This archive is an open-source repository of anarchist or anarchy-adjacent science fiction. Featured on the site are books, movies, and other media which are either anarchist in their politics or of interest to anarchists.
This archive was first collected and organized by Ben Beck, who gathered and maintained it for the better part of three decades (!) As of 2019, it was redesigned and re-built by Eden Kupermintz and Yanai Sened as a collaborative effort. Eventually, the goal is for a community to help maintain and edit the wealth of knowledge on this site, as well as to add to it (follow us on Twitter where we aim to organize this community).
Let's get started! Use the sidebar on the left to choose an entry, scroll down to start exploring or click here to jump to a random entry!
Fairly indigestible, cyberpunk-influenced, near-future scenario—questionably worth the effort. Acker's relationship with anarchism is discussed in Diana Fare's 2002 PhD thesis 'The Edges of the Unsaid: Transgressive Practices in the Fiction of Kathy Acker', downloadable from EThOS. According to British anarchist Ian Bone, on his Facebook page, Acker once sent Class War a cheque for £50, which funded an issue of the paper.
Notably, David Graeber discusses the first two books in the series (The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy and The Restaurant at the End of the Universe) in his Bullshit Jobs. In particular, he focuses on Adams's satirical representation of telephone sanitizers, hairdressers, advertising executives, and second-hand car salesmen, questioning the degree to which these are indeed bullshit jobs. He says:
"I have no particular bone to pick with Douglas Adams; in fact, I have a fondness for all manifestations of humorous British seventies sci-fi; but nonetheless, I find this particular fantasy alarmingly condescending. First of all, the list is not really a list of useless professions at all. It’s a list of the sort of people a middle-class bohemian living in Islington around that time would find mildly annoying."
Suggested as anarchist reading by a poster to libcom.org.
In its irreverence of authority and its absurdism, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy can certainly hold interest for the anarchist reader. Within its pages, it seems that no hierarchy, no political structure, no matter how big or small, doesn't hold some form of corruption within it. Whether the crass and brutal lack of empathy of the Vogons, the mind-numbing bureaucracy of local, municipal government, or the start-system encompassing absurdism of the galactic governance, all the systems in these books are a mockery of rigid, segmented power-structures and their traps.
In their place, individual empathy, perseverance and ingenuity are often suggested or expanded upon. However, it should be noted that, as part of its satirical voice, there are no firm political alternatives suggested within the series. The fact that it's very good more than makes up for that.
Described by Paul Di Filippo at Locus as "High Camp Anarchist SF", it's nothing of the sort, not really even anarchic, as perhaps Di Filippo meant to say.
Influential early SF film, but more style than substance. An engineer dreams of travelling to Mars by rocket, falling in love with its queen Aelita, then leading an uprising to establish a Union of Soviet Socialist Martian Republics. 'Quaint' might be the word.
Included in the Red Planets filmography (see under Bould, in bibliography), and in libcom.org's Working class cinema: a video guide.
Three series of short animations, first shown on MTV (the first two series very short indeed, the third series of roughly 22-minute episodes), featuring secret agent Æon Flux, set in two countries in what was once Eastern Europe in the year 7698, after a global environmental disaster. One country is said to be an anarchist society while the other is a police state led by Aeon Flux’s antagonist.
15 minute short featuring an airship attack on London. Believed to have been based on Fawcett's Hartmann the Anarchist. No footage is known to survive. For Tony Shaw (see bibliography), the film "can be seen as early evidence of film-makers' ability to marry terrorism with images of mass destruction."
Included in the CIRA filmography (see bibliography).
Classic anime, set in a post-World War III Neo-Tokyo, featuring a teenage biker who develops special psychic powers and eventually liberates the imprisoned Akira, also a psychic, who had been blamed for the war.
In a comment on a blog about Akira, John Wiberg said "Akira, to me at least, has always been about power and oppression (It is in essence a highly political film; something rarely discussed considering the film features anarchist revolutionaries, greedy officials dying clutching money and a riot being suppressed by military police). Alex Fitch at Electric Sheep notes, too, that "it is only the interaction of the super-powered with ordinary, albeit anarchist, humans that stops the (complete) destruction of Tokyo for a third time."
