Recommendations for political space opera?

Discussion in 'Science Fiction' started by Asimovking, Oct 2, 2011.

  1. Asimovking

    Asimovking "Dime Store Rock"

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    Can you recommend any space opera books that make (preferably extensive use) of politics? Such as communism/socialism/liberalism/conservativism/etc?

    I'd like to see how author's envision politics playing out in space :D
     
  2. psikeyhackr

    psikeyhackr Live Long & Suffer

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    There is the obvious The Moon is a Harsh Mistress by Heinlein
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Moon_Is_a_Harsh_Mistress

    That could be relevant as an example of the effects of resource depletion in the coming century.

    and there is

    Voyage from Yesteryear by James P. Hogan
    http://www.jandysbooks.com/sfbooks/vygystr.html

    This could be relevant as an example of the long term effects of cheap computers everywhere.

    Both of those stories mention the Earth's population being a problem. Various sources say the 7 billionth person will be born in the next few months.

    psik
     
    Last edited: Oct 2, 2011
  3. s271

    s271 Repudiated Ursus

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    Iain M Banks Culture series
    Some books of Alastair Reynolds also qualify
    Ken MacLeod, series Fall Revolution (mostly planetary) and Engines of Light (mostly planetary)
    Richard Morgan series about Takeshi Kovacs, most of politics/off world is in the 3rd book.
     
    Last edited: Oct 3, 2011
  4. Asimovking

    Asimovking "Dime Store Rock"

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    Thanks :) I'll check em out.
     
  5. Hitmouse

    Hitmouse Registered User

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    The Dispossessed Ursula le Guin. Anarchism cf Capitalism
    Most of the Culture books by Iain M. Banks. Enlightened libertarianism vs a variety of more brittle political systems.
     
  6. Joshua A.C. New

    Joshua A.C. New Joshua A.C. Newman

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    Hitmouse, I just got here but I'm already impressed with your taste. I particularly suggest Banks' Player of Games as a discussion of a particular sociopolitical order. And I can't recommend The Dispossessed enough.

    Deepness in the Sky, which I just mentioned elsethread as being about economics, is therefore also about politics.
     
  7. Lazerus

    Lazerus Way Too Human

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    If I remember correctly, there was plenty of political manipulation in Stephen R. Donaldosn's Gap series.

    That was probably the first set of books I ever read that didn't have a real "hero" or "good guy", no true protagonist you could cheer for (and feel good about).
     
  8. psikeyhackr

    psikeyhackr Live Long & Suffer

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    Actually I don't like the term space opera. I usually regard it as silly or bad but

    Ensign Flandry by Poul Anderson may be applicable here. It is kind of a politics/war mix.

    Politics with aliens mostly.

    Actually the first two books of the Vorkosigan series are quite political. Very dirty politics.

    http://baencd.thefifthimperium.com/24-CryoburnCD/CryoburnCD/index.htm

    psik
     
    Last edited: Oct 5, 2011
  9. ebusinesstutor

    ebusinesstutor Star Gawker

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    I second the Voyage from Yesteryear recommendation. You might also want to check out
    • Ben Bova's "Grand Tour" series
    • Elizabeth Moon's Serrano/Suiza series and Vatta's War series
    • Kristine Kathryn Rusch's "Retrieval Artist" series.
     
  10. Joshua A.C. New

    Joshua A.C. New Joshua A.C. Newman

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    You people are not helping me complete my reading pile one bit.

    Oh! Cyteen, by C.J. Cherryh. It's a weird kind of politics, but it's politics.
     
  11. Asimovking

    Asimovking "Dime Store Rock"

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    LOL. Everytime I get mine down to a manageable size I wind up buying 8 or 10 more :p
     
  12. psikeyhackr

    psikeyhackr Live Long & Suffer

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    I tried 3 books by Iain Banks but only managed to finish one Player of Games. I forced myself through 2/3rds of Consider Phlebas and started Use of Waepons. I think the Culture is shallow and contrived. I was a chess addict in high school so that made Player of Games sufficiently interesting to me but I don't really recommend it.

    The politics of the last half of Shards of Honor and Barrayar by Bujold are way better. The first half of Shards of Honor was almost as bad as the start of Use of Weapons.

    psik
     
  13. Jop

    Jop The Wandering Eye

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    I'm not sure, but would The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi qualify? It features a post-apocalyptic type Earth where the Agricultural Industry calls the shots as they control the food supply...
     
