tisdag 4 juli 2017

Towards an Understanding of Right-Wing SF: "Science Fiction Seen from the Right" and Why It Was Written


Science Fiction Seen from the Right is a sermon on conservative sf and fantasy.




My name is Lennart Svensson. In 2016, Australian imprint Manticore Books published my book-length essay Science Fiction Seen From the Right. On publication I posted this to present the book.

But I can say more about it. Much more. In the post you're now reading I will give some more background, background of the "man in the street, sf-reader"-related type.

- - -

I was born in Sweden in 1965. I pretty early got to know about "science fiction," primarily by seeing TV-series such as Fenix 5, Star Trek and Space 1999. In the 1980s I started to read sf and fantasy in earnest, soon becoming active in Swedish sf fandom. I also became familiar with the English language which I now primarily write in.

When discussing sf in the fandom [link to Swedish blog post] of the 1980s and on, the drift among fans, writers, critics and editors was mainly of a left-leaning, anti-traditional, anti-conservative kind. For instance, "Heinlein" in those days was considered a label for reactionary, possibly fascist fiction -- as such, a veritable Mark of Cain and a plague flag. This was true in both Swedish and British fandom of those days, maybe even in the US.

I read some Heinlein back in the day. And I liked it. And as time went by I discovered that this Heinlein figure was more than a teller of mindless adventures. He conceptualised attitudes and ideas worth looking closer at -- right-wing attitudes, and as such not merely of the "libertarian, economic, pro-free enterprise" kind but of a generally traditionalist ilk, stressing the need for eternal values such as duty, honor, courage, self-restraint, magnanimity and faith.

- - -

Thus it was. Then, later, I thought: would it be possible to have this, Tradition in the form of traditional values, as an angle to look at 20th century sf and fantasy? Could a comprehensive study of "right-wing sf" be written, gathering my views and aspects of writers like Heinlein, Frank Herbert, C. S. Lewis, Tolkien, Lovecraft, E. R. Burroughs, Lovecraft, Howard, Pournelle and Bradbury? -- At least, in 2015 I set out to write such an essay and the next year it was published.

Exhaustive info on the book is given here. As I say there, the book also contains chapters on left-leaning or "neutral" writers of sf that nontheless can be interesting to look at from a right-wing angle, the eternal values-angle (such as Clarke, Moorcock, Ballard, European dystopian writers, Philip K. Dick and van Vogt). There are also chapters on sf film, sf art, sf comics and the development of the genre as such.

- - -

"Right" and "left" are topical issues in the sf field today. Heard about "the Hugo Wars"...? [Here's an entry in Swedish on the site Motpol explaining the Hugo Wars phenomenon.] Whatever the outcome the leftist hegemony in the field of SF has been challenged from 2014 and on. And as a man of the Right this, Science Fiction Seen From the Right, is my statement in the argument.

The book has been appreciated. For instance, on Counter-Currents, James O'Meara said of it: "[W]ith a title like Science Fiction from the Right, one can consider this an automatic purchase for anyone on the “Alt Right.”"

Also, the book was the main feature when I was interviewed by Red Ice Radio in June this year.




Related
The Essay
Painters and Draughtsmen
The Swedenborg Machine
The Not-So-Good of Philip K. Dick
(In Swedish): Jag och sf-fandom

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