Can sci-fi ever not be political?

When is a giant lizard not a giant lizard? When it’s a metaphor for the might of the military-industrial complex. Audiences turning up for the latest cinematic incarnation of Godzilla have expressed some disappointment that much of the battling kaiju action was kept off screen. In its place director Gareth Edwards makes the smart decision to tinker with the kaleidoscopic political meanings that surround the giant lizard.

What Edwards chooses to place front and centre are the twin legacies the second world war foisted on modern society – nuclear weapons and the United States military in all its glory. By the end of the movie we’re left in no doubt that, whatever risks they pose, we need the monstrous forces mankind can control to defend us from the monstrous forces – be they real or imagined – we cannot. Audiences want sci-fi to entertain us, but even blockbuster movies come loaded with political messages.

In recent months the community of science fiction readers and writers has been embroiled in an escalating war of words over the genre’s political soul, catalysed by the nominations for this year’s Hugo awards. Allegations of bloc-voting arose as a slate of little-known writers appeared among the nominees, after a concerted campaign by a small group of writers to get the books on the ballot.

Read more @ Guardian books.

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