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Slothrop
19-10-2010, 10:56 PM
Is there any?

Literature-wise, I mean.

Fantasy writing seems kind of ripe for formal or political radicalism - strong association with 60's counterculture, very open ended remit, links in to magick / hyperstition, obvious psychedelic potential, free reign to explore alternative modes of politics or thought. But while science fiction gets the Burroughs - Ballard axis of boundary pushing radicalism, fantasy is (afaict) so moribund that China Mieville is considered to be shoving his radical socialism down your throat by, erm, having a vaguely corrupt government / evil capitalists worldview that's been pretty mainstream in SF for about thirty years.

So what's going on that I don't know about?

If nothing, why not? Is it all Tolkein's fault - causing anything remotely modernist to be reclassified as science fiction? Or what?

swears
19-10-2010, 11:25 PM
This is a good one about Liverpool:

http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51C41XQCT2L._SL500_AA300_.jpg

Mr. Tea
20-10-2010, 09:13 AM
Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy? Although arguably that's better described as science fiction.

The Harry Potter books take the piss out of Harry's Daily Mail-reading uncle, but then he and his chums all go to a posh boarding school, so I guess it's moot. :)

Edit: most fantasy involves the creation of an imaginary world, or at least an imaginary aspect of or demi-monde within the real world, that resembles the real world at some time in the past, very often Europe in antiquity or the middle ages and very often with explicit overtones of chivalry, heroic kingship, Classical mythology/Germanic romanticism/Celtic mysticism and so on. So maybe it's most natural for fantasy writing to tend towards a conservative or reactionary worldview because of this? Of course, this also makes it ripe for subversion, a la Mieville, but this is bound to be in the minority.

Having said that, there's at least one well-know author who writes in a traditional pseudo-mediaeval fantasy genre but who is highly critical of Tolkien and whose novels poke a lot of fun at what he sees as Tolkien's backwards, anti-modernist, little-Englander mentality. Can't recall his name right now, I'm afraid. (Edited edit: Moorcock, that's the fella. Not read any myself, but he's surely the other big-name lefty fantasy author apart from Mieville).

And thinking about it, while I think you'd be hard-pressed to describe Terry Pratchett as having a 'radical' agenda in the sense of being a revolutionary socialist, his Discworld novels could surely be called radical fantasy since the subversion of trad fantasy tropes like heroism, divine kingship, predestination and prophecy, black-and-while moral struggle etc., as well as the insertion of real-life social, economic and political issues into a world of magic and monsters, is pretty much his stock in trade.

BSquires
20-10-2010, 02:08 PM
I know it's China Mieville but does this help:

http://www.fantasticmetropolis.com/i/50socialist/full/

Dunninger
20-10-2010, 06:56 PM
I just finished the Viriconium (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Viriconium) books my M. John Harrison. The first short novel is still rather conventional in the sense of narrating a sort of "adventure quest" plot in a fantastic world, but over the course of the complete cycle there's an increasing sense of strangeness and alienation. Don't know if this is what you're after, but it reminds me of how Ballard relates to SF (Harrison is also accociated with the New Wave movement/New Worlds magazine).


causing anything remotely modernist to be reclassified as science fiction? Or what?

I think there's some truth to this. There's lots of literature that works with fantastic ideas but isn't regarded as Fantasy with a capital F, and a fantasy book that's as far from elves and orcs as Ballard and Burroughs are from Star Trek could easily be filed into some other category. Magical Realism, Surrealism, just generally speculative fiction etc.

Slothrop
23-10-2010, 11:39 AM
Having said that, there's at least one well-know author who writes in a traditional pseudo-mediaeval fantasy genre but who is highly critical of Tolkien and whose novels poke a lot of fun at what he sees as Tolkien's backwards, anti-modernist, little-Englander mentality. Can't recall his name right now, I'm afraid. (Edited edit: Moorcock, that's the fella. Not read any myself, but he's surely the other big-name lefty fantasy author apart from Mieville).
Yeah, I was wondering about him but have never read any of his stuff. I mean, he was basically in Hawkwind, so he can't be that straight laced.

