“A People’s Future of the United States”

40163361._SY475_I’m a political scientist and I love science fiction, so in some ways A People’s Future of the United States was right up my alley. This is a collection of short stories by progressive science fiction authors about possible visions for America’s future. Some of the stories are more literal extrapolations of present trends into the future. Others try to show how our future could be different – for better or worse. A few work more on a thematic or symbolic level than a literal level.

As I mentioned, these are progressive science fiction authors. The futures imagined in this book all fall along the same political ideology. You won’t find libertarians in the vein of Robert Heinlein in this book. These stories don’t use subtle analogies to try to introduce new points of view or challenge preexisting biases. Rather, they’re bold proclamations about our political future. They’re more about inspiring those who already agree rather than persuading those who don’t. I certainly don’t say that as a criticism, but rather to note that the book will likely appeal most to certain kinds of readers.

I hope this isn’t the last book of its kind. I love the idea of science fiction authors engaging in more (overtly) political storytelling.

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“The Man in the High Castle” (Amazon)

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Another year, another adaptation of a Philip K. Dick story. Dick’s oeuvre has proven to be a considerable source of fodder for Hollywood. Some of the biggest science fiction movies in history originated from Dick’s mind, including Blade RunnerTotal Recall, and Minority Report (as well as a few bombs, like Screamers).

Even amongst this storied history, Amazon’s TV adaptation of Dick’s 1962 novel The Man in the High Castle is special. It’s not just a good sci-fi story, but an important one. I admit I haven’t read the book in decades (something I hope to rectify soon), so I can’t provide a detailed comparison of the book and the TV series, but the show manages to hit upon the core themes Dick explored in the novel. Of particular importance is the idea that humanity can become shockingly complacent to brutality given the right circumstances. Continue reading ““The Man in the High Castle” (Amazon)”