  14. Joshua A.C. New

    Joshua A.C. New Joshua A.C. Newman

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    Player of Games is certainly the best of his that I've read. But the book's about culture and privilege and how societies maintain their benefit to those they have benefitted in the past. The first act on an orbital is the only in-Culture stuff I've read; most of it takes place where The Culture encounters someone else.

    Consider Phlebas doesn't address the Culture at all, really. There's one character from it, and the sociopolitical and philosophical aspects don't really come into play —*it's a fun space adventure, but not really heady SF. Use of Weapons was a much better, more thoughtful, more complete exploration of The Culture and where their stated ethics run afoul of just how easy it is to defy them for their own convenience.

    Absolutely. In the parallel thread about economics, I posted about it but didn't want to make these threads clones of each other. It's about really unpleasant corporatocratic politics when they collide with an insular, monarchist body. My favorite thing about the book was that Paolo gets you to root for most of the characters when you're following them around; they've all got a point, or at least are sympathetic people. The hard part of the book is that, when you're seeing that character through any other character's eyes, they're somewhere between monstrous and pathetic.
     
  15. Sfinx

    Sfinx Life's a riddle

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    Ah, Banks....I really enjoyed some of his work (Matter was really good, Player of Games was interesting, as was Consider Phlebas) but Against a Dark Background was disappointing and Use of Weapons...that was just plain boring. Still, an interesting writer.

    I'd second Morgan, Heinlein and LeGuin, and considering the OP's handle I assume you've read the Foundation series? Not to everyone's taste (I am not a fan for instance) but certainly a good fit with your criteria. Null-A by Van Vogt could also be an option - political system in casu "non-Aristotelian logic".

    Cheers,

    Sfinx.
     
  16. Joshua A.C. New

    Joshua A.C. New Joshua A.C. Newman

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    See, this is interesting. I thought Matter was kind of boring and Consider Phlebas to have a couple of neat ideas but ultimately sort of a corn chip book.

    I felt like Null-A wasn't so much a political philosophy as it as a superpower. Like, while Dune is obviously about politics, it would be much less so if it was about Prana-Bindu. The Spice, Prana-Bindu, and so forth are setting material that orbit analogues for real-world phenomena like the Turkish empire, oil monopoly, and religious fanaticism. I consider The World of Null-A to be a more psychedelic experiment, where the political considerations are loosely sketched in, and it orbits the world in which the Null-A philosophy gives people superpowers.

    Foundation is neat because every story discusses a different sociopolitical order. It's one of the big influences on Shock:Human Contact for that reason.

    Heinlein's a good call. While I first thought of Stranger in a Strange Land (not at all space opera, Asimovking), Starship Troopers is an exploration of what a warrior society might look like, how it benefits, and what it costs its members.
     
  17. poser765

    poser765 Registered User

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    Ben Bova for sure. Also the David Weber's Honor Harrington Series. The first few books are mainly military sci fi, but towards the middle the books become a LOT more political.
     
  18. symbolhunter

    symbolhunter Science-Fantasy Zealot

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    Heinlein's Citizen of the Galaxy is a fairly enjoyable exploration of different political systems with a Space Opera dimension.
     
  19. psikeyhackr

    psikeyhackr Live Long & Suffer

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    Of Bujold's Vorkosigan series the books

    Shards of Honor
    Barrayar
    Komarr


    Have politics to a significant degree. It comes in a little in other books of the series.

    psik
     
  20. DDCOrange

    DDCOrange Registered User

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    On a pure whim I picked up Kris Longknife: Mutineer by Mike Shepherd and I'm almost finished with that first book in the Longknife series. I was a bit surprised to find it quite enjoyable and will probably read the next one if I can find it! Anyway the title character is the Prime Minister's daughter in a very political family so she joins the space navy as an escape but her illustrious name insures that politics follow her everywhere she goes. The politics in this story reminds me of Cherryh's Earth-Union series but the story reads a lot like an Elizabeth Moon space opera. Well written for the most part with some very good characters. Interesting because I've never heard of Shepherd before the this series now runs to several books.