Described by Francis Hines, in his 2021 PhD thesis Evading Representation: The Literature of Contemporary U.S. Anarchism,
as "a paranoid and Pynchonian narrative about the development of a government spyware programme and its exposure by San Francisco anarchists," the novel is
itself written by a collective of San Francisco anarchists, and an anarchist is one of the central characters.
Darlingtonia was reviewed by Ruhe for Fifth Estate in Summer 2018. Finding the novel refreshingly optimistic and highly readable, Ruhe draws a fair parallel with Eggers's The Circle, but considers that Darlingtonia "presents a much clearer and more direct critique in its unambiguous stance against the tech economy"; it "succeeds at simply being a good story, avoiding the didactic tendency of much political fiction."
"There is Brian Aldiss with his Barefoot in the Head vision of an LSD 'bombed' Europe almost totally liberated and developing bizarre new customs." (Moorcock 1978) There was an interesting exchange concerning the book in Foundation in 1976, between Peter Nicholls and Brian Aldiss. Nicholls felt that, while it is "not fair to say that the novel preaches anarchy, . . . it certainly accepts it", and that it is "somehow more anarchic than one believes Aldiss to be." (Nicholls 1976: 34, 35). Aldiss's reply, in a letter in the following issue, exclaimed indignantly that " . . . the novel is about anarchy; but why claim that I therefore espouse it? Don't I make it look nasty enough?" (Aldiss 1976: 48).
Vittorio Curtoni in 1978 singled out the other three titles, probably for the sole reason that they existed in Italian translation; he described them as "inspired parables", modelled with the tools of psychoanalysis (Curtoni 25). Earthworks is an Aldiss potboiler, of minimal interest; 'Down the Up Escalator' is a minor work in which a publisher's sickness is paralleled with the Vietnam war; and Intangibles, Inc. is a good collection of five stories (Curtoni may only have been referring to the title story; it has no special relevance, however).
Remarked on favourably by D.P. (see bibliography) in 1986.
A Mars colony is cut off from contact with Earth, and seeks to create a new utopian society from scratch; meanwhile there are parallel stories regarding the discovery that the Martian mountain Olympus Mons is actually a gigantic sentient being, the quest for the particle we now know to be the Higgs boson, and the nature of consciousness. As a novel it's a disappointing failure through trying to cram so much into too small a space. Nevertheless, the utopian aspects have definite interest.
In 2004 the novel was the subject of a half-page review in Freedom, by David Peers. He notes that it "discusses several topics of interest to anarchists: a small community with few formal structures; a society that works without using money; ways of discarding previously learned habits of thought and so on", as well as "How do we deal with crime and punishment?" Peers concludes: "The obvious science fiction comparison is with Ursula Le Guin's novel, The Dispossessed. In that book the anarchy was established and congealing. Here, it's struggling to begin."
Fiona Harrington, in a posting to the Anarchy-SF mailing list in 2009, found it "a bit disappointing in that it was overly didactic at the expense of narrative", but "interesting as a novel of ideas and exploration of how an alternative society would or could work. It is more or less anarchistic, no formal government but a few authoritarian personalities wield a degree of influence, also no money!"
Overlong and not terribly coherent, with a dislikeable lead character and a cast of cardboard cut-outs, this nevertheless has a degree of interest for its discussion of free market anarchism, and some worked examples of how 'criminal justice' might work in this situation.
Ferocious scary alien stalks and kills the crew of a spaceship.
Categorised as subversive by Glenn in his 2015 essay 'Film as Subversion', in the BASTARD Chronicles. In his view, "The real horror of the film was not the multi-mandibled, slathering lizard, it was discovering that the crew's bosses intentionally sent them to collect the alien and then serve as its meal for the journey home, forcing the viewer to reevaluate his relationship with his own employers."
