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Political Science Fiction

What is Political Science Fiction?

Political Science Fiction is not so much a sub-genre of its own as it is a theme well suited to Science Fiction stories. Sci Fi is about exploring possibilities, especially in regards to the future. Political Sci Fi is an extension of this ideal—speculating about where politics can take humanity. Political Sci Fi is a vehicle to explore and experiment with new ideas about government.

Sci Fi can be political in many ways. In a dark and satirical way, like the classic 1984, which is a tale about the capability of totalitarian governments and its impacts on individuality and identity itself. Other stories may focus less on specific politics and more on how politics work—often told from the perspective of an outsider looking in. The politics explored can be speculations on our own political climate—a response to WWII or the Cuban Missile Crisis. The politics explored can also be those of imagined civilizations—this route allows writers to speculate on theories that are not possible in our world.

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Other Features of Political Science Fiction

  • Level of Real Science

    Variable. With the exception of Pulp Sci Fi, politics are generally seen as a more immediate means to shape the future and society (as opposed to technology and discovery), so science may not feature in a Political Sci Fi story. However, politics can also be just another component in an otherwise Hard Sci Fi story.

  • Level of Grand Ideas/Social Implications

    High. Ideas are ubiquitous in Political Sci Fi and because politics are concerned with populations and countries, the social implications are also highly relevant.

  • Level of Characterization

    Variable. Characters can be well developed heroes leading a rebellion against an oppressive government, they can be cogs in the machine, they can be drivers of the story or a mere necessity to explore the grand ideas.

  • Level of Plot Complexity

    High. To truly understand a political idea and its effects, readers need to see the idea in action, which requires a well crafted plot.

  • Level of Violence

    Variable. Political Sci Fi can incorporate bloody rebellions or it can demonstrate the value of pacifism.

Related Science Fiction subgenres




    Military Science Fiction. Politics are usually the driving force of Military Sci Fi. Dystopia. Dystopia's usually portray a social and political structure that is undesirable and are therefore portrayals of oppressive governments.

  • Near-Future Science Fiction. Speculations on the Near Future must also speculate on its politics because of its proximity to our own world and because politics tend to shape the world more quickly than technology.

  • Alternate History. What if a particular political event had happened differently?

  • Dystopias. Dystopias often heavily criticize a specific political system of some sort. As such, they are highly political.

Political Science Fiction isn't for you if...

If you don't like politics. Realistically, politics are a component to world-building, which is a key element in crafting successful Sci Fi, so there is likely to be some amount of Political Sci Fi in any Sci Fi story (Pulp Sci Fi being a notable exception).

Political Science Fiction Books