The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

Our Own Corner Of The Library

Posted on | May 28, 2013 | 107 Comments

— by Wombat-socho

I’ve been a science fiction reader for most of my life, starting with a copy of Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time I was given in second grade and continuing on through Robert Heinlein’s juvenile novels to Asimov, Silverberg and other grand masters. I’m old enough to remember when the artsy-fartsy “New Wave” introduced annoying literary styles and gratuitous sex to the genre, and the larger cultural change that made science fiction and fantasy acceptable – no longer something to be sneered at by critics or your classmates.
We’re now at a point where, as Thomas Disch remarked, “we’ve won the culture war”, and millions of people line up to pay perfectly good money to see a movie that reboots a TV series that was originally a ratings failure – but a cult classic.

What’s interesting to me is that with occasional exceptions, SF has largely been dominated by socialist or technocratic futures, mostly because it’s been written by authors who want to write about such futures either because they’re inclined that way (Isaac Asimov) or explicitly socialists (John Brunner, Charles Stross). One subgenre of SF, though – and one publishing house in particular that specializes in that genre – tends to be dominated by conservative and libertarian writers, much as country music tends to be dominated by singers and bands unafraid to express their patriotism and love of country. I’m referring, of course, to combat SF, from which Baen Books has made a fair amount of money. One might almost consider Baen the Fox News of SF publishing: they provide a place for fiction that’s not even remotely PC enough for the other publishers.

The question I want to throw out to the readers is this: is there something about military SF that attracts conservative and libertarian authors? Does writing what you know explain why a lot of Baen’s authors who write in this subgenre are veterans? Where do technothrillers fit into this? Why doesn’t Baen have a booth at CPAC? 😉


107 Responses to “Our Own Corner Of The Library”

  1. Wombat_socho
    May 31st, 2013 @ 8:39 am

    Much like your commenting, only more entertaining.

  2. Wombat_socho
    May 31st, 2013 @ 8:40 am

    Clearly, you don’t know good writing from a hole in the ground.

  3. Wombat_socho
    May 31st, 2013 @ 8:40 am

    No loss.

  4. Richard McEnroe
    May 31st, 2013 @ 10:52 am

    In the intro for one of his collections Drake wrote of how the Slammers stories were a sort of exorcism for him, to deal with the realization that the ‘civilized’ society he had returned to was just a sort of consensual fiction itself . so, not big pn the ‘societal.’

  5. David
    May 31st, 2013 @ 2:27 pm

    For me, it’s all about the “Litany on Fear”…

  6. Totalitarian Vivariums | According To Hoyt
    June 2nd, 2013 @ 10:33 am

    […] I woke up thinking again of Wombat Socho’s question “Why are so much SF writers on the left?”  He could have expanded it if he moved in my circles to “Why are most writers on the left?” […]

  7. Luke
    June 4th, 2013 @ 11:27 am

    Easy: Evolutionary biology’s r/K Selection Theory answers this eloquently.

    “Here, we see how these two deeply imbued psychologies generate grossly different perceptual frameworks within those who are imbued with them. Just as a Liberal will never grasp why a Conservative will look down upon frequent promiscuity and single parenting, the Conservative will never grasp why the Liberal will be so firmly opposed to free market Capitalism, or the right to self defense when threatened. Each sees an inherently different world…”