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.
Prometheus-winning author and scholar Victor Koman is leading a new project to digitize the papers and publications of Samuel Edward Konkin III (SEK3) for posterity.
Konkin, a libertarian philosopher and activist who led the “agorist” wing of the libertarian movement in the 1970s and 1980s, influenced quite a few libertarians and libertarian science fiction writers, such as the Prometheus Award winners J. Neil Schulman, Brad Linaweaver and Koman himself.
The Libertarian Futurist Society is celebrating the Prometheus Awards’ four-decade-plus history by publishing an Appreciation series of review-essays that strive to make clear why each award-winner deserves recognition as a pro-freedom work.
Here’s an appreciation of Vernor Vinge’s story “The Ungoverned,” the 2004 Prometheus Hall of Fame winner for Best Classic Fiction.
“The Ungoverned” is one of the rare sf stories to portray a plausible and fully libertarian society. Moreover, Vernor Vinge does so with intelligence, subtlety, vision and enjoyable narrative twists.
Set in the ungoverned lands of a recovering future Kansas after a social collapse, Vernor Vinge’s 1985 novella focuses on what happens when New Mexico’s statist government tries to invade anarchist-libertarian Kansas with unexpected results.