Three contributors to the Facebook Anarchism and Science Fiction Forum, in November 2016, listed this film as among the best SF ever committed to film.
Second instalment in the Alien franchise, the film follows the lead character Ripley as she returns to the planet where her crew first encountered the hostile alien, this time accompanied by a unit of space marines.
One of Rich Dana's candidates for best sci-fi ever committed to film, on the Anarchism and Science Fiction Forum.
Film version of Schulman's novel, directed by the author.
Distinctly poor, and really only for the agorist converted.
French New Wave pulp sf, but shot in black and white in a hard-boiled film noir style, with a surrealist streak. An intergalactic secret agent goes to Alphaville, a city run by a computer busy eradicating emotion from its occupants, defeats the computer's logic, kills its creator, and departs with the latter's daughter. Plenty of thoughtful dialogue along the way.
Described in Red Planets (see Bould, in bibliography) as a "Dystopian satire on bureaucracy and commodification, betraying a genuine affection for popular culture.
Included in Stuart Christie's filmography.
Based on the novel by Richard Morgan. Received about a minute's discussion at the end of one of the anarchySF
Recommended by Common Action at the panel "Beyond The Dispossessed: Anarchism and Science Fiction" at the Seattle Anarchist Bookfair in October 2009.
A joyful spontaneous world-wide rebellion in which everyone decides we got it wrong and need to start again: no bosses, no jails, no private property, free love. Year 01 of the new order.
Porton (see bibliography) describes the film as "essentially a series of neo-situationist black-out sketches … somewhat stymied by a rather nebulous utopianism", though exhibiting a "charming gloss on 1968's spirit of negation." (2nd edn, p98)
Included in the CIRA filmography (see bibliography).
Just four issues were published, but all are still entertaining. There are comic strips with SF content in three of the four, most notably by Paul Mavrides and Jay Kinney.
In 1981 #3 received a long and enthusiastic review by Cliff Harper, for whom this issue was "the best one so far." He further said:
"'Anarchy Comix', over its 3 years existence has reached a readership that in numbers outstrips that of the US and English anarchist press together, and what's more most of these readers are not already committed to anarchist or radical perspectives. So 'Anarchy Comix' must be seen as a major success in anarchist propaganda and in anarchist art. I believe the main reason for this success is that it is a visual form, relying not on endless words and dry theory, but rather on pictures (and humour)."
Harper had earlier reviewed #2 in 1980.
Set on a tidally locked planet, with contrasting cultures and misunderstood aliens. The novel was reviewed by Zeke Teflon for the Sharp and Pointed blog, in one of his most negative critiques: despite initial expectations that "Anders would have a lot to say politically and socially, that the story would be well crafted, and that there would be at least some humor in it", "Those expectations crashed and burned. This is one of the most ineptly written novels I’ve ever read. Contrary to expectations, Anders has nothing to say politically or socially. Nothing. And as far as craft? OMG."
His conclusion: "Very much not recommended."
Read without any expectations, it's not quite as bad as Teflon suggests.
Comical sf from the heart of hippiedom, in which alien 6 ft blue lobsters seek to take over the world by spiking the drinking water with a drug that causes collective hallucinations on the grand scale.
According to Andrew Nette and Iain McIntyre, in their 2021 Dangerous Visions and New Worlds. Radical Science Fiction, 1950 to 1985, Anderson used some of the proceeds from this novel to set up Haight-Ashbury's Communications Company, which printed radical manifestos for the Diggers, the street theatre community anarchists in San Francisco.
Recommended by Common Action at the panel "Beyond The Dispossessed: Anarchism and Science Fiction" at the Seattle Anarchist Bookfair in October 2009. Also on Think Galactic's reading list.
A fine and timely view of a future in which corporations have direct access to consumers' minds and purchasing behaviours, via an implanted net feed, viewed from the perspective of two young people with different takes on this dystopian vision.
In 'The Star Beast' a future earth has a social system resembling a form of anarchy, though not so described; it is presented as typical of decadence.