I'd seen that China Mieville list before, actually, but it's mostly science fiction isn't it? Also, I've not got anything against China Mieville, I just don't think he's spectacularly far-out as a writer.

Lanark by Alasdair Gray might count, I suppose...

Slothrop
23-10-2010, 12:00 PM
Edit: most fantasy involves the creation of an imaginary world, or at least an imaginary aspect of or demi-monde within the real world, that resembles the real world at some time in the past, very often Europe in late antiquity or the middle ages and very often with explicit overtones of chivalry, heroic kingship, Germanic romanticism/Celtic mysticism and so on.
A lot of that's true of black metal as well, though. Which may not always be nice, but is certainly less mundane and predictable than a lot of fantasy, afaict...


I wonder if part of it is that the creation of imaginary worlds in fantasy basically appeals as a purely escapist activity, whereas science fiction involves some significant consideration of the world as it is now in order to predict where it might be in the future. But you'd think there'd be people either i) expanding the fantastic, mystical, subversive parts of real history or ii) using the freedom to think about completely alternative ways of living rather than just sticking to a vaguely idealized european medievalism...

vimothy
23-10-2010, 02:29 PM
If you haven't ever read any Morcock, do it now!

Immryr
23-10-2010, 03:23 PM
yeah, michael moorcock is flippin great.

swears
23-10-2010, 11:55 PM
Yeah, I was wondering about him but have never read any of his stuff. I mean, he was basically in Hawkwind, so he can't be that straight laced.

I'd seen that China Mieville list before, actually, but it's mostly science fiction isn't it? Also, I've not got anything against China Mieville, I just don't think he's spectacularly far-out as a writer.

Lanark by Alasdair Gray might count, I suppose...

Mieville is too much of a straight-up moralistic leftie to be really far-out, guy just cares about human beings too much. Can you imagine Ballard at an SWP rally? Even Orwell thought those types were full of shit. That's not a bad list, tho.

Mr. Tea
24-10-2010, 04:06 AM
A lot of that's true of black metal as well, though. Which may not always be nice, but is certainly less mundane and predictable than a lot of fantasy, afaict...

...and is also a genre of music not totally estranged from the radical right - right?

I mean, 'radical' is not a synonym for 'Marxist', it works both ways - is there a widespread subgenre of far-right fantasy fiction? Depressingly, it wouldn't surprise me in the least if there were. Tolkien himself was certainly a small-c conservative and his attitude to race is debatable, but he was definitely no Nazi. Not sure where I'm going with this - I've read basically no 'trad' fantasy beyond JRRT and don't listen to black metal - though of course some of the hardcore Norwegian nutters have a certain orciness to them. Obviously Vim would be yer man for this kind of chat.

Agree with the rest of your post, though.

vimothy
24-10-2010, 03:28 PM
Hmm--I think you have to read a fair bit into Tolkein to find evidence of racism. He was certainly no fan of Hitler and the Nazis or Stalin, which is not an insignificant intellectual achievement for the time, IMO. Wikipedia has a good summary: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/J._R._R._Tolkien#Politics_and_race

Mr. Tea
24-10-2010, 09:18 PM
Hmm--I think you have to read a fair bit into Tolkein to find evidence of racism. He was certainly no fan of Hitler and the Nazis or Stalin, which is not an insignificant intellectual achievement for the time, IMO. Wikipedia has a good summary: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/J._R._R._Tolkien#Politics_and_race

I should make it clear that I, personally, don't think Tolkien was necessarily a massive racist; it's just that I can see why some people might have levelled that charge against him. Obviously it's nothing like Haggard or Lovecraft.

