Welcome to anarchySF!

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!


Douglas Adams // The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy series


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.

W.D. Richter // The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension!


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.

Yakov Protazanov // Aelita


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.

Peter Chung // Æon Flux

(1991 - 1995)

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.

Pretentious twaddle.

Walter R. Booth // Aerial Anarchists


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, 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).

Katsuhiro Otomo // Akira


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."

Ale Damiani // Aparato


Short (6min) anti-Trump SF spoof from Uruguay, shared on Facebook's Anarchists and Science Fiction page.

Brian W. Aldiss // Earthworks (1975); Barefoot in the Head (1969); Intangibles, Inc. (1969); 'Down the Up Escalator' (1970)


"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).

Brian W. Aldiss & Harry Harrison // The Penguin Omnibus of Science Fiction

(1973; originally published as three separate anthologies, from 1961–1964)

Remarked on favourably by D.P. (see bibliography) in 1986.

Brian W. Aldiss, in collaboration with Roger Penrose // White Mars; or, The Mind Set Free. A 21st-Century Utopia (1999)


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!"

Matthew Bruce Alexander // Wĭthûr Wē


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.

Ridley Scott // Alien


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.

James Cameron // Aliens


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.

J. Neil Schulman // Alongside Night


Film version of the novel, directed by the author.
Distinctly poor, and really only for the agorist converted.

Jean-Luc Godard // Alphaville


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.

Zainab Amadahy // The Moons of Palmares


Recommended by Common Action at the panel "Beyond The Dispossessed: Anarchism and Science Fiction" at the Seattle Anarchist Bookfair in October 2009.

Jacques Doillon, Alain Resnais and Jean Rouch // L'An 01


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.
Included in the CIRA filmography (see bibliography).

Anarchy Comics


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.

M.T. Anderson // Feed


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.

Poul Anderson // 'The Star Beast' (1950); 'Security Risk' (1957); 'For the Duration' (1957); 'The Last of the Deliverers' (1958; revised version 1976); 'No Truce with Kings' (1963); Trader to the Stars (1964); The Star Fox (1965); The Winter of the World (1976); The Stars Are Also Fire (1994)


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.

Johann Valentin Andreae // Christianopolis

(1619; originally published in Latin as Reipublicae Christianopolitanae Descriptio)

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.

Koji Morimoto, Shinichiro Watanabe, Mahiro Maeda, Peter Chung, Andy Jones, Yoshiaki Kawajiri, and Takeshi Koike // The Animatrix


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.

anon // 'Visit Port Watson!' (in Rucker, Wilson & Wilson, eds: Semiotext(e) SF


Spoof travel-guide to the utopian island of Sonsorol, combining ideas from various libertarian strands.

Piers Anthony // Viscous Circle


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.

Ron Howard // Apollo 13


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."

Michael Bay // Armageddon


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 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!

E. Armand // 'The Nightmare'


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.

Claudie Arsenault // Viral Airwaves


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.

Claudie Arsenault and Brenda J. Pierson, eds // Wings of Renewal. A Solarpunk Dragon Anthology


Pretty much what the title says, the anthology is overwhelmingly fantasy, though with a solarpunk cast.
T.X. Watson, interviewed for
, found the mix "really cool".

John Ashcroft // 'Stone and Crystal'


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."

Isaac Asimov // Foundation trilogy (1952–1953); 'The Dead Past' (1956)


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.

Paul Johansson // Atlas Shrugged: Part I


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.

Joe Cornish // Attack the Block


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 "intensive local research and an impressive ensemble of street-cast youngsters," but felt that ". . . the chances for deeper meaningful connections to be made between contemporary class stratification and the predicaments which dominate impoverished urban existence are obliterated in Ali G-style comic relief, scoffing at stereotypically clichéd tentative self-criticisms which are never followed up. Strictly segregating which and whose understandings have import and practical significance rather than entertainment value, Attack the Block thus has far more in common with the safe conservatism of Spielbergian spectacle . . . "

Margaret Atwood // The Handmaid's Tale (1985); Oryx and Crake (2003)


The Handmaid's Tale is included in Zeke Teflon's Favorite Anarchist Science Fiction Novels, though he describes it as "More speculative social fiction than science fiction." Zakk Flash, on the Facebook Anarchism and Science Fiction Forum, considers it a "Wonderful, wonderful book."
Oryx and Crake is on the Think Galactic reading list, and is also recommended by Left Bank Books.