"It was a short story called Security Risk, in ASTOUNDING SCIENCE FICTION a monthly American magazine, that had in fact, first interested me in ideas that I later found to be embodied in anarchism." (Pilgrim 1963)
In 'For the Duration' an authoritarian future US government is overthrown, but the revolutionary forces quickly proved just as bad. The obvious anarchist moral is only implicitly drawn.
'The Last of the Deliverers' is a creaky, cold-war yarn with some attractive post-consumerism and a tinge of green. Dan Clore's summation: 'In a world where the US and USSR have become decentralized, libertarian socialist townships, the last capitalist debates the last Communist, and everyone else is bored by their irrelevance.'
In 'No Truce with Kings', Earth's states have broken into small, feudal realms; alien invaders attempt to reintroduce civilization to the "starveling anarchs" of the planet, who prefer the relative freedom offered by a choice of masters.' (Dan Clore) The story won the Libertarian Futurist Society Hall of Fame Award in 2010.
The Winter of the World is set in the far future during a second Ice Age; people of one community, the Rogaviki, are instinctively co-operative, with no government, and no religion; they are not wholly admirable, though, being highly territorial, and sufficiently unhuman that the protagonist finally concludes that they are actually a new human species.
Trader to the Stars tied for the 1985 Libertarian Futurist Society Hall of Fame Award, which was won by The Star Fox in 1995. The Stars Are Also Fire won the 1995 Prometheus Award.
Dull Christian utopia, apparently an influence on Bacon's New Atlantis.
For Nettlau (see Nettlau's Esbozo, in bibliography) this, with the Bacon and Campanella utopias, "offer the greatest interest and, [ . . . ] for the organization of work, of science, of inventions present remarkable perspectives."
Berneri (see bibliography) says:
"Throughout his utopia one feels that his love of men inclined him to trust them as sensible beings capable of going about their lives in a reliable and honest way, but his religion told him that man is wicked and has to be carefully guided, preached to and, if necessary, threatened, to be kept away from sin. That is why his ideal city is a curious combination of free guilds and religious tyranny, of personal responsibility and of complete submission to religion."
American-Japanese anime anthology loosely based on the Matrix trilogy: a compilation of nine short films, including the back story of the original war between man and machines which led to the creation of the Matrix. Surprisingly successful, and more interesting than the final two of the Matrix trilogy.
Superior exemplar of the New Weird, visually very impressive, though the story (based on the novel of the same name by Jeff VanderMeer) is quite reminiscent of Tarkovsky's Solaris and Stalker.
Recommended by Facebook's Solarpunk Anarchist, who said of it that "It's not solarpunk, but it is a fascinating case of ecological science-fiction with a distinctly non-anthropocentric take on its material." The film is also touched on in the anarchysf podcast centring on the VanderMeer novel.
Spoof travel-guide to the utopian island of Sonsorol, combining ideas from various libertarian strands.
Unusual tale featuring an alien species known as the Bands, embodied as colourful spinning rings powered by magnetism. Their society is quintessentially both anarchist and pacifist, with no concept of authority and such horror at violence that even the thought of it is prone to causing spontaneous self-destruction. Noted by a poster to Facebook's Sci-Fi Libertarian Socialist, in 2016.
Short story saluting the 2017 anti-fracking rail blockade at Olympia, Washington, from the perspective of our descendants a thousand years hence. The piece is discussed at some length in Francis Hines's 2021 PhD thesis 'Evading representation: the literature of contemporary U.S. anarchism'.
Short (6min) anti-Trump SF spoof from Uruguay, shared on Facebook's Anarchists and Science Fiction page.
Dramatisation of the near disaster of the Apollo 13 lunar mission. Convincing and suspenseful, even though the ending's so familiar.
A comment on reason.com's The libertarian film festival says "Yes, I know that NASA is a tax-funded bureaucracy; nevertheless, A13 is the only movie I've ever seen in which the main protagonist is human intelligence."
Drilling workers are sent by NASA to deflect an asteroid on a collision course with Earth, their mission being to bury a nuclear device deep enough to blow the asteroid apart.
