Posts Tagged ‘T.C. Weber’


Over half of our e-books will be on sale starting today, and will be available at all of the usual e-book vendors (Kobo, Apple, Amazon, etc.). Most are priced at $.99, and none of the sale titles are above $2.99. Here are the temporarily reduced e-books:

Science Fiction

  • Sleep State Interrupt, by T.C. Weber
  • The Wrath of Leviathan, by T.C. Weber
  • Free Radicals: A Novel of Utopia and Dystopia, by Zeke Teflon
  • The Watcher, by Nicholas T. Oakley

Classic Fiction

  • The Jungle: The Uncensored Original Edition, by Upton Sinclair

Anarchism/Politics

  • Venezuela: Revolution as Spectacle, by Rafael Uzcátegui
  • Venezuelan Anarchism: The History of a Movement, by Rodolfo Montes de Oca
  • The Heretic’s Handbook of Quotations, Chaz Bufe, ed.
  • The Best of Social Anarchism, Howard Ehrlich and a.h.s. boy, eds.

Science

  • Corrupted Science: Fraud, Ideology, and Politics in Science, by John Grant

Humor

  • The American Heretic’s Dictionary, by Chaz Bufe
  • Bible Tales for Ages 18 and Up, by G. Richard Bozarth

Atheism

  • Disbelief 101: A Young Person’s Guide to Atheism, by S.C. Hitchcock
  • Spiritual Snake Oil: Fads & Fallacies in Pop Culture, by Chris Edwards

Performing Arts

  • Stage Fright: 40 Stars Tell You How They Beat America’s #1 Fear, by Mick Berry and Michael Edelstein
  • An Understandable Guide to Music Theory: The Most Useful Aspects of Theory for Rock, Jazz, and Blues Musicians

The good news is that we’re not out of biz. And if we (See Sharp Press) can survive this, we can survive anything (barely).

We have a couple of really good new books coming up within the next few months (release date depending on the pandemic), Chris Mato Nunpa’s Great Evil, about Christianity the holocaust of Indigenous peoples and the ecosphere, and the Bible; and the conclusion of T.C. Weber’s Sleep State Interrupt anarcho-thriller trilogy, Zero Day Rising.

Beyond that, since I have little else to do in self-quarantine other than tend to my pets/owners — at times an inverted relationship — play music, write music, and work in the garden, I’m pretty safe. According to the CDC, Arizona is one of the states that has widespread community transmission of the coronavirus, so I rarely go out. When I do, I bump doors with my shoulder, and punch screens with a plastic bag between my hand and the screen. I still want my IPA, but hey, I’ll live (or not) if I don’t get it.

As for books and blog posts, Dakota elder Chris Mato Nunpa’s The Great Evil will be out in June; and I’m making huge strides with 24 Reasons to Abandon Christianity — about 30,000 words in at present.

Also, I’m well on my way to recording two music CDs. Between mine, my good bro’s Michael Turner’s, and the ones I wrote with my friends/ex-bandmates Brian Hullfish and Michael Zubay, we have two full CDs+ of original material. We’ll probably use the name Blues Evangelists (spreadin’ the good news of the blues.)

Other than that, I’ll be finishing off the graphic arts work for Al Perry’s new all-instrumental CD., for which Winston Smith did the cover graphic, after a water color by Al. I’m doing everything beyond that, and Al did me the honor of asking me if I’d play second guitar when the CD release finally happens sometime this fall down at Club Congress. Of course I agreed. (Here’s a link to one of Al’s funniest recent tunes, Jukebox Jihad.)

Enough for now. I’ll put up another post within a day or two with a lot of actually useful shit.

It’s going on dawn, and Red is rising. “Red” is the formerly skeletal, now plump, Rhode Island Rhode Red rooster who showed up here last June, and rooted around in my garden for a week or two, until I started feeling sorry for him and started feeding him. The neighbors did, too. He became the neighborhood pet. Dumb as a box of rocks, but still pretty and lively. They’re talking about buying some hens and putting up a hen house in their backyard.

I hope they do it soon.

 

 

 


We hit 100,000 views a few days ago, and to celebrate (if that’s the right word) we’re listing the best posts we’ve published over the years, divided by category. Here’s the second installment. The third will be the first of the Humor installments, and it’ll focus purely on jokes.

Civil Liberties

Economics

Gardening

Interviews

Journalism

 

 

 


“When I sit down to write a book, I do not say to myself, ‘I am going to produce a work of art.’ I write it because there is some lie that I want to expose, some fact to which I want to draw attention, and my initial concern is to get a hearing.”

— George Orwell, Why I Write

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(Thanks to T.C. Weber for this one, who’s doing the same damn thing.)