He was a reactionary purely in the sense of recoiling from modernist political movements, industrialism, militarism and all the rest of it, so it makes perfect sense for him to reject both Hitler and Stalin, as you say. On a personal level he had a particular hatred of Nazism because of its co-option of his beloved Germanic myths.

padraig (u.s.)
24-10-2010, 09:28 PM
Hmm--I think you have to read a fair bit into Tolkien to find evidence of racism.

overt racism, no, but it's not hard to find moderately uncomfortable racial overtones. the good=white or light/evil=black dichotomy obviously (not that he was the first to do it, but the most influential perhaps). also a bunch of the humans supporting the bad guys are super-Orientalized. and the dwarves are uncomfortably...Jewish at points - which I'm pretty sure Tolkien alluded to himself. of course you have to allow for the time in which he was writing, which doesn't excuse everything but does go a ways towards amelioration. and there are worse offenders surely.I think his politics are easily explained by viewing them through the kind of Catholicism that loathed Vatican II (i.e. he would've liked the current pontiff) which went hand in hand with as tea mentioned small-c conservatism of the British variety. on the latter honestly he's not so far off from Orwell, even they were coming it at from opposite ends - Coming Up for Air is an idealization of a foregone English countryside that resembles nothing so much as the Shire, contrasted with the horrors of modernization etc (Mordor). i.e. Tolkien was no fan of the irreligious Hitler or Stalin, but a big fan of Franco - certainly a very unpleasant fellow - whose side in Spanish Civil war represented the epitome of devout, conservative Catholicism (at least on its surface - there was perhaps never a more piously hypocritical regime than Franco's). I reckon he'd be a big fan of the current Pope too.

padraig (u.s.)
24-10-2010, 09:54 PM
well tea said it mostly

anyway...I'd have to agree that fantasy tends towards conservatism. it's always looking backward, to something idyllic (pastoral - as Tolkien, feudal, Gothic, etc) whereas SF is pointed forward, or at least sideways, to new possibilities. also fantasy is about the triumphs of individuals i.e. when the hero defeats the evil king s/he is much more likely to become the new king rather than institute a socialist workers republic or anarchosyndicalist utopia (queue up Monty Python peasant), or in other words instead of a new system good defeats evil so that the old system can continue unabated, albeit ruled by good. whereas SF., while still using individual characters to tell stories, is more about the development or evolution of entire cultures of societies. not all of those are "radical" societies - for some reason it seems half the SF writers out there are obsessed with feudalism in space or Roman Empires in space or whatever - but at least the possibility is there in a way it isn't in fantasy. I mean how much fantasy do you see about successful peasant uprisings? exactly. although someone should write some, I reckon.

Mr. Tea
24-10-2010, 10:40 PM
Agreeing in turn with Padraig, for the most part - but with regard to Tolkien's support of Franco, I think a crucial part of this is that some of the more hardcore leftist/anarchist brigades in Spain at the time were anti-religious to the point of going around gunning down nuns; to a devout Catholic, any regime that opposes this can only be preferrable to the alternative. Though in fairness it's conceivable he'd have found Franco's regime acceptable to his sensibilities even absent the threat of militant atheists, I don't know. It goes without saying Franco's regime, as repugnant as it may have been, was nonetheless pretty far removed from Nazism.

On your point about 'good' monarchy replacing the overthrown 'evil' tyranny in mainstream fantasy, surely an exception to this is the Star Wars series - I say this on the basis that these films aren't really science fiction at all, but fantasy (fairy tales, really) dressed up as sci-fi because they have laser guns instead of long bows, Death Stars instead of magic superweapons and so on. I have no idea of George Lucas's personal politics but it's notable that he sets up a by-definition-good Republic against a by-definition-bad Empire. Or should this be viewed through specifically American eyes, in the sense of the fledgeling 13 States fighting for their freedom from tyrannical old Mother England?

Also, 'galactic feudalism' may be a well-trodden path in sci-fi, but it also features in Dune, which is an immense book.

vimothy
25-10-2010, 12:09 AM
Padraig,

That seems like quite an idealised vision of the two genres. There are reactionary currents in sci-fi as well. For instance, "dystopia". Sci-fi is often very pessimistic about progress, which is the reactionary party line in its very essence.

But there is something to the idea that fantasy is reactionary, I think, because there is this whiff of glorification of monarchy to fantasy. I certainly agree that Tolkien was a reactionary. You're spot on about conservative catholicism, IMO (also, Mr Tea above). His instincts were obviously not infallible, but not worse than many others in a century where there were a lot of bastards with widespread support.

