science fiction and politics

Arguments for a New STAR TREK Series

by on 2013-02-19- 11 Comments

Cardassia RuinsBecause "53 reasons" is just plain stupid, and increments of five are basically listicles, I provide three.

1. We are heading straight for maximum Star Wars saturation. Despite its ham-handed didacticism,  Star Trek's values are far preferable to those of Star Wars. We cannot allow aristocratic fantasy to bury republican virtue.

2. JJ Abrams is a pretty good action director, but he doesn't seem to understand the intellectual possibilities of science fiction. At its best, Star Trek has been one of the few non-cable programs to explore those possibilities. And it has almost invariably done so better within the format of episodic television than that of the "major motion picture."

3. Onward toward the 25th Century! By the third season of The Next Generation, it was pretty clear that the political communities of Star Trek -- including the United Federation of Planets and the Klingon Empire -- are themselves important "characters" in the franchise. We've seen the Federation evolve --and not always for the best -- in light of the Borg and Dominion threats; we've learned just how much its status as a "post-scarcity society" rests on maintaining a Terra-centric utopia within a much harsher galaxy. We've watched the Klingon Empire repeatedly fail to reconcile the theory and practice of honor. Cardassia has broken our hearts time and time again.

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Podcast No. 12 – ISA-NE2012 SF and Pedagogy Panel (mp3)

by on 2012-11-07- 1 Comment

This is the audio (in mp3 format) from the Speculative Fiction and Pedagogy panel at the International Studies Association-Northeast 2012 convention. The panel featured Henry Farrell, Dan Nexon, Jennifer Lobasz, and PTJ.

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Podcast No. 12 – ISA-NE2012 SF and Pedagogy Panel (m4a)

by on 2012-11-07- Leave a reply

This is the audio (in m4a format) from the Speculative Fiction and Pedagogy panel at the International Studies Association-Northeast 2012 convention. The panel featured Henry Farrell, Dan Nexon, Jennifer Lobasz, and PTJ.
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Alastair Reynolds, Blue Remembered Earth

by on 2012-11-01- 3 Comments

I think Duck of Minerva readers will really enjoy this podcast. Lots on the near-future imaginary, technological change, and other topics of interest.

From the write up at New Books in Science Fiction and Fantasy:

Blue Remembered Earth (Gollantz, 2012) takes place roughly 150 years in the future. Climate change, as well as the political and economic rise of Africa, have transformed the planet. Humanity is colonizing the solar system. Geoffrey Akinya, grandson of a visionary businesswoman, cares most about his scientific work with elephants. His sister, Sunday, pursues the life of an artist in an anarchic commune on the moon. But their grandmother’s death sets in motion an interplanetary treasure hunt with the potential to change humanity’s future.

Alastair Reynolds‘ latest book has received much critical praise; there’s a sense among some science-fiction writers and fans that Blue Remembered Earth marks an important development in the genre itself. Whatever readers may think of it, Reynolds is a gregarious and fascinating interview subject, and I’m very pleased that he agreed to record this podcast.

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The Politics of the Hunger Games

by on 2012-10-12- 5 Comments

As I've mentioned before, one of the projects that I'm working on now is a book provisionally entitled "The Politics of the Hunger Games." PM and I are overdue in submitting a full proposal to the press. In an earlier post I sketched out some provisional chapter titles. Here I provide a more complete list and a synopsis of the final chapter.

This is definitely a "crowdsourcing" post, so comments are appreciated. Details and spoilers below the fold.

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Quick Questions (More SF&F Podcast Blogging)

by on 2012-09-05- Leave a reply

When I asked for suggestions for interview subjects for the NBinSFF podcast, Alastair Reynolds was high on the list (albeit mostly over email channels). Well,
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My Interview with Ken MacLeod

by on 2012-09-05- Leave a reply

The New Books in Science Fiction and Fantasy channel of the New Books Network launched today. In its inaugural podcast, I interview Ken MacLeod about
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Podcast No. 3: Elkus and Atherton on “Grand Blog Tarkin”

by on 2012-08-03- Leave a reply

The third episode of the Duck of Minerva Podcast just went live. This one is longish. Adam Elkus (and numerous other places, e.g.) and Kelsey D.
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Communities and otherness: a typology

by on 2012-06-01- Leave a reply

I have long been intrigued by Orson Scott Card's typology of relations to the other, as expressed in his novel Speaker for the Dead. I
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Academic Rigor in the Classroom: Time to Get Serious?

by on 2012-04-28- 48 Comments

Charli, Dan and Patrick at ISA 2013? The academics/educators who write this blog often locate their research and teaching interests in texts from popular culture.
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A Dothraki Complaint

by on 2012-04-27- 10 Comments

Drogo as angry brown man.Source: dothraki.orgGraddakh! We the brown people of Vaes Dothrak collectively curse the producers of HBO and the slanderous "creator" of our
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SF, IR, and Pedagogy

by on 2012-04-11- 5 Comments

After Charli's video mashup this feels pretty lame, but I did promise the slides from my talk. Thanks again to all those who responded to the
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UnChristian Content

by on 2012-04-09- Leave a reply

Christian conservative crusaders have targeted Electronic Arts for its inclusion of LGBT relationships in its games, including Bioware's Dragon Age, Mass Effect, and Old Republic
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Pop Culture Narratives in World Politics: A Bleg

by on 2012-04-03- Leave a reply

I will be on a panel at 1.45pm in Indigo A with the following description:There has been a growing body of work in world politics
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Yes, Matt Yglesias, Panem is an extractive, totalitarian empire

by on 2012-03-22- 3 Comments

[UPDATED] Yglesias asks if "any real country could have an economy like Panem's?" His answer comes via a synopsis of Daron Acemoglu and James Robinson's
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(Some of) The Politics of the Hunger Games

by on 2012-03-21- Leave a reply

As regular readers know, I assigned The Hunger Games in the last iteration of my SciFi class. Ever since then, I've been thinking about doing a short
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Geeking Out on the Theory-Policy Divide

by on 2012-03-21- Leave a reply

As I gathered content today for my upcoming ISA presentation on social media, I was delighted to discover that my "Blog Wars" video from few
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Sunday Nerd Blogging

by on 2012-03-18- Leave a reply

 A monologue from Julian Comstock, Robert Charles Wilson's fascinating novel of post-scarcity America:You might want to consider your tone of voice, Private Commongold. May I
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Cyber Nerd Blogging: Neuroscience, Conflict and Security

by on 2012-02-29- Leave a reply

Antoine Bousquet has a fascinating post at Disorder of Things on developments in neuroscience and how they are being used by militaries to 1) enhance
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Friday “I Really Am Just a Nerd” Blogging

by on 2012-01-27- Leave a reply

I was shocked, shocked to read Brian Rathbun's characterization of me in a recent Canard as a "robot" who has only been posing as a
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