James Cameron // Avatar


Set in the mid-22nd century, when humans are colonizing Pandora, a lush habitable moon in the Alpha Centauri system, in order to mine the mineral 'unobtanium', a room-temperature superconductor. The expansion of the mining colony threatens the continued existence of a local tribe of the Na'vi, a humanoid species indigenous to Pandora. Jake Sully is part of a team seeking to establish contact with the Na'vi and, in avatar form, is inducted into a local tribe. But when his corporate handlers use his information in a violent campaign of clearance he leads a successful resistance movement, with the help of a handful of human defectors, and uploads his consciousness to reside permanently in his avatar body.
The film has been of particular interest to anarcho-primitivists. Layla AbdelRahim entitled her 2009 review 'Avatar: An Anarcho-Primitivist Picture of the History of the World'. For her "the film’s logic has anarcho-primitivism stamped in every scene", but she sees as a problem "that to relate the story, Cameron uses the same machines, technologies and money that devastate the wilderness he tells us we need to save." John Zerzan recommended AbdelRahim's review in his 2009-12-29 Anarcho Radio TV video, and the film was under discussion again during each of Zerzan's next five weekly broadcasts.
For Red River Radical Avatar is "hardly more than a remixed Dances With Wolves; a watered down anti-colonization story in which a white male is still the hero after his remake into the indigenous other. Avatar’s story revolves around a typical teenage American romance; same gender roles, heteronormative and weirdly middle class." The article author sees it as another example of Hollywood dumbing down.
In Glenn's 'Film as Subversion', his essay in the 2015 BASTARD Chronicles, he argues that "What makes a film subversive is determined by how well it challenges a narrative; what makes a film propaganda is reinforcing a narrative." For Glenn, Avatar is propaganda, as it "simply celebrates a Green/Indigenous narrative."


Paolo Bacigalupi // Pump Six and Other Stories (2008); The Windup Girl (2009); The Water Knife (2014)


At worldbuilding.stackexchange.com, 'recognizer' suggests that, leaving aside his environmental and technological themes, in The Windup Girl and other works, Bacigalupi "often addresses the conflicts between state power and private (corporate or individual) power, and how these power relationships affect his protagonists." Andrew Dana Hudson sees The Windup Girl as a vision of "solarpunk-gone-wrong". Teflon includes it in his Essential Novels, where he describes it as "Antiauthoritarian and anti-corporatist, but not specifically anarchist." It was recommended in a panel discussion between Rudy Rucker, Terry Bisson and John Shirley at the 2012 San Francisco anarchist book fair. It's also included in the Think Galactic reading list, as is Pump Six and Other Stories.
The Water Knife is a bleak portrayal of a future of extreme drought, centring on Phoenix, Arizona, summarised by Andrew Dana Hudson as "In the American southwest permanent drought is making refugees out of everyone who can’t afford to buy a place in a verdant, self-sustaining arcology. This world is solarpunk for some. It is what happens if we allow capitalism to dictate the distribution of sustainable technologies." Though recommended by Zeke Teflon in his 2015 Sharp and Pointed review, as "a very well told story with well drawn characters and an unusual and spot-on social and economic subtext," Teflon, as a Phoenix resident, takes issue with the author's apparent ignorance of the actual city, and argues that Bacigalupi's anticipations of the level of future water shortage in the southwest are overstated, although "it does alert readers to the seriousness of the problems".

Francis Bacon // New Atlantis: A Work Unfinished


Short piece of utopian speculation, described by SFE as "a remarkably accurate assessment of the potential of the scientific renaissance."
Citing this work, Bob Black describes Bacon as "technology's first enthusiast." Berneri devotes eleven pages to the piece.

Patrick Bair // The Tribunal


The Tribunal is a lightweight near-future political thriller, involving the declaration of independence of Acquitaine and the attempted destruction of the leaning tower of Pisa; the anarchists, who also smuggle arms into Acquitaine, saw the leaning tower as a symbol of government because, although it will eventually fall, its fall can be accelerated by gunpowder.

Ian Ballantine


Founder of the SF publishing company Ballantine Books, Ian Ballantine was the great-nephew of anarchist Emma Goldman.

