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December 10, 2012
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Politics and Fiction

:icontehbigd:
tehbigd Featured By Owner Dec 10, 2012
Which authors' fictional work, in your mind, best embodies a political/religious idea? This can be anything from a single book, to an entire body of work.

For instance: I've always thought Arthur C Clarke was a great example of a socialist. Between the 2001 series and any number of other books, he pretty much stated that the end-result of any society is going to be a socialist state. His "machine society" in 2001 was completely Communist, but only worked because it wasn't people. It was a funny idea, when I read it, that a political idea could be perfect, but because of human nature be terrible in practice. The fun thing about his work is that, whenever possible, he coached it with the best approximation of science he could do, even making some fantastic predictions about our solar system.

Other books that held interesting political ideas IMO: Snowcrash, by Neal Stephenson; the Sprawl Trilogy by William Gibson: Starship Troopers, by Heinlein; C.S. Lewis's retelling of Christian Mythology in the Narnia series; Alan Moore's V For Vendetta on anarchy; Neal Gaiman's wonderful world in American Gods, and any number of classic answers.
Don't be afraid to share, I'm looking for recommendations just as much as ideas. I'd love to hear some opinions on how all of you think life imitates art, or vice versa.
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:iconheaven-spawn:
heaven-spawn Featured By Owner Dec 23, 2012
e e cummings
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:iconsaintartaud:
saintartaud Featured By Owner Dec 20, 2012  Professional General Artist
One author people don't talk about a lot is Doris Lessing.  I only got into her earlier this year, but much of her work is political, or at least deals with politics as an issue.  The novels from the Children of Violence series and The Golden Notebook contain some pretty painful indictments of communist groups from the 1930s-1950s.  Not from a reactionary angle, but from someone deeply involved with the party in Rhodesia for at least a decade and for some of her time in England.  She also touches on some feminist issues, though she dislikes being called a feminist writer.  The novels I read also touched on issues of racial discrimination in colonial Africa, though my understanding is that's more the main subject of The Grass is Singing.

I also read some E.M. Forster a while back and was for some reason surprised by how much he dealt with the politics and class in Edwardian England.  I mean, the love interest in Room With a View is the son of *gasp* a working class socialist, which the Merchant/Ivory adaptation kinda glosses over.  Howard's End is pretty interesting from a political angle as well.
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:icondragonflae:
Dragonflae Featured By Owner Dec 20, 2012
Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West surprisingly does a great job embodying government, class warfare, equal rights and religion in its entirety.
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:iconheaven-spawn:
heaven-spawn Featured By Owner Dec 24, 2012
is that a joke movie?
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:icondragonflae:
Dragonflae Featured By Owner Dec 24, 2012
No, it's a book and a Broadway musical. The only joke here is you.
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:iconheaven-spawn:
heaven-spawn Featured By Owner Dec 24, 2012
i thought it was a joke movie
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:iconmaddmatt:
maddmatt Featured By Owner Dec 18, 2012
Goodnight Moon.

Of course, with the fiscal cliff talks, I think this book is insightful, "If You Give a Moose a Muffin."
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:iconheaven-spawn:
heaven-spawn Featured By Owner Dec 24, 2012
i love that book
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:iconragerancher:
Ragerancher Featured By Owner Dec 11, 2012
- I think Charles Dickens works best showed the importance of basic welfare and employment laws.
- George Orwell, the dangers of state and propaganda
- Shogun highlights the dodgy dealings and dirty politics in the world very well
- His dark materials trilogy represents the dangers of religious institutions
- Lastly I'd have to say Terry Pratchet discworld books. They may be very humourous and absurd but some of the observations are pretty accurate and astute.
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:icontehbigd:
tehbigd Featured By Owner Dec 12, 2012
I haven't read Shogun, I'll have to get around to that.
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:iconragerancher:
Ragerancher Featured By Owner Dec 12, 2012
It's long but a very good read imo
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:iconferricplushy:
FerricPlushy Featured By Owner Dec 11, 2012  Hobbyist Artist
Does Idiocracy count as fiction?
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:iconghostinthepines:
GhostInThePines Featured By Owner Dec 10, 2012  Hobbyist Photographer
I'm surprised "Atlas Shrugged" hasn't been mentioned yet considering its recent portrayal on film...

Or "Animal Farm" with its 'commentary' on the Soviet Union of the Cold War years.
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:iconmclandis:
Mclandis Featured By Owner Dec 11, 2012  Hobbyist Photographer
That's because Atlas Shrugged sucks horribly.
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:iconghostinthepines:
GhostInThePines Featured By Owner Dec 11, 2012  Hobbyist Photographer
huh, I think that depends on your political views. All of Ayn Rand's books are actually still in print, and her influences on society are quite impressive.
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:iconmclandis:
Mclandis Featured By Owner Dec 11, 2012  Hobbyist Photographer
Most of the other books that were listed offer more substantial messages other than "greed and selfishness are good."

Regardless of viewpoint, Atlas Shrugged is full of severe plot holes and just plain old bad writing. It only gets attention because of Ayn Rand's personality cult.
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:iconghostinthepines:
GhostInThePines Featured By Owner Dec 11, 2012  Hobbyist Photographer
And yet Atlas Shrugged has made several lists of the most influencial books...

