Political Fiction

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mypsychoticself
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Political Fiction

Postby mypsychoticself » Wed Mar 18, 2009 12:48 am UTC

I've been looking for something to read, and while looking through the "Recommend a Book" and "Books you think every reader should read" threads, I realized that there was little variety in the political fiction rec'd. Thus, I thought that this might be a good place for people to recommend some politically-charged fiction.

The Dispossessed, by Ursula K. le Guin Anarchism
Atlas Shrugged, by Ayn Rand Libertarianism
1984 and Animal Farm, by George Orwell Communism
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Re: Political Fiction

Postby pollywog » Wed Mar 18, 2009 5:59 am UTC

Iron Council, by China Mieville. It's about socialism, and revolution, and is a fucking fantastic book. His others, Perdido Street Station and The Scar, are also quite good, but not as political. Aldous Huxley's books Brave New World and Island are also pretty good, comparable with Nineteen Eighty-four. There's a lot of politics involved, but I guess you might call them dystopic and utopian fiction, respectively.

The A Song of ice and fire series by George RR Martin is also quite political, but I don't know if it's what you're looking for. It contains a lot of politiking, but doesn't really espouse or talk about a particular political leaning.
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Re: Political Fiction

Postby Jack Saladin » Wed Mar 18, 2009 6:38 am UTC

You thought Nineteen Eighty-Four was about communism?

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Re: Political Fiction

Postby Adacore » Wed Mar 18, 2009 10:18 am UTC

Jack Saladin wrote:You thought Nineteen Eighty-Four was about communism?


It is, to an extent. From Wikipedia: Orwell stated the following: "My recent novel [1984] is NOT intended as an attack on Socialism or on the British Labour Party (of which I am a supporter) but as a show-up of the perversions ... which have already been partly realized in Communism and Fascism. ...The scene of the book is laid in Britain in order to emphasize that the English-speaking races are not innately better than anyone else and that totalitarianism, if not fought against, could triumph anywhere."

It's basically an expression of Orwell's view that both Communism and Facism will eventually inevitably lead to the kind of dystopian totalitarianism he describes in the book if not opposed. Animal Farm shows that view more overtly for communism.

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Re: Political Fiction

Postby Jack Saladin » Wed Mar 18, 2009 9:48 pm UTC

It's a book about how any ideology can and will be perverted by the elite and used as a front for totalitarianism. The book is about totalitarianism, not communism.

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Re: Political Fiction

Postby Adacore » Wed Mar 18, 2009 10:00 pm UTC

Jack Saladin wrote:It's a book about how any ideology can and will be perverted by the elite and used as a front for totalitarianism. The book is about totalitarianism, not communism.


Yes, but Orwell believed (and has stated as such) that communism inevitably led to those perversions and ended up in totalitarianism. I don't know if I agree with him or not, but that was his opinion on the matter and he was the author. Either way, it definitely counts as good political fiction. I struggle to think of anything that holds a candle to it.

pollywog wrote:Iron Council, by China Mieville. It's about socialism, and revolution, and is a fucking fantastic book. His others, Perdido Street Station and The Scar, are also quite good, but not as political.


Iron Council is a very good book, however I've never been massively convinced by China Mieville's plots. His writing style is so unique and idiosyncratic that his books are worth reading purely for the visceral depth he weaves into the descriptive text, and the overriding themes are certainly good (and, in the case of Iron Council, certainly very political), but for actual story I wasn't blown away. Actually all his books are decidedly political, and generally left-leaning without being far-left.

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Re: Political Fiction

Postby Sir_Elderberry » Thu Mar 19, 2009 3:48 am UTC

pollywog wrote:The A Song of ice and fire series by George RR Martin is also quite political, but I don't know if it's what you're looking for. It contains a lot of politiking, but doesn't really espouse or talk about a particular political leaning.


I don't think it quite fits. It's a fantasy series that focuses on the affairs of the various kingdoms and such, but it doesn't really try and make a point. It doesn't help that the universe is running low on good guys.
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Re: Political Fiction

Postby Grop » Mon Mar 23, 2009 5:03 pm UTC

Le Dernier Jour d'un Condamné (The Last Day of a Condemned Man) by Victor Hugo comes to mind. It doesn't describe a whole society as 1984 or Brave New World do, but it's meant as a pamphlet against death penalty.

So this isn't about politics, but it serves a political goal; does it qualify? I expect one could think of other similar books.
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Re: Political Fiction

Postby DarkKnightJared » Mon Mar 23, 2009 7:42 pm UTC

mypsychoticself wrote:I've been looking for something to read, and while looking through the "Recommend a Book" and "Books you think every reader should read" threads, I realized that there was little variety in the political fiction rec'd. Thus, I thought that this might be a good place for people to recommend some politically-charged fiction.

The Dispossessed, by Ursula K. le Guin Anarchism
Atlas Shrugged, by Ayn Rand Libertarianism
1984 and Animal Farm, by George Orwell Communism


Eh...on the ideas of individual freedoms, it sort-of works, but there's some conflict, I find, with the economic side of it. I'd say Atlas is literally creating it's own political philosophy of Objectivism.