J.G. Ballard // The Wind from Nowhere (1962); The Drowned World (1962); The Drought (1965); The Crystal World (1966); The Atrocity Exhibition (1970); Crash (1973); Millennium People (2003)


Ballard's first four novels centre on elemental disasters and, with the exception of the first, successfully transcend the run-of-the-mill. For Vittorio Curtoni, Ballard, "inspired by pictorial surrealism, preached the investigation of 'inner space, i.e. of those connections at the unconscious level which revealed the mechanisms of the human psyche, and translated the idea in a series of brilliant novels [ . . . ] and stories" (25); he only named these four. For one poster to Facebook's Anarchists and Science Fiction page, "The Drowned World perfectly matches many contemporary ideas regarding what the world might be like after decades of climate change."
Michael Moorcock's 1978 article in the Cienfuegos Press Anarchist Review singles out The Atrocity Exhibition and Crash for inclusion among books which in his view promote libertarian ideas. He comments that they have "brought criticisms of 'nihilism' against him" (43). Both works are innovatory in sf, and have an impersonal and amoral quality which perhaps gives rise to such criticisms. They are libertarian in the sense of challenging orthodoxy, of iconoclasm. Crash is described as "seminal" in a 2013 editorial in the Occupied Times.
For Ricardo Feral, The Drought, and The Atrocity Exhibition provide "a haunting, introspective alternative to the the mainstream media vision of society."
Millennium People features a very British rebellion by the jaded middle class. Darkly humorous, it's included in the Swindon Anarchist Group's list of Anarchist/Resistance Novels.

Iain M. Banks // Culture series—Consider Phlebas (1987), The Player of Games (1988), The State of the Art (1989; expanded as a collection 1991), Use of Weapons (1990), Excession (1996), Inversions (1998); Look to Windward (2000), Matter (2008), Surface Detail (2010), The Hydrogen Sonata (2012)


This popular series showcases an implicitly anarchist post-scarcity society, enabled by nanotechnology. Banks himself said, of the Culture, "Essentially, the contention is that our currently dominant power systems cannot long survive in space; beyond a certain technological level a degree of anarchy is arguably inevitable and anyway preferable." More specifically, he argued that "the mutuality of dependence involved in an environment which is inherently hostile would necessitate an internal social coherence which would contrast with the external casualness typifying the relations between such ships/habitats. Succinctly; socialism within, anarchy without." Politically, "one of the few rules the Culture adheres to with any exactitude at all is that a person's access to power should be in inverse proportion to their desire for it." ['A Few Notes on the Culture']
According to the 2014 Bottled Wasp Pocket Diary "A non-anarchist, he has been one of the few such to approach depicting a real (if imaginary) anarchist society with any conviction or accuracy, although a significant number of anarchists might dispute that statement."
Of Look to Windward, Wikipedia notes 'This book deals with the themes of exile, bereavement, religious justification of mass violence against humanity/sentience in war, and the mores associated with life within a technologically and energetically unlimited anarchist utopia.'
All these novels are included in Zeke Teflon's Favorite Anarchist Science Fiction Novels, though he particularly recommends The Player of Games and Surface Detail. McKay enjoyed all the Culture books, finding only Matter disappointing, with Surface Detail the most fun. In my own view, Inversions is the most unusual, but perhaps the most subtle.

The title novella forming the greater part of the State of the Art collection is of particular interest, for two reasons: it is in some ways the most accessible of the Culture series, by its explicit contrast with an Earth of the 1970s and, as the SFE puts it, "for the only time, it openly advocates some aspects of the Culture as a model for human behaviour."

For the anonymous author of 'Beyond Perfection',
"The point of this anarchist utopia [i.e. the Culture] is not that there’s some ignored power relation at work that compromises its integrity, or even that you can have too much of a good thing. It’s a more subtle and complex message about inertia and entropy, of the nature of power and privilege, and the need for change and development, personal and societal, even in the face of seeming perfection."

For Martin H., writing in Workers Solidarity in 2000, "Banks clearly knew his anarchism", and the Culture series "flesh out what it might be like to live in an anarchist society."

John Barnes // The Man who Pulled down the Sky


". . . full of crypto-Anarchism', according to a poster to anarchysf. 'The dominant space colony is organized into IWW divisions so to speak. Each group of seven lives together makes communal decisions and lives bisexually with each other as a family unit comprised of seven. The main character is sent back to Earth to start an uprising that is organized along anarcho-communal lines against the Earth Administration."
This description is nonsense. The book is barely coherent, and has no bearing on anarchism whatsoever.

Robert Barr // 'The Chemistry of Anarchy' in The Face and the Mask


Feeble story of cowardly anarchists.

