Socialism and Social Critique in Science Fiction

A little while ago, we were contacted by Socialism and Democracy about a potential ad swap to highlight their latest issue, which focuses on sf. It didn’t work out because of the timing of the print deadlines, but they very kindly sent me a complimentary copy. The introduction to the issue is available online:

This whole range of potentially subversive processes is grounded in the experience incisively identified by Darko Suvin, more than thirty years ago, as cognitive estrangement. Works conceived in this tradition are the ones in which we find promise. The character of such works, as Carl Freedman has written, “lies neither in chronology nor in technological hardware but in the cognitive presentation of alternatives to actuality and the status quo.” Insofar as we focus on this dimension of science fiction, we encounter a body of work with obvious relevance to the concerns of socialists. This link has been expressed historically in many ways. One striking instance of it, noted by Suvin, is the presence, at key points in Marx’s writings, of figures like vampires, monsters, sorcerers, and specters. The point here is perhaps that even in the most materialist of analyses, there needs to be a vocabulary to encompass the dimensions of behavior that appear, from one limited class-perspective or another, to be beyond the range of calculable human intervention. Beyond this, though, there is a long and proud tradition of consciously radical SF writing or storytelling, some of which is discussed and illustrated in articles in this collection.

And here’s the table of contents:

Issue #42 (Vol 20, No. 3)

  • Preface by the Editors
  • Science Fiction as Popular Culture: A Sense of Wonder by Yusuf Nuruddin
  • Introduction by Victor Wallis

Radical Readings

  • Steven Shaviro, Prophecies of the Present
  • Carl Freedman, Speculative Fiction and International Law: The Marxism of China Mieville
  • Lisa Yaszek, Afrofuturism, Science Fiction, and the History of the Future
  • Alcena Madeline Davis Rogan, Alienation, Estrangement, and the Politics of “Free Individuality” in Two Feminist Science Fictions: A Marxist Feminist Analysis
  • Dennis M. Lensing, The Fecund Androgyne: Gender and the Utopian/Dystopian Imagination of the 1970s
  • Jonathan Scott, Octavia Butler and the Base for American Socialism

Politics & Culture in the US

  • Yusuf Nuruddin, Ancient Black Astronauts and Extraterrestrial Jihads: Islamic Science Fiction as Urban Mythology
  • Marleen S. Barr, Science Fiction and the Cultural Logic of Early Post Postmodernism
  • Robert P. Horstemeier, Flying Saucers Are Real! The US Navy, Unidentified Flying Objects, and the National Security State

Technological Futures

  • Sherryl Vint and Mark Bould, All That Melts Into Air Is Solid: Rematerialising Capital in Cube and Videodrome
  • Michael G Bennett, The Adoxic Adventures of John Henry in the 21st Century


  • Fredric Jameson, Archaeologies of the Future: The Desire Called Utopia and Other Science Fictions reviewed by Alcena Madeline Davis Rogan
  • Sheree Thomas, ed., Dark Matter I: A Century of Speculative
    Fiction from the African Diaspora
    ; Sheree Thomas, ed., Dark Matter: Reading the Bones; and Nalo Hopkinson and Uppinder Mehan, eds, So Long
    Been Dreaming: Postcolonial Science Fiction and Fantasy
    reviewed by Yolanda Hood
  • Andrea L. Bell and Yolanda Molina-Gavilan, eds, Cosmos Latinos: An Anthology of Science Fiction from Latin America and Spain reviewed by Aaron Dziubinskyj

Some interesting-looking articles there.

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