The Personal is Political is Speculative

By Claire G. Coleman
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Cyclopedia of Worlds

The slow waltz; of mechanical tripod fighting machines – from barren lifeless Mars

The bass drum footsteps; of a; creature; flesh robot; stitched, sown; together

The shrill scream of anyone who has read Atlas Shrugged. That hyper-capitalist call for oligarchy.

That’s the reason I have never read Ayn Rand; the entitled, victimised whine her privileged fans emit – Also, have you even see that book? Merciful crap it’s thick, who has the time for that

 

Speculative fiction has always been political;

but not always a force for human rights.

 

That bass-drum footsteps movie fella, slow-walkin’, slower talkin’, slow thinkin’ he was not that fella in the book; in the book he was a philosopher; he could have been a dancer. It was not in creating him that Victor sinned, it was in rejecting the love of his creation; it was in creating a man but not allowing that man to have love.

 

Frankenstein might have been the first science-horror novel.

 

They thought that too complex a motive for film so they made;

Philosopher creation monster and monstrous creator innocent.

 

The political is personal; and the personal-political; speculation is embedded in our stories.

 

Those waltz-dancing tripod fighting machines, destroyed their own planet, came here to find more; drained our blood and injected it in themselves – only a matter of time those colonisers would run out of blood to drain, they would be forced to farm humans.  Old H. G. Wells he had Tasmania in mind, that almost-genocide (always was always will be still here) when he wrote about that.

 

Without War of the Worlds (1897) invasion speculation, that had long exited;

Might have remained obscure.

Without the Tasmanian near genocide we might never have had War of the worlds.

Before War of the Worlds invasion speculative fiction did not involve Aliens.

It was brown-skinned people the white people feared.

 

What planet will we go to when we have rendered ours lifeless (there are themes in great books even the writers did not know of)?  The novel, War of the Worlds speaks of the massacre of mankind; I have never known if the tripods made it past Britain. I am sure the British could have run away to the colonies and continued enslaving people there.

 

In 48 and 49 it was room 101, it was torture, it was the apparatus of fascism that would have scared readers – post ’84 we have started to realise it was new-speak, it was fake news, it was weasel words and mind control through language we should have feared; that we are learning to fear.  Speculative fiction has been prophetic, no prophecy is more terrifying than the Ministry of Truth; the Ministry of Peace; The Ministry of Love.

 

1984 leads us to the words, “make Orwell fiction again”.

 

You cannot extract the political from speculative fiction; it’s written in the bones; in the personal, in our stories. Speculative fiction has been political since before it existed.

 

And.

 

In War of the Worlds, Britain is sacked, colonised, destroyed, as if they were not the world’s greatest perpetrators of colonisation. It was the British who brought this fear of theirs, the fear of invasion, to Australia; bringing it to this ancient place with beer, colonisation and meat-pies. We have our own nineteenth century “invasion literature” now thankfully mostly forgotten; though the fears they invoke are perhaps not.

 

It was in Invasion Literature novels of the late 18th early 19th century (such as The Yellow Wave by James Alexander Kenneth Mackay from 1895) that Australia was taught to fear invasion from Asia. We have feared invasion for a hundred and twenty years (or longer) despite having no evidence of intent from those we fear; the British invaders, colonisers, settlers here have long feared being invaded, colonised, settled.

 

Would we have feared the “Yellow Wave” for as long without the stories we have already forgotten? There’s no way to know.

 

And then; robots, we fear them taking over, rebelling, being free; the word robot came first from speculative fiction – arose from a slavic word meaning “slave”. In the first use of the word ‘robot’; they, a slave rebellion, killed all of humanity; the first literary mention of robots was a story of a robot rebellion we brought on ourselves (R.U.R, Karel Čapek 1920).

 

We feared a robot rebellion as shown to us in R.U.R. before we had the word robot; we feared a slave revolt. Well not me, I feared for the robots. The robots in R.U.R. were stitched-together from flesh-like stuff; they have more in common with Frankenstein’s Creature, that heavy footed one, than C3PO from Star Wars. In R.U.R. the conclusion was, if out slaves destroy us we earned it.

 

The speculative has always been personal has been political has been personal has been speculative.

In robot-rebellion stories I must, I near always do, side with the robots. I side with Frankenstein’s creature. Do people side with the tripods? I’m sad when they all die in the end.

 

Speculative fiction has almost always been political; but has not always been a force for good.

 

We are responsible.

 

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