For those of us concerned with anarchist storytelling, Michael Moorcock’s 1978 essay Starship Stormtroopers simply knows no equal. Here is a science fiction legend, an anarchist himself, explaining the politics of the 1960-70s science fiction scene and ruthlessly attacking the reactionary and conservative elements in genre fiction. While much of the essay discusses stories that seem less relevant today, other parts tear apart many science fiction legends whose presence lingers on in the world. Of particular interest to me is how masterfully and concisely Moorcock pieces apart the romanticism that draws us to conservative writing.
Ursula K. Le Guin is being given an honorary National Book Award. That she deserves it is beyond question: at 84 years old, she’s run out of other prizes to win. In the science fiction and fantasy ghetto, she’s swept all the categories and can safely rest on her laurels as a Science Fiction Writers of America “Grand Master,” of which there are only thirty-one.
On September 9, Ursula K. Le Guin received the National Book Awards 2014 Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters, which is a huge, major, unbelievably big deal. Past recipients for this award include Joan Didion, Toni Morrison, and Tom Wolfe.
Anyone who underwent a liberal-arts education in recent decades probably encountered the thorny theorists associated with the Institute for Social Research, better known as the Frankfurt School. Their minatory titles, filled with dark talk of “Negative Dialectics” and “One-Dimensional Man,” were once proudly displayed on college-dorm shelves, as markers of seriousness; now they are probably consigned to taped-up boxes in garages, if they have not been discarded altogether. Once in a while, the present-day Web designer or business editor may open the books and see in the margins the excited queries of a younger self, next to pronouncements on the order of “There is no document of culture which is not at the same time a document of barbarism” (Walter Benjamin) or “The whole is the false” (Adorno).
A good friend, someone who is working towards the transformation of our society into something resilient, equitable and beautiful, told me the other day that they can’t actually imagine what a transformed society would look like, and that they felt that that was impeding their ability to stay motivated. I couldn’t believe it. For me what we’re working towards is so vivid and real, and that’s part of what’s helped me to not just imagine a better future and stay motivated, but to share that vision with others and motivate them.
It’s no secret that the publishing world is being wrenched apart by forces well beyond its control. Between the ever-shrinking attention span of the average American and the arrival of an entire generation brought up on digital storytelling in video games, on the web and T.V., the book as a means of entertainment seems rather quaint, almost an affectation.
There’s an article on Vice/Noisey which has been making the internet rounds lately about being a lady in a band. I have mixed feelings about even mentioning the article, because I don’t want to belittle the author’s experiences and feelings, but it’s definitely important context. Reading it, and some of the reactions and commentary around it, got me thinking about how I might write something similar.
Today is Ian MacKaye's birthday. Best known as the frontman of Minor Threat and Fugazi and as the co-founder of Washington DC's influential Dischord record label, the 52-year-old musician has an iconic reputation within the punk rock world, his name a by-word for uncompromised integrity, independent thought and principled self-determination.
A little more than a year ago, we announced a new series, The Anarchist Imagination, challenging people to write compelling anarchist utopian novellas and novels. (Okay, we said novellas at the time, but then we published a novel. So I suppose we're open to novels too.)
In the existing world, largely governed by the logic of capital and the pathologies of accumulation, real madness is the absence of revolt. Wherever revolt is absent in the world today, we should worry about human health and sanity. A society that does not revolt against a social order that damages it with such escalating facility—psychologically, collectively, ecologically—is a society at the terminal stage. Revolt is the healthy expression of reasonable refusal.