Most of the sci-fi (and much fantasy) that I enjoy reading is heavily laden with political concepts: power struggles, revolution, exploration of alternative political systems. For example, Kim Stanley Robinson's Mars trilogy and Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four. Often there's also a lot of related concepts mixed, like gender issues (Ursula Le Guin), or ethics (lots of Asimov's stuff), or political intrigue (e.g. Wurts and Feist's Empire trilogy).

Is political sci-fi, or socio-political sci-fi (or fantasy) a recognised genre anywhere? I never see it in bookshops, but it seems like it could be a really useful classification.

  • 1
    Recognised by whom?
    – Mike Scott
    Dec 21, 2020 at 19:57

2 Answers 2


Social Science Fiction is a recognized subgenre of Science Fiction.

From wikipedia:

Social science fiction is a subgenre of science fiction concerned less with technology and space opera and more with sociological speculation about human society. In other words, it "absorbs and discusses anthropology", and speculates about human behavior and interactions.

Exploration of fictional societies is a significant aspect of science fiction, allowing it to perform predictive (H.G. Wells, The Final Circle of Paradise) and precautionary (Fahrenheit 451) functions, to criticize the contemporary world (Antarctica-online) and to present solutions (Walden Two), to portray alternative societies (World of the Noon) and to examine the implications of ethical principles (the works of Sergei Lukyanenko).

  • 1
    Would you be willing to expand on this? Longer answers are generally better ones, after all. Sep 18, 2012 at 19:10
  • @neilfein, I believe I have answered the question. Expanding on it would simply mean paraphrasing the Wikipedia entry to which I have linked, which I would consider redundant.
    – Dima
    Sep 18, 2012 at 19:20
  • Decide for yourself, of course, but the Stack Exchange community disagrees with you. Sep 18, 2012 at 19:30
  • I did decide for myself, and in this particular case the link contains exactly the right answer to the question.
    – Dima
    Sep 19, 2012 at 12:47
  • Dima: Expansion would be useful, but thanks for the link.
    – naught101
    Sep 20, 2012 at 9:27

While books are not listed specifically as political science fiction, the very nature of science fiction has often questioned the nature of society, it's politics, ethics, social dynamics. The very earliest works including H.G. Well's The Time Machine discusses themes of sociological changes in the human species. The topic is very extensive and can cover a wide array of scientific and sociological themes including:

  • Alien Contact
  • Anarchy
  • Assassination
  • Capitalism
  • Dystopia
  • Ecology
  • Eugenics
  • Fascism
  • Militarism
  • Plutocracy
  • Pacifism
  • Racism
  • Revolution
  • Slavery
  • Totalitarianism
  • Utopia

This is hardly a complete list of all of the socio-political ideas covered in science fiction, but many of the best works have fallen under these themes.

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