1. John Weaver says:

    Dear Rebecca,
    There is a fair amount of science fiction with strikes. The most well known novel is Jack London’s Iron Heel, which is arguably the first dystopian novel and along with Bernard Wolfe’s Limbo and Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451, the definitive American dystopian work.


    P.S. China Mieville’s work, particularly his fantasy, has work stoppages as well. Mieville writes from an explicitly Marxist perspective. London did too, but his work is more complicated due to the heavy amount of Nietzschean thought that characterizes his work.

    • Thanks, John. Good examples. I guess I was thinking more about contemporary books. The ones you name are from a different time, when labor issues were more front and center. What I’m wondering is this: how much does our current cultural situation affect a writer, whether consciously or unconsciously? So, I’m postulating that government is now a target more than business. Of course in the early dystopians—Brave New World and 1984—the government was the owner and the employer. And they didn’t allow protests.


  2. I’d be curious to see why you dislike strikes/sport strikes, if you care to elaborate.

    I think one reason people don’t focus as much on fighting business in spec fic is that there are many varieties of business. A lot of people think of business as ‘evil’, but a lot of other people don’t because for the average person, owning a business is often just another career choice. Maybe their parents owned a little family restaurant, or maybe they can’t find work in their initial field due to industry changes and start earning a living with their own business instead. Or, heck, some people start their own businesses to fulfill their dreams or bring forth some sort of innovation that wouldn’t have happened otherwise. Businesses, even large businesses, aren’t innately evil or something we have to fight or take control of, it’s more like corruption seeps into every area of life and has to be combated, no matter what economic system we have.

    Actually, though, a lot of stories do feature CEOs and corruption in companies as part of the plot. In fact, I started reading a comic on Line Webtoon called The Red King recently, and the main char is from a rich family that owns a company with some dark secrets. And then I think in Sci Fi it’s still kind of common to see companies of some sort being behind some form of genetic engineering project and causing problems for the characters. I think there is a decent amount of class warfare in fiction though. Like, you have peasants that want to rebel against the royals. In fact, in Purple Hyacinth (pretty good comic so far) the bad guys are furthering their plans partly by stirring up conflicts between classes:


    So, I dunno, in many ways when company corruption is featured in a story, it tends to be less about worker conditions and more about destructive products being put out or experiments being performed on sentient creatures. That might be partly due to the fact that workplace conditions are less of a life and death situation in developed countries than they used to be. And when writing speculative fiction, it’s often important to depict life or death struggles because it’s what the genre calls for.

  3. Brenna says:

    I seem to remember that in the later Hunger Games books, strikes– refusing to produce the goods their oppressors needed– played a major part in the districts’ rebellion against the Capitol. And class struggles are also a major theme in those books, pitting the “haves” of the Capitol and the wealthy districts with the “have nots” of the rest of Panem.

  4. notleia says:

    Most of the Progressive Era books I’ve read were about the abysmal conditions of workers to help inspire labor reform. Grapes of Wrath also pushes socialism as a cure, but America had a significant socialist movement before they were demonized and scapegoated in the 50’s.
    I read some Frank Norris for a class. Super depressing, but it was kinda supposed to be, like Dickens. In fact, Dickens was part of the same movement, from an earlier and different angle. With happy endings, which the others didn’t feel obliged to do.

  5. Weasy says:

    I think corrupt corporations remain popular villains. See Lex Corp, Weyland Corporation, and the one from that new show called “the Boys” (strongly don’t recommend watching that last one, it’s not for everyones taste).

What do you think?