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Science Fiction Worlds with Advanced Politics


Science fiction is a genre that allows for speculation on all kinds of topics, and has many sub-genres within it. Many stories contain political or philosophical elements, but often these themes take a back seat to the adventure, or aren't explored in detail.

However, there are some novels and series that, in addition to providing great entertainment, are also a deep dive into themes and scenarios that take the story to another level for readers interested in political theory, philosophy, and economcs.

The novels below have some educational value when it comes to these kinds of topics. The beauty of science fiction is that you can try applying political theories and structures to all kinds of scenarios and scales and see what happens, without being restrained to the geography and history of Earth.

Whether you are taking political science courses in school and want to see possible applications of the theories, or if you just have a casual interest in the field, these novels have political issues and structures worked out in detail with solid world-building. If you're already familiar with such themes and history from the real world, these stories can help enrich your understanding of the issues.

An Enemy of the State, by F. Paul Wilson

This is the first, and probably the best, book in the LaNague Federation series and covers a lot of political, philosophical, and economic concepts on various planets in the distant future.

The central story focuses on the protagonist, Peter LaNague, and his plans to overthrow an entrenched authoritarian and bureaucratic government. To do that, he must make deals with other players who have their own interests and political views, create a plan to cover all contingencies, and manipulate the citizens he wants to set free.

The society's economic collapse and LaNague's propaganda for prompting a revolution provide a clear illustration of what happens during hyper-inflation and will be familiar to readers who have lived through such periods. The sub-plots and minor characters show the average citizen's experience, while LaNague and his associates have the large-scale view.

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Voyage From Yesteryear, by James P. Hogan

What makes this novel interesting is its convincing portrayal of what a society without government might look like (and actually function).

In the 21st century, a probe from Earth containing human DNA is sent to colonize a habitable planet. The colonists are raised by robots, and having plenty of energy and resources available, develop into a society without any real government or monetary system. Decades later, additional ships from Earth, which is now controlled by authoritarian governments, are sent to the colony. However, the Earth governments' attempts to exert power over the colonists all fail.

The story is especially thought-provoking by showing how political institutions and money might become irrelevant and have no power over citizens when there is no longer any reason for those institutions to exist and resources are no longer scarce.

Insurrection, by David Weber and Steve White

Based on the Starfire strategy board game, Insurrection takes place several hundred years in the future. The human government, known as the Terran Federation and controlled mainly by Earth and the older wealthier colonies, has been abusing and ignoring the poorer outlying planets.

Some of these worlds decide to secede and form their own government. This puts into motion a series of epic space battles, along with unexpected political and diplomatic consequences. Weber is well-versed in military history and political science, so the events that lead to the break-ups, evolutions, and formations of governments in the story make a lot of sense and feel like the natural result of the conflicts.

The authors wrote several other novels set in the same universe, which are also quite good if you like military science fiction, and each author has written or co-authored many other novels.

Bio of a Space Tyrant Series, by Piers Anthony

For a more personal journey of someone who starts with nothing, learns the political system, and becomes a powerful leader, the Bio of a Space Tyrant series covers a lifetime of conflict and intrigue.

In this series, all the planets in the solar system have been colonized. Each planet and moon, and the conflicts between them, correspond roughly to the geopolitics of the Cold War in the 1980s. These parallels reduce the originality of the story, but work well enough to show the ascent to power of the main character, Hope Hubris.

The first book introduces the character and the early trauma he experiences (Refugee). The middle three books (Mercenary, Politician, Executive) are probably the best, covering Hubris's military career, his election to public office, and becoming the "space tyrant" of Jupiter. The series wraps up with last years of his life (Statesman). There is also a sixth book (The Iron Maiden), showing events from the viewpoint of another major character.

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