I’ve kind of been getting really annoyed about a bunch of stuff circulating both within political Twitter and writing world about politics.
Within the political Twitter world, there are a bunch of pundits out there that, frankly, have me shaking my head and saying “I could do better.” Not only do I hold an actual, y’know, degree in Political Science with an emphasis on electoral politics, but I have 20-plus years of experience in electoral party politics and several years of union organizing experience. I’ve just never gone there, because while I’ve done ‘zine-level political writing (in the ’90s) and wrote a column for my university newspaper while getting my Masters in Special Education, I’ve not liked doing a lot of the pundit-type writing. Now I’m wondering if I shouldn’t have stuck to it and tried to go national, but…oh well, such is life and that possibility would have required many different choices back in the ’80s and ’90s.
Nonetheless, I suspect I’ll be dashing off a few rants of my own, including resurrecting some articles about political involvement that I wrote in the ’90s and updating them for the current era.
Within writing world, there’s some folks kicking up a fuss about politics in fiction. Generally, in this situation, what they mean by “politics in fiction” are specific political stances that might cause a reader to put down an author’s book. But I don’t believe those people advocating for “no politics in fiction” have thought it through. I suspect that they associate “politics in fiction” with situations where the main characters stop the story to lecture the reader. Or situations where controversial issues with which they disagree pop up. But fiction glorifying war? Promoting a particular faith? Suggesting that women are unfulfilled unless they return to a traditional, small-town life?
(Yes, I’m simplifying. Yes, this is a broad brush.)
Anyway, people, those stories are just as political as the ones you abhor.
Politics in fiction isn’t just about the overt, A plot. I defy anyone to show me a piece of writing that doesn’t have some sort of politics in it based on religion, sexuality, socioeconomic status, societal structures, power inequities…all of which have political implications.
It’s inescapable because we all have basic presuppositions about society and how it should be organized. Those presuppositions carry through in how a writer builds the characters, the world, and the plot. No matter if we’re talking a piece of fluff written for pure entertainment or a Significant Commentary on Modern Life, the writer’s essential presuppositions will carry through into their work.
Recently, for promotional reasons, I thumbed back through the Martiniere Legacy trilogy (which will become a quadology this fall). I had tended to dismiss the political B plot as not being significant.
Hoo boy, was I way off base.
The political elements in the main Martiniere Legacy books are: creation of an indentured servitude class due to all sorts of debt issues; the agency those indentured workers may or may not have over their own bodies during the duration of their contracts; reproductive rights, especially with regard to those indentured workers; a major corporate leader dabbling in political leadership of a splinter far-right political party and making a run for President; and a tiny bit about corporate ownership of cyborg and clones. It’s all B plot, but I hadn’t considered that trilogy to be as political as it is on rereading–especially in the second and third books.
Granted, I published Inheritance, Ascendant, and Realization in 2020. All the same, thumbing through them during this past week has been rather of a smack in the face. When I put those books together, I was reading the trends and projecting, slightly.
I just didn’t realize how bleak my presuppositions are right now.