Jacobin Mag: How Sci-Fi Shaped Socialism

How Sci-Fi Shaped Socialism


From William Morris to Ursula K. Le Guin and Iain M. Banks, science fiction has provided an outlet for socialist thinkers — offering readers a break from capitalist realism and allowing us to imagine a vastly different world.

Kim Stanley Robinson’s latest novel, The Ministry for the Future, challenges the dominance of capitalist realism in the Global North by setting out a speculative future history in which collective action brings capitalism to an end and saves the world from climate change. In imagining an alternative to the status quo, Robinson continues a long, honorable tradition of left-wing science fiction authors writing utopian fiction.

The tradition stretches back at least to William Morris’s News from Nowhere (1890), which tells of a proletarian revolution leading to an ideal society without poverty or oppression. In their different ways, Robinson and Morris share a vision of humanity living through labor as a social activity that operates both in and against nature. All such works, and those of other famous socialist utopian novelists from H. G. Wells to Iain M. Banks, further the cause of socialism by providing readers with radical depictions of post-capitalist life that rarely exist elsewhere in the media.


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