Libertarian science fiction

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Libertarian science fiction is a subgenre of science fiction that focuses on the politics and social order implied by right libertarian philosophies with an emphasis on individualism and private ownership of the means of production—and in some cases, no state whatsoever. [1]

Science fiction Genre of speculative fiction

Science fiction is a genre of speculative fiction that has been called the "literature of ideas". It typically deals with imaginative and futuristic concepts such as advanced science and technology, time travel, parallel universes, fictional worlds, space exploration, and extraterrestrial life. It often explores the potential consequences of scientific innovations.

Individualism moral stance, political philosophy, ideology, or social outlook that emphasizes the moral worth of the individual

Individualism is the moral stance, political philosophy, ideology, or social outlook that emphasizes the moral worth of the individual. Individualists promote the exercise of one's goals and desires and so value independence and self-reliance and advocate that interests of the individual should achieve precedence over the state or a social group, while opposing external interference upon one's own interests by society or institutions such as the government. Individualism is often defined in contrast to totalitarianism, collectivism, and more corporate social forms.

Anti-statism opposition to state intervention into personal, social, and economic affairs

Anti-statism is opposition to state intervention into personal, social and economic affairs. Anti-statism means opposition to the state and any artificial form of government and it differs from traditional anarchism which means the opposition not only to the state, but to any form of rulership.

Contents

As a category, libertarian fiction is unusual because the vast majority of its authors are self-identified as science fiction authors. This contrasts with the authors of much other social criticism who are largely academic or mainstream novelists who tend to dismiss any genre classification. The identification between libertarianism and science fiction is so strong that the U.S. Libertarian Party often has representatives at science fiction conventions [ citation needed ] and one of the highest profile authors currently in the subgenre of libertarian science fiction, L. Neil Smith, was the Arizona Libertarian Party's 2000 candidate for the President of the United States. [2]

United States Federal republic in North America

The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States or America, is a country comprising 50 states, a federal district, five major self-governing territories, and various possessions. At 3.8 million sq mi (9.8 million km2), the United States is the world's third or fourth largest country by total area and is slightly smaller than the entire continent of Europe's 3.93 million sq mi (10.2 million km2). With a population of more than 327 million people, the U.S. is the third most populous country. Most of the country is located contiguously in North America between Canada and Mexico. The extremely diverse geography, climate, and wildlife of the United States make it one of the world's 17 megadiverse countries.

Libertarian Party (United States) national political party in United States

The Libertarian Party (LP) is a political party in the United States that promotes civil liberties, non-interventionism, laissez-faire capitalism and shrinking the size and scope of government. The party was conceived at meetings in the home of David F. Nolan in Westminster, Colorado in August 1971 and was officially formed on December 11, 1971 in Colorado Springs, Colorado. The founding of the party was prompted in part due to concerns about the Nixon administration, the Vietnam War, conscription and the end of the gold standard.

As a genre, it can be seen as growing out of the 1930s and 1940s when the science-fiction pulp magazines were reaching their peak at the same time as fascism and communism. While this environment gave rise to dystopian novels, in the pulps, this influence more often give rise to speculations about societies (or sub-groups) arising in direct opposition to "totalitarianism".

Fascism Form of radical, right-wing, authoritarian ultranationalism

Fascism is a form of radical right-wing, authoritarian ultranationalism characterized by dictatorial power, forcible suppression of opposition, and strong regimentation of society and of the economy which came to prominence in early 20th-century Europe. The first fascist movements emerged in Italy during World War I, before spreading to other European countries. Opposed to liberalism, Marxism, and anarchism, fascism is placed on the far-right within the traditional left–right spectrum.

Communism socialist political movement and ideology

In political and social sciences, communism is the philosophical, social, political, and economic ideology and movement whose ultimate goal is the establishment of the communist society, which is a socioeconomic order structured upon the common ownership of the means of production and the absence of social classes, money, and the state.

Ayn Rand's novel Atlas Shrugged is a strong (perhaps the strongest) influence with an anti-socialist attitude and an individualist ethic that echoes throughout the genre. [3] Of more direct relevance to the science fiction end of this genre is Robert A. Heinlein's The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress , which is highly regarded even by non-libertarian science fiction readers. An award for libertarian science fiction, the Prometheus Award, is given out every year. Some winners of the award identify as libertarians (e.g., L. Neil Smith, Victor Koman, Brad Linaweaver), while others do not (Terry Pratchett, Charles Stross).

Ayn Rand Russian-American writer and philosopher

Ayn Rand was a Russian-American writer and philosopher. She is known for her two best-selling novels, The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged, and for developing a philosophical system she named Objectivism. Educated in Russia, she moved to the United States in 1926. She had a play produced on Broadway in 1935 and 1936. After two early novels that were initially unsuccessful, she achieved fame with her 1943 novel, The Fountainhead. In 1957, Rand published her best-known work, the novel Atlas Shrugged. Afterward, she turned to non-fiction to promote her philosophy, publishing her own periodicals and releasing several collections of essays until her death in 1982.

