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George Orwell's 1984... Defining Government Surveillance and Citizen Paranoia since 1948

This blog cannot not be complete without an article that deals with probably one of the best known political sci-fi stories of all times: George Orwell's 1984 (Signet Classics). This is probably the best known authoritarian model in contemporary literature, as it gave us terms we now use colloquially, such as "Big Brother Is Watching", and evidently the whole concept of government as an unwanted Big Brother snooping into our private lives, looking for ways to control us through propaganda and mass media.

One of the most interesting details about this story is the fact that Orwell was a member of the British Communist Party, and had been highly critical of them, as can be seen in Animal Farm, where he portrays the communists as the pigs who overthrow the human masters, only to become just like them in the end, which is a theme he will go on to expand on in 1984, when he talks about the way that revolutions work, and how they are nothing more than a change in the name of …
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My top 5 political science fiction books

I have been working for a long time on this post, and I'm still not 100% sure about it, but one thing is certain, if I keep on waiting for it to be "perfect" it will never be published, and besides this is my personal list, so if you disagree with the inclusion (or exclusion) of a given book, please let me know in the comments. These are five individual novels that have shaped political science fiction over the past century, and as such I have chosen them as five must reads for anyone interested in this subject; I am working also on a post about sagas, trilogies and series, so you will not find here some titles that would seem obvious otherwise.
1. A Brave New World - Aldous Huxley. Coming from a society as structured and divided by social class as early 20th century England, this is one sharp critique of the direction society was taking at the time, and even today it still has some troubling warnings to be heeded. If you haven't read it be sure to grab a copy of it…

Tackling the epitome of political Science Fiction: The DUNE Saga

It's been a while since I last read the DUNE saga, but if there is one thing that you can never forget after reading it is that the whole thing revolves around the intricacies of politics and power. For those of you who have never read the book, and have only seen the movie and/or TV adaptations of it then the story is mostly about the action and daring-do, but you are missing out on so many levels of detail and nuance that it's almost as if you were seeing an entirely different story. For this post I will concern myself only with the first book in the series, but might mention ahead.
The primary story revolves primarily around the political relationships of three of the galaxy's Great Houses: the Atreides, the Corrino and the Harkonen; the basis of political power in this universe is derived primarily from economic power, and the greatest source of wealth is the substance know as the "spice", Melange. In a society where technology has fallen back to mechanics a…

Rediscovering a love for Space Opera

Recently I decided that dystopias, post-apocalyptic scenarios and deep examinations of the human spirit were tiring me, I decided to look for something a little less demanding intellectually, and decided to turn to space opera, looking for fast paced, thrilling, action packed stories that were straight forward and didn't need to be read two or three times to find the hidden meaning behind the characters words and actions, but being the kind of reader that I am, and despite my earlier decision to keep space opera out of these little forays into the deeper meanings of Speculative Fiction, I find myself writing this article.

First off, there is a ton of Space Operas out there, many of them so bad that I couldn't go beyond the first chapter, in which the scantily clad heroine is chased by the bug-eyed monster... oh wait, that was actually a 50's movie, but you get my meaning. Those are precisely the kind of things that had led me away from space opera as a worthwhile sub-genr…

Can Science Fiction help us redefine our political system?

In the wake of the Arab Spring, the Occupy... Movement, the Indignados in Spain, and the protests against so many other governments around the world, Science Fiction is starting to rethink many of the political postulates it has espoused since it's golden age. For close to 70 years Science Fiction has placed democracy as one of the greatest social systems ever invented, and in many of the most utopian stories it is precisely under a democracy that these utopias come about. But can we go on saying that when we are seeing increasing manifestations of doubt in the truth behind the promises of democracy?

Maybe it's time to turn to the freedom granted to us through Science Fiction to analyze other options, or see behind the veil, and maybe propose a new direction. Now this is no simple task, and it is one that still needs to be delved into deeper, but a good starting point can be found in a novel called Systems, by British author Saleena Karim; in this story set some 30 years from …

Will civilization collapse in a day? some science fiction reflections on that - Part 1

Most dystopian science fiction places the reader on a world past the catastrophe, or event that led to the current state of affairs, but a fringe genre, mix fiction and science fiction, is the survivalist novel, in which we are privy to some of the events that lead to a dystopia, and the downfall tends to be depicted as being rather fast, but at the same time gradual. Such is the case of two novels I have read recently, in which for two very different events civilization as we know it changes dramatically, leading to a harsh world in which the fears and insecurities of people lead to a violent and more often than not brutal change in the world around us. In this post I'll address the sudden loss of all electronic equipment, which is the plot-line for "Lights Out" by David Crawford, and the other will be reserved for a later post.

This is one scenario that is not really explained as to how it happened or why, but the story centers around something much more meaningful to…

The Fears of a Given Time Are Put Into Science Fiction?

One recurring issue I have found over the course of many books is that the time on which a given book is written has a great influence on the kind of book it is. I'm talking not only about the narrative techniques, I'm talking about the issues that are dealt with within the story; the fears, hopes and desires the author chooses to give the characters.

In the mid 1950's the fears were nuclear war and communism (in western democracies), while in the mid 1960's new concerns entered the science fiction landscape, and others left. Look at 1984, and you will find the deep rooted fear of a British author of succumbing to a worldwide communist system based on a perpetual state of war, with the resulting absolute control over the individual that we all know now as "Big Brother".

The 1958 Space Merchants tackles new concerns, ones that in the 1960's hippie culture would play an important role, to be forgotten in the 1980's and 90's only to return in the fir…