Some other examples I can think of is Animal Farm, by Orwell (which, in keeping with the discussion about Orwell's thing against communism, was written to be a direct parallel to the USSR), and maybe Hunter S. Thompson's work.

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Re: Political Fiction

Postby endercoaster » Thu Jul 09, 2009 7:23 pm UTC

Iron Heel by Jack London for a "Rich people screwing over the poor" dystopia. And pretty much nailing some things that happened in the '60s.

Also, The Traveller Trilogy by John Twelve Hawks... though the politics are mixed in with some metaphysics that I find good, but could understand some disliking.

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Re: Political Fiction

Postby sje46 » Thu Jul 09, 2009 7:29 pm UTC

There's some focus on dystopia here.
I suppose Brave New World counts? I'm currently reading it.
I can't think of any Utopian novels.
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Re: Political Fiction

Postby VorpalSword » Fri Jul 10, 2009 12:43 am UTC

sje46 wrote:There's some focus on dystopia here.
I suppose Brave New World counts? I'm currently reading it.
I can't think of any Utopian novels.


I haven't personally read it, but you could always try Utopia by Thomas Moore.

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Re: Political Fiction

Postby 6453893 » Fri Jul 10, 2009 6:33 am UTC

I don't know how this thread has eleven replies and there is still no mention of Dos Passos.

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Re: Political Fiction

Postby endercoaster » Fri Jul 10, 2009 5:53 pm UTC

Also... I don't exactly know where the line is between political fiction and "an entertaining documentary with an overall message that one agrees with but which completely fails at fact-checking". To the extent that those qualify, I actually kind of like Michael Moore documentaries.

EDIT: oops... sorry for the semi-off-topic post. Somehow forgot that this "Political Fiction" thread was in the "Books" board. Not deleting the post because, well... it's only semi-off-topic.

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Re: Political Fiction

Postby 6453893 » Sat Jul 11, 2009 2:04 am UTC

endercoaster wrote:Also... I don't exactly know where the line is between political fiction and "an entertaining documentary with an overall message that one agrees with but which completely fails at fact-checking". To the extent that those qualify, I actually kind of like Michael Moore documentaries.

EDIT: oops... sorry for the semi-off-topic post. Somehow forgot that this "Political Fiction" thread was in the "Books" board. Not deleting the post because, well... it's only semi-off-topic.


No, I'd say it's pretty definitely off topic.

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Re: Political Fiction

Postby mypsychoticself » Sat Jul 11, 2009 3:18 pm UTC

6453893 wrote:I don't know how this thread has eleven replies and there is still no mention of Dos Passos.

Are you referring to the author, John Dos Passos or to a book by that title? I've never read anything by that author.
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Re: Political Fiction

Postby 6453893 » Sun Jul 12, 2009 7:34 am UTC

mypsychoticself wrote:
6453893 wrote:I don't know how this thread has eleven replies and there is still no mention of Dos Passos.

Are you referring to the author, John Dos Passos or to a book by that title? I've never read anything by that author.


The author. His work was always incredibly politically rooted. If you read enough of his novels, you can track his slow ideological shift from a socialist to a neocon. Even in the middle, when he was politically neutral, he was very persuasively neutral.

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Re: Political Fiction

Postby DeltaOne » Sat Jan 30, 2010 8:55 pm UTC

Does Heinlein's Starship Troopers count? It seemed pretty political to me when I read it.

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Re: Political Fiction

Postby Thadlerian » Mon Feb 01, 2010 4:29 pm UTC

If you can get your hands on it: The Sentimental Agents in the Volyen Empire, by Doris Lessing. A science fiction novel about an agent from the vast Canopean empire to the small Volyen empire having come down with the disease "rhetoric". This illness causes the victim to constantly spout revolutionary nonsense and join rebel organizations. It is forcibly treated in a dedicated hospital called "Center for Historical Studies".

In short: It's hilarious.

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Re: Political Fiction

Postby Korbl » Wed Feb 03, 2010 3:58 pm UTC

I would suggest two things:
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S Thompson (ok, in strictest of technicalities, I'm not sure it's fiction or nonfiction, and I'm not entirely sure it's political, but it's a good read nonetheless)
Transmetropolitan a series of graphic novels by Warren Ellis (Very much political, kind of jumps back and forth across the distopian/utopian divide, an interesting read influenced by the above book and author, which takes place in a cyberpunk twenty-minutes-in-the-future setting)

Warning, both of these suggestions contain, individually, enough drug use to kill Great A'tuin and the four pachyderms on his back, and enough swearing and cursing to cause little old ladies everywhere to spin in their graves sufficiently to provide all of our energy needs for the next million years.

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Re: Political Fiction

Postby Jahoclave » Sat Feb 06, 2010 5:52 am UTC

For the record, George Orwell was a dedicated democratic socialist and even fought for the Marxists in the Spanish Civil War. So the implication that his books were a critique on the left as a whole is rather unfounded. What really needs to be made is a distinction from the intellectual theories of Marx and what unfolded under Leninism and Stalinism. And as Adacore pointed out with the passage he quotes, 1984 is not a critique in large extent of specific political ideologies be they left or right, but rather states that try to enforce those ideologies through absolutism. Ask yourself, would the novel really change if it were ruled by Cconservatives or communists? Would that change how that government operates in any way?


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