<i>Atlas Shrugged</i> 1957 novel by Ayn Rand

Atlas Shrugged is a 1957 novel by Ayn Rand. Rand's fourth and final novel, it was also her longest, and the one she considered to be her magnum opus in the realm of fiction writing. Atlas Shrugged includes elements of science fiction, mystery, and romance, and it contains Rand's most extensive statement of Objectivism in any of her works of fiction.

Robert A. Heinlein American science fiction author

Robert Anson Heinlein was an American science-fiction author, aeronautical engineer, and retired Naval officer. Sometimes called the "dean of science fiction writers", he was among the first to emphasize scientific accuracy in his fiction, and was thus a pioneer of the subgenre of hard science fiction. His published works, both fiction and non-fiction, express admiration for competence and emphasize the value of critical thinking. His work continues to have an influence on the science-fiction genre, and on modern culture more generally.

Some other prominent libertarian science fiction authors include S. Andrew Swann [4] and Michael Z. Williamson. [5]

S. Andrew Swann is a science fiction and fantasy author living in Solon, Ohio, a suburb of Cleveland, Ohio, where much of his fiction is set. He was born Steven Swiniarski and has published some of his books as Swiniarski, and some as Swann. He has been published by DAW Books and by Ballantine Spectra, a division of Random House.

Michael Z. Williamson American military science fiction writer

Michael Z. Williamson is a science fiction and military fiction author best known for his libertarian-themed Freehold series. His books have appeared on the bestseller lists of the Wall Street Journal and Locus Magazine. Williamson's Wisdom From My Internet, a collection of witticisms and political polemic from the Internet, was nominated for a Hugo Award for Best Related Work in 2015.

Notable examples

Lester Neil Smith III, better known as L. Neil Smith, is an American libertarian science fiction author and political activist. His works include the trilogy of Lando Calrissian novels, all published in 1983: Lando Calrissian and the Mindharp of Sharu, Lando Calrissian and the Flamewind of Oseon, and Lando Calrissian and the Starcave of ThonBoka. He also wrote the novels Pallas, The Forge of the Elders, and The Probability Broach, each of which won the Libertarian Futurist Society's annual Prometheus Award for best libertarian science fiction novel. In 2016, Smith received a Special Award for Lifetime Achievement from the Libertarian Futurist Society.

<i>The Probability Broach</i> book by L. Neil Smith

The Probability Broach is a 1979 science fiction novel by American writer L. Neil Smith. It is set in an alternate history, the so-called Gallatin Universe, where a libertarian society has formed on the North American continent, styled the North American Confederacy (NAC). This history was created when the Declaration of Independence has the word unanimous added to the preamble, to read that governments "derive their just power from the unanimous consent of the governed".

Kenneth W. Royce is an American author who primarily writes under the pen-name of Boston T. Party. He has written non-fiction books that offer a libertarian stance on privacy, police encounters, tax resistance and gun politics. His books are published by Javelin Press, which only publishes these works. He has written one fiction novel, Molôn Labé!, and is one of the founders of the Free State Wyoming project. In 2005, Royce was interviewed by Larry Pratt of Gun Owners of America on the nationally syndicated Live Fire radio show, about the Free State Wyoming project. He also speaks at Libertarian conferences.

See also

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The Prometheus Award is an award for libertarian science fiction novels given annually by the Libertarian Futurist Society. L. Neil Smith established the award in 1979, but it was not awarded regularly until the newly founded Libertarian Futurist Society revived it in 1982. The Society created a Hall of Fame Award in 1983, and also presents occasional one-off Special Awards.

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Roy Childs American libertarian essayist and critic

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The exploration of politics in science fiction is arguably older than the identification of the genre. One of the earliest works of modern science fiction, H. G. Wells’ The Time Machine, is an extrapolation of the class structure of the United Kingdom of his time, an extreme form of Social Darwinism; during tens of thousands of years, human beings have evolved into two different species based on their social class.

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The first Golden Age of Science Fiction, often recognized in the United States as the period from 1938 to 1946, was an era during which the science fiction genre gained wide public attention and many classic science fiction stories were published. In the history of science fiction, the Golden Age follows the "pulp era" of the 1920s and 1930s, and precedes New Wave science fiction of the 1960s and 1970s. The 1950s are a transitional period in this scheme; however, Robert Silverberg, who came of age in the 1950s, saw that decade as the true Golden Age.

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References

  1. Raymond, Eric. "A Political History of SF" . Retrieved 2007-12-04.
  2. "Presidential Elections Statistics 2000 Popular Votes for L. Neil Smith (most recent) by state" . Retrieved 2007-12-04.
  3. Snider, John C. "But Is It Science Fiction? – Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged" . Retrieved 2007-12-04.
  4. "S. Andrew Swann". Spectrum Literary Agency. Archived from the original on 2008-09-05. Retrieved 2008-04-02.
  5. Wagner, T. M. (2004). "Freehold / Michael Z. Williamson". sfreviews.net. Retrieved 2008-04-02.