I also agree that there's a lot of race in Tolkein. But I don't consider that racism per se. The light versus darkness thing is a bit of a stretch though. Whatever else you can accuse Tolkein of, I think that metaphor preceded him by more than a few years.

padraig (u.s.)
25-10-2010, 04:29 AM
well yeah Vim of course I'm dumbing things down a fair bit in the interest of not sitting around for 2 hours writing a mini-dissertation on the latent politics of the fantasy genre


There are reactionary currents in sci-fi as well. For instance, "dystopia". Sci-fi is often very pessimistic about progress, which is the reactionary party line in its very essence.

yeah there's plenty of reactionary SF, as I believed I noted myself. although it's a mistake to confuse dystopian & other strains of pessimism with reactionary. i.e. nearly all cyberpunk is at least quasi-dystopian but can hardly be said to be reactionary, & actually dystopianism in & of itself isn't necessarily reactionary, it depends on what point the dystopia is being used to make. if we're talking Atlas Shrugged then yeah reactionary. if we're talking something like The Sheep Look Up (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Sheep_Look_Up), the exact opposite. true reactionary SF is stuff like the old cold warriors (Heinlein, Jerry Pournelle, etc), or galactic empires like the Foundation series, tho even there you have to be careful b/c I certainly wouldn't call Dune reactionary - it's about empires & about power but not for empires if you catch my drift. which is is a distinction one usually has to make with speculative fiction, so much of it being satire or metaphor or allegory or what have you.


The light versus darkness thing is a bit of a stretch though. Whatever else you can accuse Tolkein of, I think that metaphor preceded him by more than a few years.

sure he was no worse than & indeed better than many if not all of his contemporaries and sure, the dark/light predates him (both points which, again, I noted), but the latter certainly is not a "stretch". it's so strongly developed that the Dark Black Villains of Shadowland vs. the White Fair-Skinned Blue Eyes of Light has been the template by which all fantasy is defined, either for, against, ambiguous towards(something like the Night Watch series) or satire thereof (http://www.amazon.com/Grunts-Mary-Gentle/dp/0451454537). which isn't to unfairly vilify the author but not excuse him either. Joseph Conrad was hardly the architect of the horrors of colonialism in the Congo, and the Heart of Darkness is an amazing piece of literature, but that still doesn't stop it & its central metaphor from being uncomfortable on many levels.

padraig (u.s.)
25-10-2010, 05:16 AM
On your point about 'good' monarchy replacing the overthrown 'evil' tyranny in mainstream fantasy, surely an exception to this is the Star Wars series

Star Wars is actually not all that progressive. remember, the rebellion isn't actually a revolution but a counter-revolution (leaving aside that the Empire is obv a tyrannical dictatorship) and even the original Republic while a nominal representative democracy was in fact much closer to a theocracy ruled, albeit benevolently, by the Jedi. they're also essentially old-style morality plays, in which heroes are tempted with sin & must resist it - it's about as Christian as can be. more than anything they're about individualists triumphing over an impersonal system. the whole Jedi thing is nothing if not elitist & the secular- non-Jedi - heroes are small-time capitalist entrepreneurs (Han, Lando) who make their $ illicitly by defying the Empire. if anything the Empire resembles the Evil Empire way more than mercantile Ye Olde England - all the dour gray uniforms, the enormous bureaucracies, centralized economic control and so on. I mean sure, the movies were made by a couple of mainstream liberals but there's a hell of a lot of Cold War overtones (maybe inescapably I guess).

and oh I mean the point is the same anyway - the whole point of the Rebellion is as noted to reinstall the same system that was there previously

Dunninger
25-10-2010, 09:39 AM
What about Mervyn Peake? I wouldn't call the Gormenghast novels radical in a political sense, but it's fantasy that's not really based in old european mythology like Tolkien etc., and a major theme is the struggle of the individual against a reactionary society that's stuck in tradition and bureaucracy.

Slothrop
25-10-2010, 09:48 AM
That seems like quite an idealised vision of the two genres. There are reactionary currents in sci-fi as well. For instance, "dystopia". Sci-fi is often very pessimistic about progress, which is the reactionary party line in its very essence.