 


Wrath of Leviathan front coverOur new release, The Wrath of Leviathan, by T.C. Weber, is now available. It’s book 2 of the cyberpunk BetterWorld trilogy, and is available as a physical book and also as ePub, Mobi, and PDF e-books. Set against a background of an even more repressive security-state USA, with monopolization of the media by a manipulative megacorporation, MediaCorp (think Fox and Facebook combined and on steroids), The Wrath of Leviathan continues the tale of a group of hackers and activists who’ve resorted to illegality to break the stranglehold of the government and MediaCorp on the communications and political systems, and who are being hounded mercilessly and murderously as a result.

The first book of the trilogy, Sleep State Interrupt, was a nominee for the 2017 Compton Crook Award for Best First Science Fiction Novel.

If you’re a reviewer or blogger, review e-copies of both Sleep State Interrupt and Wrath of Leviathan are now available via NetGalley.

The final book of the trilogy, Zero-Day Rising, is scheduled for publication in 2019.


Several of our authors have web sites. Here are the ones that immediately come to mind:

Over the next few days I’ll contact the other authors who seem like they might have either a site or blog, and will add any that come up. So, if you’re interested, please check back shortly and you’ll probably find additional author sites and blogs.

Note: Tim Boomer, who wrote The Bassist’s Bible, is also a computer pro who wrote the very nice looking Bassist’s Bible web site. He’s currently rewriting the See Sharp Press site, which badly needs the update. I wrote it in html 3 over 15 years ago, and it looks it. It’s not quite in Save Walter White territory, but not that far beyond it. The spiffy looking redesigned site will be up later this summer.

Finally, in non-book-related news, Mick Berry, co-author of The Drummer’s Bible, has a web site up for his one-man show, Keith Moon: The Real Me, which is playing in San Jose through June 24th.

 


Sleep State Interrupt, by T.C. Weber coverOur most recent science fiction novel, Sleep State Interrupt, by T.C. Weber, was just nominated for the 2017 Compton Crook Award for best first science fiction novel. Here are the announcements from Locus (the Publishers Weekly of science fiction)  and the Science Fiction Writers of America.

Sleep State Interrupt is one of only two small press titles nominated for the award. The others are from major sci-fi publishers: Tor, Del Rey, and Harper.

We’ve put up a lengthy excerpt from the book on our server. We hope you enjoy it.


broken_glass

(thanks to T.C. Weber, author of Sleep State Interrupt, for this one; for more on the topic of reader reviews, see “Why Your Reviews Matter“)


We just put up our 1,000th post —  this  is number 1,003 — a few days ago. We’re now looking through everything we’ve posted, and are putting up “best of” lists in our most popular categories.

This is the third of our first-1,000 “best of” lists. We’ve already posted the Science Fiction “best of” and the Addictions “best of” lists, and will shortly be putting up other “best ofs” in several other categories, including Anarchism, Atheism, Economics, Humor, Music, Politics, Religion, Science, and Skepticism.

Best Interviews


Sleep State Interrupt, by T.C. Weber cover

Our brand new sci-fi title, the cyberpunk thriller Sleep State Interrupt, by T.C. Weber, is back from the printer.  It’s also available as an e-book from all of the usual outlets.

The following interview should be of interest not only to sci-fi fans, but to writers of all genres, as T.C. has a lot to say about the craft of writing, generating plots, and creating believable characters.

If you’d like to check out Sleep State Interrupt, we’ve put up the first four chapters in pdf form,  and the author has put up a site for the book, which has a lot of additional information.

Q: What was the genesis of Sleep State Interrupt?

A: I’ve always been worried about the concentration of media and the decline of journalism, and the threats those trends pose to independent, critical thought and democracy. Then it was just a matter of inventing characters who would also be concerned about it and adding details of a near-future world. I lived in Baltimore and have been involved in music scenes and community organizing, so it was easy to include those as background elements. I have some experience with IT and video/news production. I consulted with experts to fill in the details, especially the tech-related ones.


Q: What advance preparation do you do prior to beginning a novel? Write mini-bios of the characters? Research the locale? Research any scientific matters essential to the book? Anything else?
A: All of the above. The basic story comes first. Then the plot and main characters. I create detailed character sheets, psychological profiles, and even put play lists together for the POV characters. The world also has to be developed. For Sleep State Interrupt, I didn’t need to research the locales since they’re in my backyard. But I did explore predicted technology for 2020-30 and interviewed experts. I’ve written other books, though, that required much more up-front world building. The Drift Horizon (which I’ve been editing off and on for quite a while) is set in a completely different version of Earth and I wrote a sort of Rough Guide/Lonely Planet for the country most of the action is set in.

Q: Are your characters based on people you’ve known, are they amalgams, or are they pure invention?

A: I invent my characters to fill roles in a story. They aren’t based on specific people, though of course real people and events inspire or influence them. I create profiles for my major characters, fleshing out their goals, personalities, backgrounds, appearances, etc. These may change while drafting the story, but usually not a whole lot. I try to make them interesting, since I’ll be spending a lot of time in their heads, I don’t want to be bored. Nor do I want readers to get bored.

Q: How do you generate your plots? Do you work the plot out first and then write? Start out with a general idea of where you want to go and then start writing? Or just sit down in front of a blank screen and start writing?