Jon Osborne (see bibliography) includes a review of this film, saying:
There are several aspects of this story that will appeal to libertarians. First, it has something of the creator-as-hero theme. [. . .] Second, there are numerous small conflicts between his skilled workers and their government handlers, in which the workers are always right. [. . .] And finally, when the team agrees to save the planet, the chief compensation they demand is that they be free of taxation for the rest of their lives!
This short story, published in Freedom in two parts in March and April 1935, recounts a dream of a prisoner at the bar defending his throwing a bomb at an Anarchist Committee in the 1980s. He did it to attack the hypocrisy of those who profess anarchism but fail to live as anarchists. A moral tale, it just scrapes in here as, by its future setting, marginal sf.
Solarpunk first novel by a writer from Quebec, who describes it as "a standalone novel sitting firmly between dystopia and solarpunk and centering LGBTQIAP+ characters", and a hopeful story "about overcoming desperate odds, nemesis working together, and larger-than-life characters". It was plugged by Facebook's Solarpunk Anarchist in December 2017.
Pretty much what the title says, the anthology is overwhelmingly fantasy, though with a solarpunk cast.
T.X. Watson, interviewed for Obsolete, found the mix "really cool".
In this obscure story from Science Fantasy an individual rebels against the destruction of an alien city by earth colonists; he is "stabilized". Pilgrim in 1963 saw it as "a horribly effective warning against a too enthusiastic worship of science."
Anarchist opinions on the Foundation trilogy have been divided: Pilgrim wrote in 1963 that "The theme of Isaac Asimov's Foundation trilogy, Violence is the last resort of the incompetent, is indicative of the general science fiction writer's attitude to war." (Pilgrim 1963: 369) It 'rams home repeatedly the argument that "violence is the last resort of the incompetent." In Peace News in 1966 he added: "Readers of this paper may well argue that violence is the first resort of the incompetent too, but the fact remains that Asimov is adopting an anti-war attitude.' (Pilgrim 1966) Eagle, too, was less than impressed: "Isaac Asimov, in his several novels about Galactic civilisation (the Foundation series and others) can think of nothing better than a depressing Galactic Empire." (Eagle 1969: 2) There is some truth in this—the two Foundations, opposed to the Empire, themselves constitute a scientific elite, the nucleus of the next ruling class. The near-mythic Hari Seldon, whose Plan the Foundations act out, had no doubt of his position:
"Even if the Empire were admitted to be a bad thing (an admission I do not make), the state of anarchy which would follow its fall would be worse. It is that state of anarchy which my project is pledged to fight." (Foundation: 27, Panther edn)
'The Dead Past' is Asimov's most notable treatment of 'intellectual anarchy'; it involves a discussion of the ethics of suppressing a 'chronoscope', a device for viewing the past, and the political control of research. The reader is initially encouraged to side with Potterley and Foster, both repeatedly described as "intellectual anarchists", against the government; but Asimov finally sides with Araman, for the government—
. . . "you all just took it for granted that the government was stupidly bureaucratic, vicious, tyrannical, given to suppressing research for the hell of it. It never occurred to any of you that we were trying to protect mankind as best we could." (The Best of Isaac Asimov: 246)
All in all it is a strong statist, and specifically anti-anarchist, parable.
Adaptation of the 1957 Ayn Rand novel; parts II and III were released in 2012 and 2014 respectively.
Brian Doherty, of Reason magazine, noted that while "the early reactions from Randians has been positive, with adulation from Rand’s closest friends and disciples during the years she wrote Atlas", by the same token, "some people who don’t care for Rand have also hated the film." This is entirely to be expected, given the way Rand divides opinion. I suspect that many readers of this page will be in the latter camp.
Centres on members of a teenage street gang who have to defend themselves from a Guy Fawkes Night attack by predatory alien invaders on a council estate tower block in south London.
Reviewed by Tom Jennings in Freedom in November 2011, who enjoyed this "witty, engaging homage to cult alien invasion films", and appreciated its "in