Libertarian science fiction

Libertarian science fiction is a subgenre of science fiction that focuses on the politics and social order implied by libertarian philosophies with an emphasis on individualism and private ownership of the means of production—and in some cases, no state whatsoever.[1]

As a category, libertarian fiction is unusual because the vast majority of its authors are self-identified as science fiction authors. This contrasts with the authors of much other social criticism who are largely academic or mainstream novelists who tend to dismiss any genre classification. The identification between libertarianism and science fiction is so strong that the U.S. Libertarian Party often has representatives at science fiction conventions and one of the highest profile authors currently in the subgenre of libertarian science fiction, L. Neil Smith, was the Arizona Libertarian Party's 2000 candidate for the President of the United States.[2]

As a genre, it can be seen as growing out of the 1930s and 1940s when the science-fiction pulp magazines were reaching their peak at the same time as fascism and communism. While this environment gave rise to dystopian novels such as George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four, in the pulps, this influence more often give rise to speculations about societies (or sub-groups) arising in direct opposition to "totalitarianism."

Ayn Rand's novel Atlas Shrugged is a strong (perhaps the strongest) influence with an anti-socialist attitude and an individualist ethic that echoes throughout the genre.[3] Of more direct relevance to the science fiction end of this genre is Robert A. Heinlein's The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress, which is highly regarded even by non-libertarian science fiction readers. An award for libertarian science fiction, the Prometheus Award, is given out every year. Some winners of the award identify as libertarians (e.g., L. Neil Smith, Victor Koman, Brad Linaweaver), while others do not (Terry Pratchett, Charles Stross).

Some other prominent libertarian science fiction authors include S. Andrew Swann[4] and Michael Z. Williamson.[5]

Notable examples

See also


  1. Raymond, Eric. "A Political History of SF". Retrieved 2007-12-04.
  2. "Presidential Elections Statistics 2000 Popular Votes for L. Neil Smith (most recent) by state". Retrieved 2007-12-04.
  3. Snider, John C. "But Is It Science Fiction? – Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged". Retrieved 2007-12-04.
  4. "S. Andrew Swann". Spectrum Literary Agency. Retrieved 2008-04-02.
  5. Wagner, T. M. (2004). "Freehold / Michael Z. Williamson". Retrieved 2008-04-02.
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