A: It’s a complicated process. I follow Randy Ingermanson’s Snowflake method (http://www.advancedfictionwriting.com/articles/snowflake-method/) and Larry Brooks’s Story Engineering (https://www.amazon.com/Story-Engineering-Larry-Brooks/dp/1582979987), more or less. The first step is to brainstorm story ideas and pick one worth writing about. I turn this into a “what if” question (like “What if nearly all information was controlled by a powerful elite? Could ordinary people overturn such a system?”) and a one-sentence novel summary (e.g., “An unemployed journalist and her friends try to stop a power-mad CEO from controlling the world.”) The next step is to expand that sentence to a full paragraph describing the story setup, major plot points, and ending of the novel. Then I develop the main characters and their goals, motivations, back story, etc. I weave the character arcs into the plot and write a short synopsis followed by a long synopsis. I convert this to a scene list in Scrivener, with a virtual index card for each scene (ideally with the scene arc outlined). Then finally I start writing, starting with the opening scene and filling out each scene in order. As I write, the story changes, sometimes quite a bit, but at least I have a roadmap to follow.


Q: You write both fiction and nonfiction. What would you say are the similarities and differences between writing nonfiction and writing fiction?

A: There are a lot of similarities. In both cases, you need to think creatively, organize your thoughts, be disciplined, and write clearly. Fiction is much more fun because you can write whatever you want and create your own worlds and people.

Q: How do you get inspired to write?

A: It’s more a question of habit than inspiration. You just have to sit down and get to work.


Q: What’s your writing routine? Do you write every day, and if so do you write at the same time every day? Do you set a goal, in terms of writing time or number of words?

A: I try to write something every morning before going to work, even if it’s just random thoughts or a few paragraphs. If it’s relevant to a current project, I pick it up again after dinner. When working on a novel, my goal is to write one scene each day, schedule permitting. Long scenes may take several days. My time goal is 10 hours/week of writing new material (not including editing or marketing chores). I don’t write nearly as fast as some of my colleagues who can churn out 5000+ words/day, but maybe someday.….


Q: Writing, by its very nature, is an isolating activity and, if you spend much time on it, probably has a negative impact on social life. Do you just live with that or do you do anything specific to deal with it?

A: That would be true if I wrote 12 hours/day, but it’s more like 1-2. It would be a lot easier to write first drafts sequestered in a remote mountain cabin (with bad weather so I didn’t spend all day hiking), but that’s not possible.


Q: When did you start reading science fiction, and what authors and books were you reading then?
A: I read a wide variety of fiction and non-fiction, and have from an early age. This question stumped me so I called my mom and asked. She couldn’t remember either and thought I was mostly interested in history as a child. After further brainstorming, we came up with Asimov, Heinlein, and Clarke. My mom also said I liked Star Trek, and I remember loving monster and kung-fu movies.


Q: Have your opinions of those changed over time? If so, how?
A: I still have a high regard for Asimov and Clarke. I can’t stomach Heinlein’s quasi-fascist diatribes. He also had libertarian leanings, though, which I’m more amenable to, as long as the power of the rich and corporations are held in check.


Q: Do you have any current favorite sci-fi subgenres? If so, what and why?
A: I don’t have a favorite genre of fiction even in the broader sense. I’m mostly interested in reading a story that has something to say, and says it well. It could fall under any genre. I admit to being impatient though; if a book starts to really meander or plod, I’ll lose patience and pick up something else.


Q: Who are some of your current favorite sci-fi writers, and why?
A: Based on her ideas, Ursula K. LeGuin. Based on his cleverness and characters, Kurt Vonnegut. Scope: Isaac Asimov. World building: Frank Herbert. I also like William Gibson and Neal Stephenson a lot. Neuromancer and Diamond Age are unforgettable . I could go on and on. I’d also like to mention Baltimore’s own Sarah Pinsker — her prose flows perfectly.


Q: Sleep State Interrupt has a satisfying conclusion, but it’s open ended. You’re now writing the sequel. How is that coming along?

A: I was making steady progress until halfway through, then had to focus on editing an unrelated book, and now am picking it up again. As of this writing, the characters’ obstacles appear insurmountable and I’m not sure how they’ll get to the ending. It’ll take a lot of brainstorming. Lesson: don’t stop in the middle of writing a first draft!

Q: How do you deal with writer’s block?

A: I only get “writer’s block” when my characters get in a situation that seems impossible to escape. Then I have the characters talk it through until they come up with a solution. Only a small part of the conversation may make it onto the page, but it’s just like real life — some problems require a lot of brainstorming and hypothesis testing.

Q: What are your other current writing projects, and would you briefly describe them?

