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Is Science Fiction Getting More Conservative?

Two legends and two newcomers weigh in.

by
Patrick Richardson

Bio

January 25, 2011 - 12:00 am
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The authors weren’t quite in agreement as to whether this move to the right — assuming it exists — was a good thing.

“The thing is, I write what I know,” said Correia. “I’ve been a small business owner, firearms instructor, and a military contractor. That’s the perspective that I have. Some people absolutely hate that I dare to have a worldview that differs from theirs. On the other hand, conservatives are used to being able to overlook the politics of the entertainer we’re watching/reading/listening to, because if we weren’t, we sure wouldn’t be able to watch very many movies.”

“The thing is,” he told me, “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.”

Kratman took a more cynical position. “What does it mean? Probably not much.” Any shift is “probably neutral,” he said. “Some more or less conservative-leaning readers may join or come back to sci-fi. But there will still be enough progressive and socialist pap to feed the — ahem — ‘enlightened cravings of the masses.’”

He admitted that “a close debate may someday rage. It isn’t raging yet because, for the most part, the leftist and rightist wings pretty much ignore each other,” with the lefties “fairly well cocooned by the magazines, the awards system, the reviewers, and no small number of readers who read only them, and the right by — I think — smaller groups of fans who are probably more loyal readers” than their opposite numbers.

“In any case,” Kratman concluded, “nobody converts anybody; we, as a society, are way past that. Right and left don’t share basic assumptions, don’t use the same words with the same meanings, and generally just talk past each other.”

Correia was more optimistic. “It is kind of like how most of the mainstream news outlets can’t figure out why they’re getting lousy ratings and Fox is getting such good ratings,” he said. “When the population is divided in half, and ten outlets are competing for one half, and one outlet is competing for the other half … well, duh. If openly conservative writers sell well, then there will be more writers that aren’t afraid to be open about what they believe in.”

Warning that entertainers shouldn’t “go out of their way to offend any of their potential market,” Correia insisted that more conservative science fiction authors “should write what we’re passionate about and not have to sulk in the shadows. Just because I believe that I shouldn’t have to give half of my income to pay for ACORN’s Honduran sex slaves doesn’t make me a bad person. I’m lucky in that my publishing house doesn’t care what their authors’ politics are. We’ve got actual socialists all the way to people just to the right of Genghis Khan, as long as they write entertaining books.”

In the end, all four men seemed to see science fiction as a place where ideas like individual freedom could be freely examined and explored.

Me, I just got to talk to four of my favorite authors.

You could say I’m over the moon.

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Patrick Richardson has been a journalist for almost 15 years and an inveterate geek all his life. He blogs regularly at www.otherwheregazette.com, which aims to be like another SF magazine, just not so serious.
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