that makes 1984 look like a neo con essay on a fictional Oceana (we got sand oil land instead).

The Sheep Look Up, a few PKD and Orwell all rolled into one. which, by the way, is here! it's really happening!

visionary stuff that sf..

onto some happy stuff: the Hooder i dont think was described so much in the other books, shorts, as much as it is in THE TECHNICIAN. (the one in the museum) has a ridge wall up the middle (THE tooth) and a paintbrush (besides the kitchen sink). am i wrong? did i miss some details before? nice nightmare.

and that black oil filled giger x 10k Penny cathedral of bodies. sure, let me sleep on that one, sadistic bastard.

don't you think in the future Vorhees, Kruger, and Leatherface will be surpassed by Chainglassface, The Spine Scavenger, and Caligula II?
and Jobsworth on art was a hoot. will dig around for a link to a Duchamp q and a that you might get a kick out of.

satisfying read. thanks a million.

afraid to shave now. might get that sudden urge to go deeper..

oblate777 said...

As a center-left American, I find that most of the current SF conservatives are boring and staid. As far as I can tell, most of them are still riffing off of Pournelle's "The Mercenary."

Since you are a conservative, Neal, I guess you are the only one I am reading at the moment. I do enjoy your books a great deal, tho your climate change denial amuses me.

vaudeviewgalor raandisisraisins said...

if Neal is a conservative, so is Banks and MacLeod...maybe Dawkins also.

oblate777 said...

If so, Neal has a very very dry wit. Which is quite possible, given his origins.

vaudeviewgalor raandisisraisins said...

all the people end up being pawns under the machines in the books. his rants and hair pulling (see pic) is from frustration over the oberfuhrers fibbling away on some stupid jape (how much was that last lap dance Senator Sir? very good then).

thats how i see it. maybe my mind has been tinted from semi veganism. woozy feelings as i fall asleep at night.

" I’ve heard some real horror stories from other writers about the way they’ve been treated because of their personal politics.”
-from the Pajamas Media text.

no one wants some not so thought out flickering bulb doing an interview, and embarrassing the publisher. there's no 'the opinions expressed on this dvd do not reflect those at the house of sensitive falling cards' at the beginning of media->author spews.
self publishing means anyone can be democratic and fail on their own merit. i see that all the time in the music corral.

anyone here read The Ungoverned by Vernor Vinge? short story of collapsed usa. great read.

Neal Asher said...

egglemsg, I agree with you on that priggishness and bigotry, which is generaly to be found in SF's parasite literature. However, I am puzzled as to why you're looking at amazon UK for your fiction, unless British writers simply aren't so blatant about their politics in their fiction.

Vaude, I still think the older ones on population are on the button. Elephant in the room: population heading for seven billion. Glad you're enjoying my monsters! Ain't Penny Royal a darling...

oblate777, I wouldn't style myself a conservative, just anti big government. As for the climate change denial, I've never claimed the climate doesn't change. I just very much doubt the reliance on models that can't even predict the now or even hind-cast. Just as I doubt the output of 'scientists' who lie and cheat and the idea that a warmer climate will, against all historical fact, be dangerous.

Anonymous said...

I wonder if something called Night of the Blood Jihad could become a bestseller... I don't know if I could stoop that low.

Neal Asher said...

I haven't read it myself yet, yamathespacefish, but there's Tom Kratman's 'Caliphate':