A: I’m working on five projects at the moment. I’m writing a sequel to Sleep State Interrupt titled The Wrath of Leviathan, in which the protagonists are on the run and fighting a government and media backlash. I’m also writing a farce about local politics titled The Council, but it’s temporarily on hold until I finish Wrath of Leviathan (The challenging part is being more absurd than reality!) I am editing an alternate history novel titled Born in Salt, set fifty years after a fascist coup overthrew President Roosevelt. Ben Adamson, a 19-year-old Illinois farm boy, tries to free the woman he loves from the ruthless Internal Security Service without betraying his friends, and seeks to bring down the government in the process. I am rewriting another alternate history novel titled The Drift Horizon, in which humanity has been shaped since the dawn of agriculture by mysterious entities called the Guardians. These entities have since disappeared, and a catastrophic disaster has pitched the world into a war that may end civilization forever. Finally, I am working on a shared horror novel with three other writers, set in Baltimore in the 1920’s. Think Lovecraft meets Fitzgerald meets H. L. Mencken.

Q: What do you enjoy most about writing?

A: Writing is hard work and involves a lot of drudgery (particularly editing). But it’s rewarding to see characters and worlds come alive. My favorite moments are when a character veers from the outline and does something unexpected, especially if it’s something a lot smarter and more inventive than the outline called for. Unfortunately this doesn’t happen often, but when it does, I throw away the outline and go with it.

Q: What’s your advice for aspiring writers?

A: Make lists of ideas. Write something every day, even if it’s only a paragraph or short poem. Expand your best ideas into story synopses. Take the best synopses and write complete stories. Have fun.


Sleep State Interrupt, by T.C. Weber cover

We’ll be putting up sample chapters for most of our books — including all of our sci-fi titles — over the next month or two in downloadable pdf form.

Here’s the first sample: the first four chapters from our upcoming sci-fi/cyberpunk novel Sleep State Interrupt, by T.C. Weber. The book is at the printer, has a September 1 publication date, and will be available in print and e-book form shortly before then. It’s currently available for pre-order.


What exactly does  “anarchist science fiction” mean? Stories written by anarchists? Stories with anarchist characters? Stories with anarchist settings? Stories that make anarchist political and social points? Stories with an “anarchist sensibility” (whatever that is)? Stories that anarchists will simply enjoy? All of the above? Who knows…..

We coverBecause of this, I’ve taken a somewhat expansive approach and have included a number of non-anarchist political sci-fi novels in this list simply because I think anarchists would enjoy them. They comprise maybe a third of the total. I’ve added brief comments about books I’ve read recently and those that particularly stand out in memory. I’m still adding to the list, which is far from complete – it’s simply a list of books I’ve read and that I recommend. (I’ve included a couple that I don’t particularly like, but included anyway because they are specifically anarchist or part of a series;  in the comments preceding or following the titles, I’ve noted them.)

If you notice that any of your anarchist sci-fi favorites are missing from this list, please leave a comment mentioning them.

Here’s the list — the links go to reviews on this site.

Anarchy symbol

Margaret Atwood

  • The Handmaid’s Tale (1985). More speculative social fiction than science fiction,  The Handmaid’s Tale is Atwood’s horrifying vision of what would happen to America, and especially American women, if fundamentalists seized power. Antiauthoritarian, but not specifically anarchist.
  • Oryx and Crake (2003). The first book in the Maddaddam trilogy. An all too plausible, very well written look at the possible horrors of genetic engineering warped by profit-at-any-price corporate capitalism in a class-stratified, repressive sociopolitical system. It’s impressive in that it projects how current political, social, and technological trends in the U.S. and Canada (Atwood is Canadian) could develop and interact in coming decades; this is in sharp contrast to most sci-fi novels which will consider at most one such trend, and more often none.
  • The Year of the Flood (2009). The second book of the trilogy. Just as entertaining as Oryx and Crake, it deals with the same political, social, and technological issues, but also features an in-depth depiction of life inside a religious/ecological cult.
  • Maddaddam (2013). The final book in the trilogy. Just as engrossing as the previous two books, it adds a fair bit of material on the sleaziness and hypocrisy of fundamentalist religion, and much more on the extreme measures necessary to avoiding detection in a nearly all-seeing surveillance society.
  • The Testaments (2019). The Handmaid’s Tale sequel — haven’t read it yet.

Paolo BacigalupiWindup Girl cover

  • The Windup Girl (2009). Beautifully written. Probably the best cautionary tale about corporate-controlled genetic modification and control of food sources. Antiauthoritarian and anti-corporatist, but not specifically anarchist.

(Note: friends in the life sciences tell me that Bacigalupi is quite inaccurate in some biological specifics, that he’s every bit as inaccurate here as he is in portraying climate change in the Southwest in his otherwise very good The Water Knife (2015). Yes, these are cautionary tales, but gross inaccuracy is gross inaccuracy, and it tends to undercut the cautionary message. Still, these are both so well written and entertaining that I highly recommend them.)

