Preface

Socialism and Democracy has long embodied a paradox endemic to the US Left. We are a journal strongly committed to helping build a vast popular movement, yet there is a painful barrier between our analyses and many of the people for whom these analyses, if appropriately developed, could have some relevance. In other words, despite the manifest bankruptcy of the capitalist order (expressed in war, global poverty, and environmental degradation), only a relatively minuscule portion of the population is systematically discussing alternatives to it.

Science fiction is one of the few domains in which reflection on such possibilities seems to extend outside our narrow circles. The time for us to pay attention to this genre is therefore long overdue.

This project owes its origins to the initiative of S&D board-member Yusuf Nuruddin, who recognized both the general importance of the topic and also the need for radicals to be aware of the popular culture that has conditioned science fiction’s appeal. In addition, he played a vital role in giving this volume its multicultural contours. Because our initial team, however, lacked anyone conversant in the larger field of Science Fiction Studies, we were most fortunate to engage the collaboration, as co-editor for this project, of science fiction scholar Alcena Madeline Davis Rogan.

Thanks for calling our attention to Rogan’s achievements in this field and her potential for contributing to this issue go to Darko Suvin, a leading SF critic and also a valued contributor to our pages (see his translation of and commentary on Brecht’s “Manifesto” in S&D no. 31 [2002]). Victor Wallis, S&D ‘s managing editor, in turn wishes to call attention to the intellectual project which provided the setting for his conversations with Suvin – the multi-volume Historisch-Kritisches W├Ârterbuch des Marxismus (Historical-Critical Dictionary of Marxism) – and to express his gratitude to Wolfgang Fritz Haug and Frigga Haug, who have been at the core of that project since its inception in the mid-1980s.

Finally, all three of us want to thank the contributors to this volume for their faith in our project, for the quality of their work, and for their willingness to accommodate our sometimes far-reaching requests for revision.

A MARTIAL EPIGRAM ON MARTIANS
Qui Legis Oedipoden Caligantemque Thyesten

Martial X.4

Why are you staring so raptly into Orcs and Elves
Why gulping down Conan, Potter & th’insufferable Lewis
What are to you rebelling robots, or what help
To your wasting lives the circenses of media clerics
Brainwashing the new imperial plebeians?
Imbibe
What life shall recognize & call out “This is mine!”
Even if Aliens or dragons, such story shall taste of us humans,
The ways we oppress & love each other, in what cave
Are we ourselves & how may we get out into the light
Of the blue Sun?
But no, Mr. Jones, you don’t want to See yourself, cognize your killing cruelties: so at least Read your Tolkien!
You may shut the book & think
Why he loved cleansing wars.

— Darko R. Suvin

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