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Political Ideas in Science Fiction

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Explanations or commentary on political ideas are commonplace in works of science fiction. Dystopias offer obvious opportunities to explore political ideology but so too do stories about encounters with non-human intelligences: extraterrestrial, machine and trans-human. The political ideas explored in science fiction range from seemingly futuristic avant garde political theories to expressions of "timeless" contemporary prejudices. The escapist appeal of science fiction means that many writers and readers embrace libertarianism [1] or militarism, or both. The libertarian and militarist themes in the novels written by Robert A. Heinlein are barely distinguishable from lecturing. [2] More subtle approaches include explorations of the costs incurred in pursuing contradictory ideals. John Barnes explores the effects of globalization in his Million Open Doors series of novels.

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