3 Speculative Fiction Books to Read After the Election
We lose no matter what, might as well read
I know I’m being a buzz kill, as many are excited that a potential Biden win is going to bring us back to an era of normalcy.
And hey, you’re not wrong. The 77-year-old former senator who presided over the Clarence Thomas Supreme Court nomination hearings where he grilled Anita Hill about her sexual assault allegations, who’s standing accused of raping former staffer Tara Reade might restore the fabric of American life we all used to hold dear.
When he was Obama’s VP he was a lovable gaffe machine who spearheaded the…um… Yeah, I don’t really know what he did in his time in office other than pose for photo-ops with his boss.
But there is a D next to his name, so we’re all supposed to hoot and holler that he’s slightly closer to our side than the big bad orange man.
So as a supporter of progressive policies, I believe the election and this upcoming presidency were already stolen from the American people when Bernie and his not-radical-at-all ideology of Medicare for All and free college tuition were railroaded to install someone with a fraction of an enthusiastic base.
Yet, while there’s no hope for a progressive candidate in the white house in the next four years, we can all drown our sorrows in NOT alcohol but in the imagined worlds of speculative fiction.
Whether your vibe is mermaids and mages or, like me, you’re into futuristic cities and time dilation, we can all escape the past four years, this hell of a year and the upcoming X-number of years with a good book—or a thousand.
Here are three places to start:
God is change.
Oh, just thinking about The Parable of the Sower and The Parable of the Talents takes me back to the expansive stretches of highway where the story found its heart.
The world of Lauren Ola Olamina is rife with fallout from climate change and nationwide poverty. As the daughter of a preacher, she uses the gift of gab to teach her known truths about the world in hopes of helping her found family discover mechanisms to survive whatever obstacle, setback or flaming projectile is thrown their way.
Check out the book’s description for a full synopsis but if you decide to dive into this alternative 2020 decade of disaster and turmoil, learn from Lauren’s way of studying past and present so you can survive your own future.
Some of them will decide that they also want to be beautiful and free, like you. Some will fight for this, if they must. Sometimes that’s all it takes to save a world, you see. A new vision. A new way of thinking, appearing at just the right time.
Again, I’m transported. This novelette is by one of the greatest contemporary speculative fiction writers, N.K. Jemison. The POV character is silent as their assigned to travel to Earth in search of resources for those who fled the dying planet years ago—all the while being narrated by his indoctrinated AI overlord.
The story is so simple in its language and message yet it’s incredibly cathartic. Yep the quote above is the only hint you’re getting. Trust me. It’s good stuff, all around.
The individuals are tragically like marionettes, independently animate but bound by a web they choose not to see; they could resist if they wished, but so few of them do.
And another one.
The quote above is from a story called Understand in this collection by Ted Chiang.
I find this quote to be a perfect way to describe our world. If you live in the U.S. and most of the “developed countries” you’re presented with capitalism as the default. This way of thinking depends on individualism. Yet, humans are social beings and depend on each other for much of our vitality. Our connection is a life source that we shouldn’t deny.
The title story was made into a film called Arrival, if you needed that social proof to buy-in. Yet, as always the book delves into more detail and offers nuances and scientific prowess that only the written word can provide. Stories of Your Life is a thought experiment about free will and choice. I suggest you read it and contemplate if we have either.
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