Iain M. Banks

The following are Banks’ “Culture” novels–space opera on a grand scale. While set in the same universe, all work as stand-alone novels. All are set in a galaxy-spanning, far-future anarchist and atheist society, and all feature strong, believable characters (including AIs), complicated ethical dilemmas, and frequent dark humor. Of them, the two best are probably Player of Games and Surface Detail, and the weakest is probably The Hydrogen Sonata.

  • Consider Phlebas (1987)
  • The Player of Games (1988)
  • Use of Weapons (1990)
  • Excession (1996)
  • Inversions (1998)
  • Look to Windward (2000)
  • Matter (2008)Transition by Iain M. Banks
  • Surface Detail (2010)
  • The Hydrogen Sonata (2012)

Another of Banks’ sci-fi novels worth your time is

  • Transition (2009). It’s a parallel-worlds tale which deals with a wide range of social and political problems, ranging from the character deformation endemic to capitalism, to power-grubbing within hierarchies, to the question of whether the ends ever justify the means. The first half of the book is hard to follow, made up of disparate, apparently unrelated strands from the p.o.v. of different characters, but the tale eventually coalesces and concludes quite satisfactorily.

L.X. Beckett

  • Gamechanger (2019). This  pretty much has it all: direct electronic democracy, all-pervasive surveillance, pervasive social media, immersive VR, ecological disaster and recovery from it, alternative family structures, nonbinary characters, sentient AIs, and, yes, aliens.

Christopher Brown

  • Tropic of Kansas (2017). A gritty alternative-timeline story, with distinct anarchist overtones, of survival and resistance in an even more brutal and authoritarian present-day USA.

John Brunner

  • The Sheep Look Up. (1972) Probably the best early science fiction novel about the environmental crisis; antiauthoritarian, but not anarchist.

Several of Brunner’s other sci-fi novels are also enjoyable, particularly Shockwave Rider (1975) and The Crucible of Time (1983)(But don’t pick up one of Brunner’s novels at random and expect a good read — his output was very uneven.)

The Fourth World by Dennis Danvers front coverDennis Danvers

  • The Fourth World (2000). An intermediate-future novel set in the southern Mexico of the Zapatistas, and a very good — borderline great — book that deserves to have sold much better than it did.

Danvers has also written another anarchist sci-fi novel, The Watch (2003), a time travel novel set in Richmond, Virginia, featuring Peter Kropotkin as the primary character. It provides an accurate portrayal of Kropotkin and his ideas, but isn’t particularly engaging, in part because Danvers presents Kropotkin (in line with his actual character) as quite saintly and unconflicted, which isn’t a great prescription for the primary character in a novel.

Cory Doctorow

  • Walkaway (2017).  An intelligent, in places funny, near-future novel about the emergence of a post-scarcity anarchist society in the shadow of the “default reality” corporatist surveillance state.
  • Radicalized (2019). Not a novel, but rather a collection of four novellas (rather three novellas and a longish short story) dealing with the near future and such things as the treatment of refugees, the “Internet of Things,” healthcare, systemic racism through the lens of (yes) a superhero, and a fortified bunker for the super-rich in times of chaos. The tales are uniformly well written and emotionally affecting. This is probably Doctorow’s best book to date.

Many of Doctorow’s other sci-fi works are also enjoyable reads. One I’d recommend is The Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow (2011). As well, his Boing Boing blog routinely has a lot of interesting stuff.

Greg Egan

  • Distress  (1995). A hard sci-fi novel with pointed political and social commentary, largely set on an artificial island called “Stateless.” If you’re looking for a detailed description of how an anarchist society might operate, this isn’t it, but Distress is worth reading nonetheless.
  • The Four Thousand, The Eight Hundred (2016). An all too timely cautionary tale about xenophobia, demagoguery, scapegoating, and persecution of minorities. Not explicitly anarchist, but antiauthoritarian.

Omar El Akkad

  • American War (2017). Not anarchist, and only implicitly antiauthoritarian, American War is almost certainly the best fictional depiction of the psychological and physical devastation caused by America’s interventionist wars, and the hatred and terrorism they engender.

Mick Farren

  • cover of "The Armageddon Crazy" by Mick FarrenTheir Master’s War (1987). Antiauthoritarian but not anarchist. A page-turner concerning militarism, imperialism, and religious manipulation.
  • The Armageddon Crazy (1989). An antiauthoritarian, at times very funny, and all-too-relevant novel about a fundamentalist takeover of the U.S. government.

(These are Farren’s two best sci-fi novels, and the only two I’d unreservedly recommend.)

Harry Harrison

  • Bill, the Galactic Hero (1965). An astute, acidic, and oft-times amusing takedown of the military and militarism.
  • The Stainless Steel Rat Gets Drafted (1987). On the surface, this book seems to be escapist sci-fi, but it’s actually a well thought out political novel that perceptively treats mutualist anarchism and nonviolent resistance. Almost certainly the best book in the Stainless Steel Rat series.

