The Politics of UK Science Fiction Writers

In this week of the UK general election, several science fiction writers have declared their voting intentions for their prefered political party. English SF writer Neal Asher recently said “I judge books, not a writer’s politics. There’s a lot of books out there by some real hard lefty types, and a lot of those books I really love.” I agree that it’s the book not the writer’s beliefs that matter, but since these are writers whose job it is it speculate on the future (and they’re also guys I admire and respect) I thought I’d post a summary of what political leanings British SF writers have admitted to.
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Charlie Stross

  • Voting For: Liberal Democrats

I’ve read most of Stross’ books: his sci-fi, his techno-horror and thrillers, and a few of his fantasy books too. Charlie Stross lives just down the road from me here in Edinburgh so we have the same MP. I’ve met Charlie a few times around town and sat and listened to him down the pub while plying him with ale. A vocal opponent of much of the Digital Economy Act (he was even quoted in parliament during that bill’s final readings), Stross came out this weekend for the Liberal Democrats:

A strong Liberal Democrat showing will prevent either Labour or Conservatives from forming a strong majority government and implementing an ideologically driven program without regard for public opinion. I’d like to see electoral reform. I’d like to see a rollback of the database state, and more respect for civil liberties. I’d like to see less centralization of state power. A Labour or Conservative government in which the Liberal Democrats are a coalition partner is likely to have to act on some of these issues in order to buy their support.

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Michael Cobley

  • Voting For: Liberal Democrats

Michael Cobley has recently released the second in his excellent Humanity’s Fire trilogy. It’s wide-screen space opera of the finest kind: I’m currently half-way through the second part and loving every page. Mike recently posted his voting intentions on his blog:

I will be voting Liberal Democrat on May 6th: there are some areas of the LD manifesto I wish were tougher or more progressive, but at least with them there is a chance that we can put right some of the grotesque flaws of the last 30 years. With Labour or the Tories there is NO chance.

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Neal Asher

  • Voting For: Conservatives (probably)

I have a whole shelf-full of Neal Asher books and have read every one of them. His action-oriented space operas are full of fantastic ideas, interesting characters and exciting events. Neal’s blog is mostly about his books and sci-fi, but he sometimes talks about his political views:

Some while ago an American SF writer was in contact with me. With a degree of disbelief he said, “You’ve actually admitted to being Conservative … and you write science fiction?” Actually, I disagree. Since you’d have difficulty slotting a fag paper between the British Conservative and Labour parties, and since they are equally undemocratic and authoritarian, I style myself Libertarian i.e. I’m for small government, less interference and hey, let’s stop the growth of the thought-police right now.

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Ian Mcdonald

  • Voting For: Liberal Democrats (probably)

I’ve only read one of Ian Mcdonald’s books (Brazyl) and while it took me a while to get into it I ended up really liking it: I plan to read more from him soon. Ian hasn’t come out directly, but he recently posted a piece entitled “Liberals to the right of me, liberals to the left of me” where he notes that most of his blog “friends” have Liberal Democrat views.

Well, Nick Clegg should stroll it, in Planet Fandom…

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Jon Courtenay Grimwood

  • Voting For: Liberal Democrats (probably)

I read Grimwood’s Stamping Butterflies last summer and really enjoyed it. Jon is quite active on Twitter and although I’ve not seen him absolutely declare his voting intentions, he has tweeted such gems as:

methinks Mr Milliband need a serious whack with a clue-by-four

“‘You’ve punished enough about Iraq.’ (D Milliband) You have no idea, do you? This is our best chance to put presidential politics to bed…

I keep expecting Cameron’s head to unzip and the alien to come out…

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China Miéville

  • Voting For: Socialist Alliance (probably)

China Mieville has recently won his third award in a row for the excellent fantasy-detective novel The City And The City. I’ve read all his books to date except his young-adult novel Un Lun Dun and the just-released Kraken. China’s voting intentions have not been made public, but he is a member of the British Socialist Workers Party and stood for the House of Commons in the 2001 General Election as a candidate for the Socialist Alliance.

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Ken MacLeod

  • Voting For: Labour

Ken is a well-known socialist who’s probably the most politicised of all the SF writers listed here. He posted about his switch from reading the (ostensibly politically neutral) Independent to the Guardian, which recently came out for the Liberal Democrats. But Ken has now come out for Labour as a strategy:

“I have lots of reasons to detest New Labour (and Old Labour, come to that) but Labour is still the only party that the British working class has come up with, so there you go.

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