By William H. Stoddard
Science fiction has mainly been based on the natural sciences, from astronomy to biology; economics and the other social sciences come on stage less often.
Certainly, social science fiction was one of Isaac Asimov’s three categories of science fiction (along with gadget stories and adventure stories—as TV Tropes puts it, “Man invents car” can be followed by “lectures on how it works,” “gets into car chase,” or “gets stuck in traffic”).
But the premise for social science fiction was commonly a discovery or invention in the natural sciences, whose social and economic consequences are explored. It’s not so common for science fiction to be inspired by an economic theory.
Nonetheless, some theories have been the basis for science fiction stories. Economic issues are a major concern for libertarians; how science fiction deals with such issues is worth exploring.
Continue reading Economics in Science Fiction: The Specter of Overproduction (from Pohl and Huxley to Heinlein)
By William H. Stoddard
In the current century, publishers have brought out previously unseen material by Robert Heinlein.
Some of it is simply alternate versions of familiar novels, such as Podkayne of Mars, The Puppet Masters, Red Planet, and Stranger in a Strange Land.
But we’ve also see works that he didn’t publish, but that he later quarried for the material of later works: For Us, the Living, which supplied a secondary character to Beyond This Horizon and several thematic elements to the Future History, and The Pursuit of the Pankera, which was radically rewritten to give us The Number of the Beast.
With the compilation of the Virginia Edition, not only all of Heinlein’s previously published works have been made available, but various less known ones, such as decades of his letters. Among these are various ventures into scriptwriting for movies and television. Destination Moon is well known, but his proposals for television series were never produced, and only with the Virginia Edition have they become available.
The last of these, Century XXII, was mainly worked on in 1963, and he abandoned it in 1964 after clashes with Howie Horowitz, who proposed the project to him. After that, Heinlein gave up on writing for film and television as a waste of time. But Century XXII casts some light onto Heinlein’s later writing, and especially onto The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress, generally regarded as one of his best novels and more specifically as the prototype of libertarian science fiction.
Continue reading Origin Story: What Heinlein’s previously unseen fiction and never-produced TV series reveal about his libertarian classic The Moon is a Harsh Mistress