Robert Heinlein

  • The Moon is a Harsh Mistress (1966). Deals with an anarcho-capitalist society on the moon at odds with an authoritarian Earth. This is likely Heinlein’s most libertarian work (in the laissez-faire capitalist sense of the word), and it’s much at odds with Heinlein’s overall authoritarian tendencies, notably expressed in Starship Troopers, which provoked a much-deserved take-down in Michael Moorcock’s famous essay, “Starship Stormtroopers.”

James P. HoganCode of the Lifemaker cover

  • Voyage from Yesteryear (1982). Features a setting directly derived from  Murray Bookchin’s Post-Scarcity Anarchism. Not Hogan’s best book — it pales in comparison with Code of the Lifemaker — but worth reading nonetheless.
  • Code of the Lifemaker (1983). Hogan’s very funny tale of science versus religious fanaticism is a nearly forgotten gem; not anarchist, but antiauthoritarian.
  • The Immortality Option (1995). The sequel to Code of the Lifemaker; it’s also worth reading, but be sure to read Code of the Lifemaker first.

Ursula Le Guin

  • The Left Hand of Darkness (1969). Leguin’s classic novel on gender relations.
  • The Dispossessed (1974). Considered by many the classic anarchist sci-fi novel, its backdrop, for half of the book, is an anarchist society set on the planet Anarres. That society is well drawn, though dryly and unflatteringly (at least in my opinion; others would disagree).

Of Le Guin’s many other novels, the one I’d most recommend is The Lathe of Heaven (1971), which holds up well nearly half a century after it appeared.


Ken Macleod

The first four novels are set in the same universe, but are not parts of a series. The next three are a loose trilogy.

  • The Stone Canal by Ken Macleod front coverThe Star Fraction (1995)
  • The Stone Canal (1996). The setting is an anarcho-capitalist society.
  • The Cassini Division (1998). The setting is an anarcho-communist society.
  • The Sky Road (1999)
  • Cosmonaut Keep (2000)
  • Dark Light (2001)
  • Engine City (2002)
  • The Night Sessions (2008). A cautionary tale of religious fanaticism
  • Intrusion (2012). A frighteningly plausible dystopian novel of an all-pervasive surveillance state. A modern 1984.
  • Corporation Wars: Dissidence (2016)
  • Corporation Wars: Insurgence (2016)
  • Corporation Wars: Emergence (2017)

Paul J. McAuley

  • The Quiet War (2008)Quiet War Omnibus
  • Gardens of the Sun (2009)

Antiauthoritarian but not anarchist, these two  novels comprise McAuley’s “Quiet War” series. They’re set in the medium-distant future following ecological collapse on Earth, and concern the brutal aggression of the authoritarian empires that emerged from the chaos against the in-some-ways anarchistic “Outers” who have colonized the moons of Jupiter and Saturn. There are two later novels set in the same universe, In the Mouth of the Whale (2012) and Evening’s Empires (2013).  These are largely stand-alone novels. In the Mouth of the Whale is best avoided (very slow reading), but Evening’s Empires is a pretty decent apolitical quest/revenge tale.

Many of McAuley’s other science fiction novels are worth reading. Two that come to mind are Pasquale’s Angel and White Devils.

Richard K. MorganAltered Carbon by Richard K. Morgan front cover

  • Altered Carbon (2002). The first of a brutal, noirish trilogy with distinct anarchist undertones. This provides one of the many examples of the book being better than the film or video adaptation.
  • Broken Angels (2003). The second in the series.
  • Woken Furies (2005). The third book in the series.
  • Market Forces (2004). An overtly political projection of the future of corporate capitalism.
  • Thirteen (2007). A very dystopian look at a future theofascist USA.

Morgan’s most recent sci-fi novel, Thin Air (2018), is worth a read. It’s less political than the Altered Carbon series, though its tone is similar.

Annalee NewitzAutonomous, by Annalee Newitz front cover

  • Autonomous (2017). Deals with the underestimated dangers of the corporate stranglehold on “intellectual property,” the horrors it could lead to, and possible forms of resistance to it.
  • The Future of Another Timeline (2019). Newitz’s recent feminist time-travel novel treads more familiar ground (TBGL/reproductive rights), but has very well drawn and diverse settings, well argued political/social points, and Newitz does a decent job of glossing over the paradoxes that are inevitable in any time-travel tale.

Claire North

  • 84K (2018). A well written, brutal dystopian tale about capitalism taken to its logical extreme (slavery — maximizing profits by minimizing labor costs). 84K is definitely not anarchist and is very short on solutions, but it does provide a gut-wrenching depiction of the emotional and physical carnage that seems all too possible should authoritarian capitalism continue careening downhill into the neoliberal chasm.

Nicholas P. Oakley

  • The Watcher (2014). Explores primitivism, the role of technology in society, and consensus decision making. (Full disclosure: See Sharp Press published this one.)

George Orwell

  • Animal Farm (1945). Orwell’s satirical critique of stalinism.
  • 1984 (1949). Dreary and depressing – as it’s intended to be – but essential. Orwell’s projection of the logical progression of stalinism.