But there is something to the idea that fantasy is reactionary, I think, because there is this whiff of glorification of monarchy to fantasy.
I think that both SF and fantasy have traditionally had fairly naive political structures as default 'good' societies that either need preserving or re-establishing - the good monarchy in fantasy and the benevolent technocracy / good empire / large scale republic in SF. But while SF started to undermine and question this sort of stuff at an early stage, and investigating possible good / bad social structures became a key part of SF, in fantasy, afaict, it remained very much in the background. Which is why Mieville seems radical by comparison - he's got something that's nominally a democracy but isn't actually very nice and he doesn't offer an easy alternative.


I certainly agree that Tolkien was a reactionary. You're spot on about conservative catholicism, IMO (also, Mr Tea above). His instincts were obviously not infallible, but not worse than many others in a century where there were a lot of bastards with widespread support.

I also agree that there's a lot of race in Tolkein. But I don't consider that racism per se. The light versus darkness thing is a bit of a stretch though. Whatever else you can accuse Tolkein of, I think that metaphor preceded him by more than a few years.
Yes, Tolkein mostly ust seems, as Tea said, small c conservative, a rural traditionalist. So he's into the environment (good), opposed to becoming cogs in the industrial machine (generally good) or trying to dominate others(good), not up for an archo-syndicalist revolution (bad) and a bit suspicious of strange foreign stuff (bad).

Mr. Tea
25-10-2010, 10:17 AM
not up for an archo-syndicalist revolution (bad)

That depends rather on whether you're an anarcho-syndicalist, no? ;)

Tolkien's 'xenophobia' is not as straightforward as all that, I think - there's a good case to be made that, in the Shire and its diminutive inhabitants, he's actually poking a bit of gentle fun at the unadventurous, borgeois, Little-Englander mentality. At any rate, the Tookish adventurousness/unpredictability and desire to see 'foreign parts' seems to be preferable to the traditional Baggins values of stolid respectability and the rather closed-minded, stay-at-home tendency that implies.

I think there are interesting arguments to be had more generally here, about the meaning of words like 'progressive' and 'radical'. Established religion, for example, is generally regarded as a conservative/reactionary force in society, but early Christianity was radical because it was a transformative ideology that threatened (and eventually subsumed) the authority of the Roman state. Similarly you have modern radical Islamist groups, whose stance on social issues is generally far to the right of even conservative secular governments, but which are no less radical for that, because they're revolutionary in intent.

Then if we examine the word 'progressive', couldn't it be said that early industrial capitalism was progressive in that it demolished the last vestiges of feudalism* and greatly reduced the power of the monarchy and nobility** in faviour of a new borgeois-entrepreneurial class? After the capitalist class had become firmly ensconced in the 19th century, 'progressive' in the 20th century came to mean more or less left-wing, though I guess in the sense of liberal democratic socialism rather than capital-c Communism. And where does the environment fit into this? These days you think of the environmental cause as inherently left-wing (especially in contrast to the American Right, good grief!) but it's certainly possible to be a social conservative and a massive greeny (Tolkien), or a Marxist-Leninist who sees the natural environment purely as fuel and fodder for the Proletariat's glorious factories and farms - the USSR is surely as good a model for Mordor as Nazi Germany or industrial Birmingham. Tolkien would agree with the anarchists in his simultaneous rejection of Nazism, state Socialism and capitalism - in fact he regarded himself as a bit of an 'anarchist', in a very specialised sense that is somehow compatible with his obvious love of monarchy; notably, the Shire has an elected Mayor rather than a king, although that society is so well insulated from anything resembling actual politics that the Mayor's duties seem to consist mainly of presiding over feasts and beery knees-ups (not an undesirable set-up, I think).

*though of course it helped entrench the class system, which I suppose derived to some extent from feudalism

**in many European countries the power of the Church forms a big part of this equation, but I guess the Church in England never recovered the political pre-eminence it lost after the break with Rome

Edit: unfortunately I can't really comment on any trad orcs'n'elves fantasy other than Tolkien, as I haven't really read any - oh, apart from C. S. Lewis, about whom the less said the better, probably (politically not so very different from Tolkien, as far as I can tell, only even more irksomely Christian and Anglican instead of Catholic).