All of Rand's books are still being printed despite having been written decades ago. Even though critics hated her works, they only gained in popularity over the years. And considering she was born and raised in Russia and spent her early teen years under Lenin's rule, I think she had a legit reason to hate anything smelling of communism & socialism.
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:iconmclandis:
Mclandis Featured By Owner Dec 14, 2012  Hobbyist Photographer
All of Rand's books are still being printed despite having been written decades ago.

As is A Tale of Two Cities. By the way, it's a much better book and isn't full of plot holes.

And considering she was born and raised in Russia and spent her early teen years under Lenin's rule, I think she had a legit reason to hate anything smelling of communism & socialism.

The Soviet Union didn't even come close to being a real Communist entity

Also, there is no legitimate reason for promoting a philosophy which can be summarized by the song Money.
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:iconghostinthepines:
GhostInThePines Featured By Owner Dec 14, 2012  Hobbyist Photographer
Right, Soviet Union not coming close to being Communist, and yet they would seize people's businesses if they thought they could convince people it was for the betterment of the country...
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:iconmclandis:
Mclandis Featured By Owner Dec 18, 2012  Hobbyist Photographer
That's not communism, not according to the Communist Manifesto.
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(1 Reply)
:icondivine--apathia:
divine--apathia Featured By Owner Dec 12, 2012  Hobbyist Photographer
popularity =/= quality.

Fifty shades of grey is one of the most popular books, most sold books of all time. It's filled with shitty writing, and has been condemned by the kink community.
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:iconghostinthepines:
GhostInThePines Featured By Owner Dec 12, 2012  Hobbyist Photographer
Ayn Rand's writing has been around for decades though. Crappy writing usually doesn't get passed on to the next generation. Fifty Shades and Twilight both will end up fading into obscurity once the initial following finds something else to fawn over. You don't hear much about the Da Vinci Code anymore, and everyone thought that was so great when it first came out...
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:iconskulkey:
skulkey Featured By Owner Dec 12, 2012  Professional Digital Artist
you're forgetting that L Ron Hubbard's work has been around for as long, not because it's good, but because the cult of personality keeps it alive.
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(1 Reply)
:icontheawsomeopossum:
TheAwsomeOpossum Featured By Owner Dec 10, 2012
Well, it doesn't exactly embody a specific political opinion, but I hope you've read Ender's Game.
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:icontehbigd:
tehbigd Featured By Owner Dec 10, 2012
Of course I have!
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:icontheawsomeopossum:
TheAwsomeOpossum Featured By Owner Dec 11, 2012
Heh, well then that I suppose is a good one.
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:icondivine--apathia:
divine--apathia Featured By Owner Dec 10, 2012  Hobbyist Photographer
A Song of Ice and Fire.

People are too busy fighting over the iron throne, to see what's happening beyond the wall.
Daenerys is too idealistic, by far.
Ned put his code of ethics before reasoning and logic.
etc.


It's rather interesting to note, we've seen miracles/magic/prophecies from the drowned god, R'hllor, Many-faced god, The old gods/children of the forest, etc , etc ,etc.

But curiously, The Seven, The main religion in Westeros has been suspiciously quiet.


I have some theories about the gods/religion within ASOIAF, but obviously, it's rather mysterious at the moment :shrug:
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:icontehbigd:
tehbigd Featured By Owner Dec 10, 2012
I've avoided that series so far, especially with so many people harping about the TV show, but I definitely see the skullduggery and such in it.

I'd love to hear those theories, by the way. The little you've said is reminding me very much of Lovecraft, who was very interesting to read.
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:icondivine--apathia:
divine--apathia Featured By Owner Dec 12, 2012  Hobbyist Photographer
to be clear, bran was lead to the children of the forest, not the old gods :lol:
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:icondivine--apathia:
divine--apathia Featured By Owner Dec 12, 2012  Hobbyist Photographer
I started reading the books, before the tv show came out.

I believe (And the author confirms it) that gods will not be a deus ex machina.

However, I believe that G.R.R. Martin will, however, challenge our views of the gods. Most of the gods have been pigeon holed, yet all the characters in the book are shades of gray, not black or white.

For example, most people believe that R'hllor is bad because he require human sacrifice, yet I believe that melisandre, who is obsessed about R'hllor, isn't overly bad.

For example, the old gods. The old gods are worshipped in the 'god woods'. These god woods were created by the children of the forest. Supposedly, they are good.