Eliot Peper

  • Bandwidth (2018). A thought-provoking near-future thriller about online manipulation (basically Facebook on steroids), the climate change crisis, and whether the ends, no matter how noble, ever justify the means.

Marge Piercy

  • Woman on the Edge of Time  (1976)

Mike Resnick

  • A Hunger in the Soul (1998). Set in a barely disguised Africa, this is probably the best sci-fi treatment of the psychology of colonialism. Not anarchist, but well worth a read. If you haven’t read Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness (1898) or his perhaps even better short story, “An Outpost of Progress” (1897), reading them would be good preparation before plunging into A Hunger in the Soul.

Alastair ReynoldsChasm City cover

  • Revelation Space (2000)
  • Chasm City (2001).

The “Revelation Space” novels comprise a fairly loose series set on and around a far future world featuring direct electronic democracy, human-machine integration, uplifted animals, class stratification, and orbiting habitats with a vast array of social structures.  All of the books in the series work as stand-alone novels.

One of the sequels, The Prefect (2007), is worth reading sheerly for its entertainment value, as is the recent Elysium Fire (2018). It features the same cast of characters as The Prefect, and is a tightly written tale of murder, mystery, and revenge.

Kim Stanley Robinson

  • Lucky Strike (2009). A fine if short parallel-universes novella on the morality of “just following orders.” This is Robinson at his best.

A number of readers have suggested including Robinson’s Mars Trilogy novels here (Red Mars [1992]; Green Mars [1993]; Blue Mars [1996]). I haven’t done so simply because this is a list of anarchist and anarchist-related novels that I would recommend, and I’m not a fan of those books. The two Robinson novels I would recommend (neither related to anarchism) are Galileo’s Dream  (2009) and Aurora (2015). Those interested in possible political developments in China might also want to check out his Red Moon (2018).

Rudy RuckerSoftware by Rudy Rucker

The “ware” books comprise a very funny short tetralogy (written before the average sci-fi novel bloated to 700 pages) set in part against the backdrop of a sympathetically portrayed anarchist mechanoid society on the moon. The first two books in particular are gems.

  • Software (1982)
  • Wetware (1988)
  • Freeware (1997)
  • Realware (2000)

Rucker is also a great short story writer: many of his tales are both mind-bogglingly strange and brimming with laugh-out-loud, sometimes-crude humor. His Complete Stories (2012) runs to over a thousand pages, and perhaps his two best non-“ware” humorous novels (it’s hard to pick) are The Sex Sphere (1983) and Master of Space and Time (1984).

C.J. Sansom

  • Dominion (2015). A quite well written and chilling political alternative-history novel about what might have happened in Britain if  the Conservative Party appeasement faction had reached a peace accord with Hitler in 1940 following the fall of France.

John Shirley

  • Bioshock Rapture (2012). This novel is a prequel to the popular Bioshock video game. It’s of interest because it concerns the development of a cloistered Objectivist (Ayn Randist) society. Shirley does a good job of outlining some of the horrors that such a society would produce, but the worst horrors he describes are produced by the cloistering, which undercuts the critique of Objectivism as such.  As well, because he was essentially in a straitjacket when he wrote this, Shirley incorporates fantastical elements from the game that are unnecessary from a fictional standpoint and that detract from the novel’s power. But it’s worth reading anyway.

Norman Spinrad

  • The Iron Dream coverThe Iron Dream (1972). Alternately chilling and darkly funny, The Iron Dream’s premise is that Hitler emigrated to the U.S. in the 1920s, became a science fiction illustrator, and wrote a single sci-fi novel: The Iron Dream. The bulk of Spinrad’s book is comprised of the “manuscript” of that “novel,” and is an excellent illustration of the ugliness of the authoritarian psyche.

Many of Spinrad’s other antiauthoritarian sci-fi novels, such as Greenhouse Summer (1999) and He Walked Among Us (2009), both of which concern the ecological crisis, are also worth reading, as is his recent oft-times humorous political genre bender (sci-fi/fantasy) The People’s Police (2017). Getting somewhat away from sci-fi, Mind Game (1980) is Spinrad’s insightful treatment of a barely disguised Church of Scientology, and probably the best novel about cults ever written.

