Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Polarized visions

Through Matthew Cheney, I caught sight of this feature today. It's an ad from 1968 with various science fiction authors of the day declaring their position on the Vietnam War.

A lot of the names are unfamiliar to me. This includes much of the "pro" side. R. A. Lafferty is an exception, as he's one of my favorite all-time writers. Despite being progressive on race--especially for an Oklahoman who turned 50 around the time the Civil Rights era started in earnest--he was pretty conservative overall, so I'm not really surprised.

There are fiction authors now who specifically appeal to right-leaning audiences, and who often seem to be popular for their politics as much as anything else. The field of science fiction definitely has some. From the excerpts I've seen Dan Simmons' latest is basically a hundred Glenn Beck rants poured into a Strange Days novelization. So could some of the names I don't know belong to sixties equivalents? Or is this more of a contemporary phemomenon?

There are some notable omissions. Theodore Sturgeon and Roger Zelazny are nowhere to be found on either list. I can kind of guess their positions, but I have to wonder. Did no one ask? Or did they make themselves scarce?


susan said...

There were a few I'd forgotten among many whose work I'd never encountered. Overall I recognized 8 writers in the pro-war side and sixteen in the other but they missed Kurt Vonnegut too. Nobody ever asked him anything but we do know his answer.

Ben said...

Oh yes, Vonnegut. He's probably absent because by that time he'd decided he didn't want to be labelled as a science fiction writer. Of course what do labels mean, anyway? But yeah, when he talked about war no one could accuse him of not knowing what he was talking about.