As anyone who frequents Spec Faith on a regular basis knows, I’m a fantasy writer. However, I can’t help but notice that science fiction, along with an amalgamation best termed science fantasy, is slowly on the rise.
Interestingly, along with this growth, there has arisen a discussion about the predominant worldview of science fiction: is it increasingly conservative?
One noted science fiction writer, Dr. Jerry Pournelle (Fires Of Freedom), said, “Science fiction will always be just a bit out of the mainstream of political thought.” Perhaps, then, since western governmental policy has steadily marched into the liberal camp, science fiction has reacted by taking a turn to the right.
Or has it? The debate seems to be ongoing (see “Is Science Fiction Getting More Conservative?”)
The elements that the anti-left science fiction seem to hold in common are things like individual independence and opposition to bureaucracy. Again from Dr. Pournelle:
Planetary history has shown that vast powerful central bureaucracies don’t generally produce either general welfare or freedom or wealth, and science fiction writers have sort of noticed that — even as welfare liberalism has become a consensus among a large part of the literary elites in academia.
“Welfare liberalism” is an interesting term, and would perhaps describe the beliefs of many science fiction writers of an earlier era. The idea is that the government is to provide for the good of the community even as it protects the liberties of the individual.
On paper it sounds good. Hence, a good many writers have written Utopian fiction (H. G. Wells, Ursula K. Le Guin, Lois Lowry). Others have written “ectopian fiction” revolving around environmental issues or “feminist utopias” dealing with women’s issues.
Writer Sally Miller Gearhart says of the latter:
It contrasts the present world with an idealized society, criticizes contemporary values and conditions, sees men or masculine systems as the major cause of social and political problems (e.g. war), and presents women as equal to or superior to men, having ownership over their reproductive functions. (from “Utopian and dystopian fiction,” Wikipedia
Contrast the above view to that of science fiction writer Larry Correia (Monster Hunter International, Monster Hunter Alpha):
All of us red-staters read books too, and though we are used to being constantly beaten over the head about how everything we believe in is wrong by Hollywood and Manhattan, it is really refreshing for us to be able to be entertained while not being bludgeoned about the dangers of global warming, mean capitalists, or whatever the liberal cause of the day is. There is a huge market of people that just want to be entertained, without being personally slighted, and not to be preached to.
His description of the fiction coming out of “Hollywood and Manhattan” reminded me of Avatar. While that movie attacked conservative political structures (predominantly military and economic), it did not offer a liberal socialist answer but a religious one (panentheism). With its popularity and the coming sequels, I wonder how “conservative” science fiction actually will become.
Couple that with the dystopian fiction that is growing in popularity (The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins, Divergent by Veronica Roth), I can’t help but wonder where Christian science fiction fits into this mix.