Politics in Sci-Fi: An Unopened Can of Worms

There’s plenty of heated debate to be found in geekdom—Linux holy wars, fans of different TV series at odds, RPG rulesets…you’d think adding politics to the discussions would be adding gasoline to the fire.  Miracle of miracles, four authors of varying political stripes managed to hold a stimulating (and respectful!) discussion about the role of politics in their genres.  The track’s panel discussion was held Sunday afternoon.Tom Kratman, John Ringo, Bill Ritch, and Van Plexico led the discussion.

There is no avoiding politics in literature; the panelists pointed out that at its most basic, politics is the stuff of basic human interaction.  Avoiding politics would be like avoiding sex in a story altogether; an important human impulse and drive is left out and makes for a boring story.  Since it’s impossible to avoid politics entirely, the discussion centered on how different political views complement each other.  Since science fiction involves creating a world and society from imagination, taking into account the balance of power and the author’s purpose and theme are important aspect of the story. 

 The danger of getting too "ranty" on a political subject also came up.  Remember, you’re rarely going to persuade someone to your political point of view.  Accept that you aren’t going to please everyone with what you have to say.  The panelists’ genuine understanding of this is what likely kept the discussion civilized.

The influences of authors like Robert A. Heinlein and Ayn Rand made their way into the conversation amid some light teasing among the panelists regarding their political pet peeves.  The discussion outlined that the different political camps need each other.  Societal and technological advances that one side might foster can only be built on an existing, stable base that the other provides.  (Remember this at Thanksgiving when your family’s conversation turns to politics.)  Differing viewpoints are needed to maintain a vibrant society.

Author of the article

Claire Greiner currently makes her living in insurance sales—at least, until she figures out what she really wants to be when she grows up. Having grown up in Michigan, she loves the outdoors and spends the nicer weekends (all five of them) at the beach or hiking in the woods. Her hobbies include cooking, music, computer games (an admitted Civilization addict), and gardening (currently limited to a small container garden on her apartment's balcony). Her most recent writing has been website copy and marketing campaigns for her employer. She hopes to get back in touch with her "geek streak" by going to grad school in the next couple years. Claire also spends a fair amount of time and energy making sure her friend Geoff Termorshuizen stays out of trouble.