Charles Stross

  • The Rhesus Chart, by Charles Stross, cover imageSingularity Sky (2003). A military sci-fi/time-travel tale that features anarchist characters in an authoritarian setting.
  • Iron Sunrise (2004). The sequel to Singularity Sky.
  • Glass House (2006). A suspenseful, brutal tale about gender roles and conformity.
  • The Apocalypse Codex (2012). One of Stross’s genre-bending, amusing Laundry Files series, The Apocalypse Codex deals with a televangelist, his literally brain dead followers, and tentacled Lovecraftian horrors. Its treatment of both the absurdity and deadly menace of Christian fundamentalism is spot on. (A note on the Laundry Files books: While they can be read as stand-alone novels, they’re a lot more fun to read if you read them in order, starting with The Atrocity Archives [2004]).
  • Neptune’s Brood (2013). A strange, sometimes funny story about the structure of interstellar finances and financial fraud. Part of the book is set in a sympathetically portrayed deep sea anarchist society of genetically modified humans.
  • The Rhesus Chart (2014). Another entertaining Laundry Files novel. The Rhesus Chart deals with the big banks, and has a clear, concise explanation of exactly how they’re screwing us.
  • The Delirium Brief (2017). This latest Laundry Files novel has privatization schemes as its backdrop, and contains an admirably concise explanation of how such schemes rob the public to the benefit of the rich and the corporations they control.
  • Empire Games (2017). The first book in the new “Merchant Princes” trilogy, Empire Games deals in large part with an even-more-overtly repressive, surveillance-state USA than our current pseudo-democratic nightmare.  Stross provides enough background information that Empire Games works as a stand-alone novel, but for the inconclusive ending.
  • Dark State (2018). The same comments apply to Dark State, the second book in the new trilogy. The third and final book, Invisible Sun, was originally scheduled for January 2019, has been delayed several times, and is now scheduled for March 2020.

Stross’s work is antiauthoritarian, though anarchism is treated overtly only in Neptune’s Brood. Almost all of his other books, particularly Halting State (2007), Rule 34 (2011), and nearly all of the Laundry Files novels are excellent reads.

Arkady and Boris StrugatskyDoomed City front cover

  • The Doomed City (2016). A bleak, brutal, indirect dissection of the Soviet Union and the ideology that produced its horrors. Written in 1972, the brothers Strugatsky kept this novel under wraps for over 15 years until it was finally published in Russian in 1989 during perestroika; at long last it’s now available in English. Unfortunately, the English-language version reads very poorly, as it’s quite probably an overly literal translation.
  • The Snail on the Slope (2018). A new translation of another Strugatsky classic dealing in large part with the insanity and inanity of Soviet-style bureaucracy. Much shorter than The Doomed City, with shallower criticism of the Soviet system, but an easier read. Again, the translation reads quite roughly.

Of the Strugatskys’ many other sci-fi novels, the two I’d most recommend are their two most popular: Roadside Picnic (1971) and Hard To Be a God (1964). Both are more coherent and much more entertaining than the two novels listed above, which are primarily of political interest. (I’d recommend the older translations of both books: the recent translations read poorly due almost certainly to excessive literalism. The older versions of the Strugatsky’s works read much more smoothly than the newer, too literal translations, and are much more enjoyable.)

George TurnerDrowning Towers front cover

  • Drowning Towers (UK title: The Sea and Summer) (1987). Drowning Towers was the first major novel about climate change and is still one of the best, if not the best. It’s not anarchist and barely antiauthoritarian, but it is acutely class conscious and a literary masterpiece.
  • Brain Child (1991). A chilling and plausible look at a possible result of the use of genetic engineering to produce a race (actually three races) of ubermenschen. It still holds up.

The quality of Turner’s science fiction novels (he was also a literary novelist) was uneven, but mostly good and sometimes great. Drowning Towers and Brain Child are by far his best books. His final two sci-fi novels, Genetic Soldier (1994) and Down There in Darkness (1999) are decidedly subpar, with the latter being downright awful. (I suspect Turner’s publisher patched together fragments of an incomplete novel.) All of Turner’s other sci-fi novels (plus one short story collection, A Pursuit of Miracles [1990]) are well worth a read.

T.C. Weber

  • Sleep State Interrupt (2016). A near-future noirish techno-thriller about combatting the surveillance state, and the first book in the BetterWorld trilogy. (Full disclosure: See Sharp Press published this one.)
  • The Wrath of Leviathan (2018). The second book in the trilogy. The concluding volume, Zero-Day Rising, is scheduled for release in March 2020.

Robert Anton Wilson and Robert Shea

  • The Illuminatus Trilogy (1975). More fantasy than science fiction, this hallucinogenic, sprawling mess of a trilogy veers wildly from the unreadable to the unparalleled, featuring sex, drugs, multiple first-person narrators, shifting chronology, stream-of-consciousness narrative, conspiracies on steroids, self-mockery, zombie Nazis, one of the funniest parodies of Ayn Rand’s capitalist-fantasy/romance novels ever written (“Telemacchus Sneezed,” featuring “John Guilt”), and occasional insightful comments on anarchism.

For those who’ve read and enjoyed The Illuminatus Trilogy, I’d also recommend Wilson’s Schroedinger’s Cat Trilogy (1979).

Yevgeny Zamyatin

  • We  (1924). Written by one of the first Soviet dissidents (within the Communist Party), this dreamy, nightmarish, poetic novel of an all-controlling police state is the direct forerunner of 1984.

 

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Zeke Teflon, who compiled this list, is the author of Free Radicals: A Novel of Utopia and Dystopia, which takes place in part in an anarchist community. He’s currently working on the sequel in his copious free time.

Free Radicals front cover

 

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