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At the recent Worldcon, I was asked to moderate a panel on “Using SFF as sandboxes for ideas on politics and society“, with co-panellists Eyal Kless from Israel, Sam Hawke from Australia and Taiyo Fujii from Japan. It was quite an experience to run a discussion between participants with such varied backgrounds, and I am afraid that I did not keep notes from most of the discussion. Towards the end, though, I asked the panellists to share some sff that they felt explored political ideas in an interesting way, and these were the responses - not by any means an exhaustive list, just what occurred to four people (and an audience member) one afternoon.

My own suggestions:
  • Older novel - The Next Generation, by John Francis Maguire, reviewed by me here. Written in 1870, set in 1891 in a near-future world where there is a railway tunnel between Dover and Calais, privately owned steam-powered balloons are becoming a traffic problem in London's skies, women have had the vote and access to the professions of law and medicine for almost twenty years, Ireland has Home Rule, and Britain has just conquered China. Admittedly it doesn’t do much with those ideas, but it’s an interesting diversion.
  • More recent novel: The Dispossessed, by Ursula K. Le Guin. I’m in the middle of rereading it now, so will post more later.
  • Non-print media: Doctor Who, of course.
Eyal Kless:Sam Hawke:Taiyo Fujii:Audience suggestions:Plenty of reading material there.

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November 2019


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