Politics in science fiction


Themes based on politics have been used to create science fiction stories that explore, explain and elucidate upon the social structure of the present or the one that could be in the future through extrapolation. In speculative or science fiction, extrapolation is a concept used by writers to present a hypothesis, an educated guess, and a prediction to imagine future events or possible situations that may occur.
In the Time Machine (1895) a novel written by H.G Wells, the protagonist uses the time machine to travel ahead in time to explore the societies. He reaches the year 802,701 when the Eloi are dependent for food and clothing on the Morlocks, who prey on them. Wells used the concept of how unchecked capitalism can ruin society and bridge the divide between classes. The 1966 science fiction novel, Make Room! Make Room! by Harry Harrison is set in 1999 when the world population is growing at an alarming rate while the resources are not sufficient for all.
Brave New World (1932) by Aldous Huxley is set in the futuristic World State where the residents are environmentally engineered. Huxley created a dystopian world where psychological manipulation and reproductive technology are used. The government takes out emotions from its people from an early age and there is no concept of individuality. Moreover, genetic engineering takes away free will while keeping people happy at all times. They are also kept entertained continuously through distractions.
Star Trek – the popular US series based on the journey of the crew on board the USS Enterprise, used various concepts of international relations and politics. The crew of the ship had people from various nationalities – African-American, Japanese, etc. This showed that the world was united in its quest to discover new civilizations in space.
It promoted liberal values that the US focused on during the 1960s when connecting with its allies in Europe, Asia, and the Far East. “The crew are guided by liberal notions, but operate in a sector of the galaxy divided into two empires and the federation, with neutral zones and fragile peace agreements,” wrote Joel R. Campbell in “Star Trek and Battlestar Galactica: Understanding Politics and International Relations.”
He further adds, “The Klingons are stand-ins for the Soviets, while the Romulans look a bit like the Chinese, who had no diplomatic contacts with America until 1971 (their relatives, the logical Vulcans, are part of the Federation, just as the Japanese have an alliance with America).”
Science fiction stories that share political ideas are a mirror that expresses the social themes that are in effect when the writer pens the story or serves as a lens into the future. George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949) is a dystopian story exploring the consequences of totalitarianism and mass surveillance.
Orwell’s characters and the story discuss the truth that prevails within politics, the facts that persist within the social and political structure, and how these two are manipulated by those who are in power.