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August 12th, 2010

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05:05 pm - Socialist SF
China Mieville: fifty fantasy & science fiction works that socialists should read:
Those below are chosen not just because of their quality — which though mostly good, is variable — but because the politics they embed (deliberately or not) are of particular interest to socialists. Of course, other works — by the same or other writers — could have been chosen: disagreement and alternative suggestions are welcomed. I change my own mind hour to hour on this anyway.

Note that these are not all books by socialists.
(bold=have read)

Iain M. Banks—Use of Weapons (1990)
Edward Bellamy—Looking Backward, 2000–1887 (1888)
Alexander Bogdanov—The Red Star: A Utopia (1908; trans. 1984)
Emma Bull & Steven Brust—Freedom & Necessity (1997)
Mikhail Bulgakov—The Master and Margarita (1938; trans. 1967)
Katherine Burdekin (aka “Murray Constantine”)—Swastika Night (1937)
Octavia Butler—Survivor (1978)
Julio Cortázar—“House Taken Over” (1963?)
Philip K. Dick—A Scanner Darkly (1977)
Thomas Disch—The Priest (1994)
Gordon Eklund—All Times Possible (1974
Max Ernst—Une Semaine de Bonté (1934)
Claude Farrère—Useless Hands (1920; trans. 1926)
Anatole France—The White Stone (1905; trans. 1910)
Jane Gaskell—Strange Evil (1957)
Mary Gentle—Rats and Gargoyles (1990)
Charlotte Perkins Gilman—“The Yellow Wallpaper” (1892)
Lisa Goldstein—The Dream Years (1985)
Stefan Grabinski—The Dark Domain (1918–22; trans. and collected 1993)
George Griffith—The Angel of Revolution (1893)
Imil Habibi—The Secret Life of Saeed the Pessoptimist (1974; trans. 1982)
M. John Harrison—Viriconium Nights (1984) (not finished - didn't like it much)
Ursula K. Le Guin—The Dispossessed: An Ambiguous Utopia (1974)
Jack London—Iron Heel (1907)
Ken MacLeod—The Star Fraction (1996)
Gregory Maguire—Wicked (1995)
J. Leslie Mitchell (Lewis Grassic Gibbon)—Gay Hunter (1934, reissued 1989)
Michael Moorcock—Hawkmoon (1967–77, reprinted in one edition 1992)
William Morris—News From Nowhere (1888)
Toni Morrison—Beloved (1987)
Mervyn Peake—The Gormenghast Novels (1946–59)
Marge Piercy—Woman on the Edge of Time (1976)
Philip Pullman—Northern Lights (1995)

Ayn Rand—Atlas Shrugged (1957)
Mack Reynolds—Lagrange Five (1979)
Keith Roberts—Pavane (1968)
Kim Stanley Robinson—The Mars Trilogy (1992–96)
Mary Shelley—Frankenstein, or the Modern Prometheus (1818)

Lucius Shepard—Life During Wartime (1987)
Norman Spinrad—The Iron Dream (1972)
Eugene Sue—The Wandering Jew (1845)
Michael Swanwick—The Iron Dragon’s Daughter (1993)
Jonathan Swift—Gulliver’s Travels (1726)
Alexei Tolstoy—Aelita (1922; trans. 1957)
Ian Watson—Slow Birds (1985)
H.G. Wells—The Island of Dr Moreau (1896)
E. L. White—“Lukundoo” (1927)
Oscar Wilde—The Happy Prince and Other Stories (1888)
Gene Wolfe—The Fifth Head of Cerberus (1972)
Yevgeny Zamyatin—We

(13 comments | Leave a comment)


[User Picture]
Date:August 12th, 2010 04:19 pm (UTC)
I recommend Wicked. Well worth reading.
[User Picture]
Date:August 12th, 2010 04:24 pm (UTC)
funnily enough it was mentioned on 'Only Connect' last night so I was thinking about it already
[User Picture]
Date:August 12th, 2010 05:57 pm (UTC)
Dammit, why is LJ eating all my comments this week? I can't even go back and recover the text.

If i recommended only one Iain M. Banks for socialism it wouldn't be Use of Weapons. I've re-read it and The Player of Games recently and TPoG gets the higher preference number on my STV ballot. I may be forgetting a more socialism-relevant Banks than either.

There's no arguing with The Dispossessed for LeGuin though.

[User Picture]
Date:August 12th, 2010 05:59 pm (UTC)
I would pick Player of Games as well. It's my favourite Banks in any case.
[User Picture]
Date:August 12th, 2010 06:26 pm (UTC)
Writing that, I just noticed how much it has in common with The Dispossessed, apart from the Culture being a bit less ambiguous a Utopia.
[User Picture]
Date:August 12th, 2010 06:37 pm (UTC)
Oh, that's interesting! It's mine by miles, but I'd always assumed that that was because I really, really like books with games in them.
[User Picture]
Date:August 12th, 2010 08:09 pm (UTC)
I was thinking of your 'multi-city' game this week because I have been reading Terminal World by Alistair Reynolds, which begins, like so many books seem to nowadays, with co-existing cities. It's got an airship city and a steampunk city and a robot city. However, the story has got a bit dull as our heroes fall in with the airship city, and I have stalled in reading it.
[User Picture]
Date:August 12th, 2010 11:31 pm (UTC)
It's the first Banks I read and still my favourite.
[User Picture]
Date:August 12th, 2010 11:33 pm (UTC)
I've only read 7, but enjoyed them all except for the Mars trilogy which I gave up on because the characters totally failed to engage me.
[User Picture]
Date:August 13th, 2010 11:22 am (UTC)
Oh no! I liked 'em, but on the whole I think these books are a wee bit light on warmth
[User Picture]
Date:August 14th, 2010 05:07 am (UTC)
And humour! There's always humour in life even when it's dark.
[User Picture]
Date:August 13th, 2010 11:21 am (UTC)

*skims* Hrm hm. Ooh Michael Swanwick—The Iron Dragon’s Daughter (1993) I only just recently reread that PS still awesome. "Not completely illiterate" achievement acquired. :-D
[User Picture]
Date:August 13th, 2010 11:36 am (UTC)
I'll have to read it. I think the only one I have read by him is Jack Faust.

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