However, bran, was lead to them by what we believe was a zombie of his uncle. It seems like they've trapped another warg (bran is also a warg. people who are wargs can shapeshift)

They have befriended him, and, by the looks of it, they are feeding him blood, which seems pretty ominous.
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:iconmondu:
mondu Featured By Owner Dec 10, 2012
Starship Troopers. Ultra-ultra right, ultra-militaristic, communism is da fucken evill.
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:iconskulkey:
skulkey Featured By Owner Dec 10, 2012  Professional Digital Artist
*fascism
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:iconskulkey:
skulkey Featured By Owner Dec 10, 2012  Professional Digital Artist
Frank Herbert's work in general is very political, but the Dune series gives you the most in-depth look at politics and religion.
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:iconsaintartaud:
saintartaud Featured By Owner Dec 20, 2012  Professional General Artist
Ditto the analogy for oil.  Really any kind of highly desired natural resource you want to insert, but the desert setting and use of Arabic derivations most strongly evoke oil.  I'm not fond of Herbert's prose, and there were a few other details that drove me nuts, but his political and religious insight and ability to connect everything together kinda blew me away.
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:iconskulkey:
skulkey Featured By Owner Dec 21, 2012  Professional Digital Artist
a lot of people get turned off by his prose, but i sort of like it (then again i've read the whole series about 20 times). it's definitely worth treading through for all those gems of wisdom, imho.
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:iconsaintartaud:
saintartaud Featured By Owner Dec 21, 2012  Professional General Artist
His scope and vision IMO superseded his abilities as a stylist. I tried reading the second book earlier this year, but I could tell it was going to be even more of a slog. I will get to eventually. My boyfriend says the series goes continually downhill after the first book. He read most of the books too in his teens.
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:iconskulkey:
skulkey Featured By Owner Dec 21, 2012  Professional Digital Artist
i think he teaches important lessons throughout the series. the one i had the most trouble with is God Emperor, but that's because Leto really is a tyrant (and it's long as hell). but even Leto has lessons to teach. the last two deal with the Bene Gesserit heavily, and are easily my favorites. i think first book gets the most attention because it has the most action. perhaps that's why he doesn't like the rest of the series. :shrug:
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:iconsaintartaud:
saintartaud Featured By Owner Dec 21, 2012  Professional General Artist
Knowing my boyfriend, that is probably not the case. He has more patience than most readers.
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:icontehbigd:
tehbigd Featured By Owner Dec 10, 2012
I've always enjoyed Dune. The Spice is a good analogy for oil, and all its political and technical ramifications. The religious aspects of the work seemed to over-ride the political, most times, but is was very well thought out on all accounts.
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:iconnovuso:
Novuso Featured By Owner Dec 10, 2012
I always thought 'spice' was a reference to DMT or some other type of hallucinogenic that gave the user a 6th sense. The spice came from the giant sand worms of Arakis and was used by the navigators to see into other dimensions when guiding space ships through hyperspace. When the human colonists on Arakis started consuming the spice they were transformed into a super race of humans with glowing eyes. Other than the emperor decreeing that "the spice must flow" it doesn't sound anything like oil.
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:icontehbigd:
tehbigd Featured By Owner Dec 10, 2012
All travel depended on it, and it was located in a desert and it was controlled by religious zealots.
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:iconskulkey:
skulkey Featured By Owner Dec 10, 2012  Professional Digital Artist
i think the religious aspect takes a back seat in the last two novels (that he wrote; not the ones his son wrote). those are more about the Bene Gesserit (which i see as a functioning anarchist society).

Stephenson's The Diamond Age also has some interesting political/social elements.

Gibson's work is just astounding all around.

i notice we're mainly talking about science fiction here, so far.
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:icontehbigd:
tehbigd Featured By Owner Dec 10, 2012
Funny how that works, huh? I think it has mostly to do with the fact that science fiction is inherently utopian, which tends to make it political.

Oh! If you enjoyed Gibson, I really do recommend Stephenson's Snowcrash. Similar setting, but easier to read (I dunno about you, but I thought Gibson read like a sane Phillip K. Dick), and just as prescient about future technology.
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:iconskulkey:
skulkey Featured By Owner Dec 10, 2012  Professional Digital Artist
i've read Snow Crash some time ago. need to read it again.
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:icontehbigd:
tehbigd Featured By Owner Dec 10, 2012
Good. It seems like everyone I talk to has never heard of it, it was beginning to annoy me. Have you read All the President's Men? That was a really good book for understanding politics, describing the compromises one makes to go anywhere.
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:icontacosteev:
tacosteev Featured By Owner Dec 11, 2012  Hobbyist
I don't know anyone either that's read snow crash. I even have difficulties describing it:

"A samurai pizza delivery boy saves the future internet from an ancient Sumerian virus."

That's the best I can do :lol:
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:iconskulkey:
skulkey Featured By Owner Dec 11, 2012  Professional Digital Artist
haven't read that one. is it an entertaining read?
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:icontehbigd:
tehbigd Featured By Owner Dec 11, 2012
Yes, indeed it is. It follows the political career of a senator, from local on up.
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:iconenuocale:
EnuoCale Featured By Owner Dec 10, 2012  Hobbyist Writer
Brave new world embodies American "liberalism."

lel.
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:icontehbigd:
tehbigd Featured By Owner Dec 10, 2012
I wouldn't say so. Brave New World focused on creating a caste system, which is something liberalism doesn't tend to agree with. Apart from that, it sought to use not government power, but corporate power to serveille the people and ensure that the subservience of its people. It's often thought to be the other side of the coin for 1984, in that it's a society that uses "soft power" to create an oppressive government.
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