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date: 07 July 2020

Abstract and Keywords

Libertarian and anarchist science fiction have several shared characteristics. Both demonstrate the tendency of SF to question, queer, or torque the present, presenting views that interrogate the status quo and common sense. Both political dispositions have their roots in eighteenth-century political liberalism, though each has developed along different paths. Using select titles from the Prometheus Award for Libertarian SF (including works by L. Neil Smith, Robert A. Heinlein, Ayn Rand), this chapter charts similarities and differences among representative examples of SF that center on questions of individual rights and social justice. Libertarian and anarchist SF (the latter represented in works by Ursula K. Le Guin and Ken MacLeod) are all the more interesting for the radical challenge they present to complacent conceptions of the commonweal and common woe, and hence they provide a fine representation of what SF, at its best and worst, can accomplish.

Keywords: science fiction, libertarianism, anarchism, political liberalism, Prometheus Award, individual rights, social justice, Robert A. Heinlein, Ayn Rand, Ursula K. Le Guin

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