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Science Fiction and Conservatism:

Like Eugene Volokh and Glenn Reynolds, I too am a big fan of John Scalzi's recent Science fiction books Old Man's War and Ghost Brigades. But the New York Times was wrong to describe the Volokh Conspiracy and Glenn as "conservative" in its review of Scalzi's works.

More fundamentally, it is not clear to me that there really is much affinity between science fiction and conservatism. Most of the prominent "conservative" science fiction writers (e.g. - Robert A. Heinlein, whose work the reviewer compares with Scalzi's) are in fact libertarian in their ideology. Conservatism, or at least those variants of it that emphasize the value of tradition, is likely to be in tension with the emphasis on progress in both technology and social organization that is a major theme of science fiction. Religious conservatism is likely to be in similar tension with the rationalism that is a major part of the sci fi ethos.

Conservative traditionalism probably has greater affinity with fantasy literature than with science fiction. Fantasy often relies on nostalgia for the values of the past and tends to be suspicious of social change. And it is no accident that some of the greatest fantasy writers (most notably J.R.R. Tolkien) have also been conservatives.

This is not to say that there is no conservative science fiction or that conservatives shouldn't like sci fi. Some science fiction can be conservative by cutting against some of the dominant themes of the genre; similarly, there are liberal and even a few libertarian fantasy novels. And there are good reasons for enjoying literary works that you don't agree with ideologically. Personally, I like fantasy even more than science fiction, even though the latter is a much better fit for my libertarian ideology.

Finally, like Eugene, I'm happy to receive any review copies of science fiction books that publishers care to send me:). Who better to review new Sci fi and fantasy books than a blogger who has devoted posts to such topics as the portrayal of federalism in science fiction and fantasy, and The Law of Star Trek?

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  1. Science Fiction and Conservatism:
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