And the thing is…the technolibertarians are people like me. I’m very, very different from your typical Daily Mail reader or UKIP voter, to the point where there’s nothing for me to engage with there. But the technolibertarians share a lot of my cultural reference points, and even some of my individual policy positions (they’re very keen on basic income, for example, which is one reason you’ll have noticed an uptick in that policy’s visibility in recent years). I read a lot of the same blogs as those people, I share some of their aesthetics.
And a lot of these people’s ideas come from, and feed back into, science fiction. There’s a reason that it was “geek culture” that produced Gamergate and the Rabid Puppies, two of the early signs of Trumpism. One can trace direct lines from science fiction writers like Ayn Rand and Robert Heinlein to the beliefs of many of the people who are actually benefiting from Trumpism (the billionaires like Musk and Thiel).
Andrew Hickey on the alien at home.
From Hickey’s essay on why he’s going to start reading the winners of the Prometheus Award, a.k.a. the libertarian SFF version of the Hugos.
Like Hickey, I find technolibertarians fascinating, since I too come out of that same demographic of “80s nerds with Computer Science degrees”. I’ve definitely flirted with holding proto-technolibertarian views in the (deep, dark, best forgotten) past, though being both a woman and queer was a great rainbow-glass floor that–in retrospect, thankfully–stopped me from falling too far down that rabbit hole.
Hickey points out that a lot of winners of the Prometheus Award most certainly don’t hold techolibertarian views, and cites noted Scottish socialist Charles Stross as an example. As someone who likes Stross in principle but bounced hard off the Laundry Files I can say exactly why the Roko’s Basilisk crowd love the books. Spoiler alert: it’s the same reason I found The Atrocity Archives unreadable, to which see the mediocre-douchebro-wish-fulfillment protagonist.1 I’ve worked with enough bros of this ilk in my day job not to find them in any way engaging in fiction. Also see: Ready Player One and The Martian for the same reasons.2
- To Stross’s credit, I’ve heard this is Known Issue with the first Files book, and gets toned down and written out in later novels. So the series is still on my “to give a second shot” list, albeit in a I Wouldn’t Start From Here sort of way. [↩]
- And John Dies at the End as a counter-example. Which seems like it should be in the same sort of bucket, but isn’t, and which I think does not receive nearly enough credit for the relentless way it deconstructs the archetype. [↩]