Also, while Tolkien's writings are more or less explicitly spiritual in nature, it's remarkable that religion per se is almost absent. TLOTR and the Silmarillion abound with wizards, sybils, prophets and various dispensers of sacred wisdom, but there are no priests. In fact the only beings that demand worship as such are the Dark Lords and their various subordinates and imitators (the Nazgul, Saruman) - for a fervent Catholic, JRRT seems remarkably down on organised religion.

padraig (u.s.)
25-10-2010, 03:47 PM
I think there are interesting arguments to be had more generally here, about the meaning of words like 'progressive' and 'radical'.

reactionary = desire to maintain status quo/return to something that was previously, radical = its opposite the desire to tear down what is and install something new in its place, progressive = a watered down version of radical i.e. gradual change of the old usually via reform tho its come to refer to a kind of generic leftism not necessarily implied in its original meaning. it's entirely possible to have reactionary revolutionaries (usually they'd be counterrevolutionaries then like Francoist Spain) or leftist reactionaries, i.e. latter history of the USSR.

early Christianity was radical. then as the Church came into power and established interests to protect it became very reactionary (Protestants are a bit trickier to sort out). individual Catholic have often been progressive on various social issues or even radical - i.e. liberation theology - but the institution of the Church remains highly reactionary. Islamists, despite seeking revolution, are anything but radical. they're as reactionary as can be, seeking return to a 7th-century Caliphate or whatever. as far as early capitalism, sure the nascent bourgeois was progressive if usually not radical in its struggle against the status quo. again however, once that struggle was won it and its interests became established it became for the most part reactionary as it remains today - tho it may be a little bit less clear than the Church, given that capitalism is in no small part a continual process of the new devouring the old however all in the framework of the same status quo. anyway about a million famous people from Marx to Fredy Perlman have expounded on this at length so I'll leave off. but I guess the point is that progressive & radical don't always mean good things, it depends on what final goal of the change is.

environmentalism is also a bit tricky as it can be about a desire to return to something that was or a desire for something new or both at the same time. Tolkien is certainly of the former. I don't even know if you could say he was for "the environment" in the modern sense - which wasn't really a well-formulated idea in his time anyway - so much as for an idealized pastoral version of rural England. as far as outright xenophobia yeah I dunno, tho he does seem, well not naive but...I mean contrast him to say Graham Greene as far as another Catholic author with a much more shades of gray, cynical worldview.

Mr. Tea
25-10-2010, 04:25 PM
I think for Tolkien, 'the environment' = the natural world plus old-fashioned, low-tech, small-scale agriculture/horticulture/husbandry. Basically, the English landscape prior to the agricultural (as well as the industrial) revolution, minus the cities, such as they were in those days.

Your point about Islamists is interesting. If a significant part of the world were to come fully under the sway of, say, al-Qa'eda, how closely do you think that society would resemble the original Islamic Caliphate? Surely even just the differences necessitated by modern technology would be significant? Isn't it more likely that they'd bring about a society that was a distorted, idealised, anachronistic imitation of 7th-century Arabia, as the Shire is a distorted, idealised, anachronistic simulacrum of Olde England?

Edit: sorry, getting away from the main point here, but it's interesting and people who've studied history and politics might be able to help remedy my ignorant curiosity - anyway, if we accept that Islamists are reactionary, being in a sense counterrevolutionary rather than revolutionary, wouldn't Nazism nonetheless count as genuinely radical, in the sense that it sought to create a genuinely new kind of society that hadn't existed before? A unique mix of a half-invented nostalgic folk mythology coupled to a relentless enthusiasm for 'progress': technology, industry and science (or pseudoscience, in the case of their racial ideology). In fact putting it like that, national-socialist Germany almost starts to look like a distillation or natural conclusion of Victorian Britain, minus the Christianity, and with emphasis more on a kind of racial collectivism as opposed to the Victorian ideal of capitalist individualism. I wouldn't be surprised if something similar was going on in Japan around the same time - anyone know more about this?

