The Closing of the Science Fiction Mind

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If you don’t want a man unhappy politically, don’t give him two sides to a question to worry him; give him one.

Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451

 

 

I have read science fiction since I first learned to read as a child.  I enjoyed the exposure to new ideas and the frequently iconoclastic opinions, many of which I disagreed with, by the great authors of the field:  Asimov, Heinlein, Anderson, Dickson, etc.  Their imagination and writing skills took me far away from the small town in which I lived and enlivened my life by revealing to me that books could be tickets to strange worlds and stranger people.  They helped to teach me to like to read and to like to think, both of which I have found handy throughout my life.  It is sad then to see that science fiction in this country is now beset by those who wish to impose a stifling political orthodoxy on it.  John C. Wright, a science fiction writer and a convert from atheism to Catholicism, gives us the details:

Robert Heinlein could not win a Hugo Award today.

If you are a fan of science fiction, you know how shocking that statement is. If you are not a science fiction fan, I salute you for having better things to do with your time than read stories about space princesses being rescued from bug-eyed monsters by stalwart and clean-limbed fighting men of Virginia; but please let me explain why this is shocking.

Robert Heinlein is without doubt the leading writer in the science fiction field. He was the first to break into the slick magazines or into hardcover. Were it not for him, science fiction would still be languishing in a literary ghetto, no more popular than niche-market stories about samurai or railroad executives.

He was a gadfly. Heinlein’s two most famous novels are Starship Troopers and Stranger in a Strange Land. The first challenges the orthodoxy of the Left as much as the second does that of the Right. But in his day, few science fiction readers were offended by his or anyone’s ideas. Science fiction was proud to be a literature of the new and startling. A spirit of intellectual fearlessness was paramount.

A darker time followed. The lamps of the intellect were put out one by one, first in society at large, then in literature, then in our little corner called science fiction. What we have now instead is a smothering fog of caution, of silence, of an unwillingness to speak for fear of offending the perpetually hypersensitive.

Science fiction is under the control of the thought police. The chains are invisible, but real. For a genre that glories in counting George Orwell as one of its own, this is ironic, to say the least.

Myriad examples exist. Orson Scott Card publicly expressed the mildest imaginable opposition to having judges overrule popular votes defining marriage in the traditional way. The uproar of hate directed against this innocent and honorable man is vehement and ongoing. An unsuccessful boycott was organized against the movie Ender’s Game, but he was successfully shoved off a project to write for Superman comics.

Got that? The award-winning Mr. Card, one of the finest science fiction writers today, was forced off the project because the dictates of his religious faith (not to mention his faith in democracy over rule by activist judges) did not agree with the political beliefs of the thought police.

No one accused him of attempting to write a Superman story belittling homosexuals, or belittling anyone. Sales would have grown, not fallen. This was not about money or hurt feelings. It was about this: if a man thinks what St. Paul thought about homosexual acts, he cannot write a children’s yarn about a friendly alien Hercules saving a spunky girl reporter from mad scientists or moon-apes.

Go here to Intercollegiate Review to read the rest.  In the sixties leftists used to say that the personal was political.  The port side of our politics certainly lives that claim.  Nothing exists for many of them other than their politics, and wherever they gain a foothold they seek to impose their beliefs on others.  They are like the Borg, except they do not give fair warning.

Perhaps Commander Michael Eddington’s speech from the Deep Space Nine episode For The Cause is apropos:
I know you. I was like you once, but then I opened my eyes. Open your eyes, Captain. Why is the Federation so obsessed with the Maquis? We’ve never harmed you. And yet we’re constantly arrested and charged with terrorism. Starships chase us through the Badlands and our supporters are harassed and ridiculed. Why? Because we’ve left the Federation, and that’s the one thing you can’t accept. Nobody leaves paradise. Everyone should want to be in the Federation. Hell, you even want the Cardassians to join. You’re only sending them replicators because one day they can take their “rightful place” on the Federation Council. You know, in some ways you’re even worse than the Borg. At least they tell you about their plans for assimilation. You’re more insidious. You assimilate people and they don’t even know it.

7 Responses to The Closing of the Science Fiction Mind

  • Excellent and very thought provoking.

  • Robert Heinlein was my all-time favorite. His “Time Enough for Love” was first on my list.

    Isaac Asimov with his “I, Robot” series and his “Foundation” series was second favorite.

    I did not agree with much of what either man wrote regarding philosophy or politics, but they challenged me to think and to dream.

    With liberal progressive Democrats all I get are stifling nightmares where I cannot even scream.

    I hate godless liberal progressive Democracy – two wolves and one sheep voting on what’s for dinner.

  • I think I’ve replied to a similar post previously. I too am (was?) a science-fiction fan,
    since the 30’s and my first issue of Amazing stories, with a dragon-like alien menacing a full-breasted beauty in a transparent space-suit.
    I’ve stopped reading because of the political correctness. Forty or fity years ago Theodore Sturgeon, Ursula Le Guin and others explored novel types of sexuality in a thought-provoking way. Issues of mind control, political authority were dealt with as debatable.
    I’ve restricted myself now to rereading classics that adhere to faith–Robert Hugh Benson’s “Lord of the World”, C.S. Lewis’s “Out of the Silent Planet” trilogy, Walter Miller’s “A Canticle for Liebowitz”, R.A. Lafferty’s and Gene Wolfe’s stories.

  • (Great writing and good timing. Watching an episode of Cosmos last night with all the solemn references and flashy graphics on global warming made me ill.)

    Isaac Asimov’s Foundation Trilogy is my personal favorite. Trying to include warped same sex relationships in that story, is to tell a story of a doomed civilization. But we have hope, and assurance…

    I have come to believe that in the end, this war on the nature of: man, woman, marriage and family, will not end well for those who promote such things. (something of the Logic in the Foundation series is there in this thinking… ) And the True Church, having alone survived, will rise from the dead. As,, “it has happened before, in fact many times before. G.K.C.”

  • I’m not a reader of science fiction but when I do get into it, the part I like is the religious or moral overtones. We live on a scientific age and science is a great mystery – which leaves plenty of room for imaginative play and ontological speculation.
    So the story thread in science fiction flights of fancy, is morality and meaning and purpose. Just like in any good story. We love mystery and we love God ( at least allusions to) the import of life and love even in our tales of “what if.”
    I had never heard of Mr Card and his troubles, but I am not surprised.

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