Actually, given the degree to which both Tolkien (and much subsequent trad-fantasy) and the Nazis took inspiration from Germanic mythology, this isn't so off-topic. When The Hobbit came out shortly before the outbreak of WWII, Tolkien got a letter from a German publisher that wanted to put out a translation. He told them, in so many words, to fuck off, even going so far as to express his admiration for Jewish culture and regret that he didn't have any Jewish ancestry that he knew of, when they asked questions about how 'Aryisch' he was (c.f. padraig's point above about 'Jewish' dwarves).

Dunninger
25-10-2010, 06:30 PM
Edit: sorry, getting away from the main point here, but it's interesting and people who've studied history and politics might be able to help remedy my ignorant curiosity - anyway, if we accept that Islamists are reactionary, being in a sense counterrevolutionary rather than revolutionary, wouldn't Nazism nonetheless count as genuinely radical, in the sense that it sought to create a genuinely new kind of society that hadn't existed before?


In a pre-modern society the value and position of people is defined by birth. Nazism does exactly that, it's just not a system based on legitimation by god as in medieval europe, but race. Blood and soil and all that. So I'd say that Nazism is surely radical but still very reactionary.



In fact putting it like that, national-socialist Germany almost starts to look like a distillation or natural conclusion of Victorian Britain, minus the Christianity, and with emphasis more on a kind of racial collectivism as opposed to the Victorian ideal of capitalist individualism.

In From Hell Alan Moore says something quite similar, that Jack the Ripper (the distillation of the victorian age) gave birth to the 20th century.

TeN
04-12-2010, 05:35 AM
ahhhhh so glad to find this discussion here

I'm actually making a film right now (http://www.timewizardoutlaws.com/) that definitely qualifies for the "radical fantasy" label (though in aesthetic approach it's much more SF) - the whole idea is about money being black magic (invented out of thin air, multiplying on its own, etc.) and time traveling rebels hiding out in pre-history from the evil dystopian government.

but yeah... I've been asking myself the same question for some time. I think the looking forward/looking backward aspect is certainly part of it, though it's still always puzzled me that nominally liberal people would fall unquestioningly into the seemingly obvious "good empire" trap.

Morcock has already been mentioned. I think his essay "Stormship Startroopers" (http://flag.blackened.net/liberty/moorcock.html) is an excellent touchstone for this conversation, especially in how he describes the speculative fiction scene in the '60s and '70s and speculates on why he sees so many radicals drawn to what he sees as politically repulsive stuff

luka
04-12-2010, 08:19 AM
i bet moorcock is a cracking bloke and would be fantastic company, but lets be honest the books are pretty appaling, not withstanding some lovely ideas. the prose is some of the worst around.

Benny B
04-12-2010, 10:12 AM
Anyone read any George RR Martin? I just finished the 'Sandkings' short story collection and it was excellent fantasy/sci-fi writing...very darkly humourous stuff. Some of you might remember Sandkings from that old TV show, Outer limits.

Apparently he's written tons of novels, anyone know which ones are worth checking out?

Mr. Tea
02-12-2011, 11:39 AM
I think a large part of it is that kingdoms and empires are just inherently more romantic to read about, whether they're good or evil, than social democracies or workers' collectives.

Slothrop
02-12-2011, 12:03 PM
But it seems like the genre that, more than any other, has license to jump out of capitalist realism and real world models and so on and actually posit completely different forms of social organisation or ways of thinking about society or the self or whatever - either intricately worked out or highly speculative and impressionistic.

Having slated Perdido Street Station a bit earlier on, it does at least have an attempt at that with the purely anarchist garuda society...

sufi
12-03-2015, 11:25 PM
https://www.change.org/p/death-bring-back-terry-pratchett?lang=en-GB

Mr. Tea
08-04-2017, 10:23 PM
http://static.existentialcomics.com/comics/councilOfElrond1.png

http://static.existentialcomics.com/comics/councilOfElrond2.png

http://static.existentialcomics.com/comics/councilOfElrond3.png

droid
08-04-2017, 10:49 PM
He should really have acknowledged that McSweeny's piece