Max Barry // Jennifer Government


A dystopian view of a world entirely run by ruthless global corporations in murderous competition, with government functions privatised and marginalised.
'This isn't freedom, John. It's anarchy.' 'Well,' John said, 'if you're going to split hairs—'
A very entertaining black comedy.

John M. Batchelor // A Strange People


Lost race utopia of atheists and anarchists.

Tim Burton // Batman


Batman is widely believed to be an urban legend until he takes on a rising criminal mastermind known as the Joker.
Dan Clore posted Robert Anton Wilson's film review "Have You Ever Danced With the Devil in the Pale Moonlight?" to the anarchy-sf mailing list in 2005; Wilson considered Batman "an anarcho-surrealist attack on the conventions of mass market melodrama".

Michael Rymer, developed by Ronald D. Moore // Battlestar Galactica; TV miniseries and four seasons, totalling 75 episodes

(2003 and 2004/2009)

Acclaimed and successful re-envisioning of a poor 1978 series of the same name.
Post-anarchist academic Lewis Call has written two papers on this series: 'Crisis of Authority Aboard the Battlestar Galactica,' in New Perspectives on Anarchism (2010) ed. Nathan J. Jun and Shane Wahl; and 'Death, Sex and the Cylon: Living authentically on Battlestar Galactica,' in Science Fiction Film and Television vol. 5, no. 1 (2012). Neither is readily available.

Barrington J. Bayley // Annihilation Factor (1964); The Soul of the Robot (1974)


Annihilation Factor includes the character Castor Krakhno, based on Nestor Makhno. (Dan Clore). Included in Killjoy's list of stories (see bibliography) that feature sympathetic anarchist characters. The Krakhno character, however, is largely a caricature 19th century villainous anarchist, about whom even the author seems ambivalent. The anarchism, such as it is, is both nihilist and individualist.
"I admire Barrington J. Bayley, whose stories are often extremely abstract. One of the most enjoyable recently published is The Soul of the Robot which discusses the nature of individual identity." (Moorcock 1978) The novel concerns the quest of the robot Jasperodus for his own identity—is his consciousness real or fake, has he a soul? He has, but not a constructed one. Although the reader takes pleasure in Jasperodus's refusal to take orders and insistence that he alone is the initiator of his deeds, he himself is no more to be admired in his ethical behaviour than his would-be masters; and the excess of palace intrigue detracts from the undoubted interest of some of the book's philosophical discussions.

Edward Bellamy // Looking Backward 2000–1887 (1888); Equality (1897)


In Bellamy's influential utopia Looking Backward the economy of the future United States is highly organized, workers being organized in an industrial army. We learn that
"Almost the sole function of the administration now is that of directing the industries of the country. Most of the purposes for which governments formerly existed no longer remain to be subserved. We have no army or navy, and no military organization. We have no departments of state or treasury, no excise or revenue services, no taxes or tax collectors. The only function proper of government, as known to you, which still remains, is the judiciary and police system." (Signet Classic edn: 143-4)

Bellamy takes this further in Equality:
"A government in the sense of a co-ordinating directory of our associated industries we shall always need, but that is practically all the government we have now. It used to be a dream of philosophers that the world would some time enjoy such a reign of reason and justice that men would be able to live together without laws. That condition, so far as concerns punitive and coercive regulations, we have practically attained. As to compulsory laws, we might be said to live almost in a state of anarchy." (1933 Appleton-Century edn: 409)

This sounds well enough; but, as Marie-Louise Berneri put it,
"Bellamy's state socialism allows a greater degree of personal freedom than most other utopias based on the same principles. But it is the freedom which might be granted to soldiers once they have been conscripted; no provision is made for 'conscientious objectors' (249).

While Looking Backward and its sequel are not in themselves anarchist, they nevertheless attracted the interest of Peter Kropotkin himself. He reviewed the first at great length (extending over four issues) in Le Révolté at the end of 1889, noting that "Bellamy's ideal is not ours. But he helps to clarify our own ideas; on many points, without intending to, he confirms them." (Pt 1:1). He concluded: "Whatever may be the defects of this little book, it will always have done the immense service of suggesting ideas and giving matter for discussion for those who really wish for the social Revolution." (Pt 4:2). Lest there be any doubt, though, he stated right at the start of his article that "Bellamy n'est pas anarchiste" (Pt 1:1). Kropotkin found Equality certainly not so interesting, but superior in that it analyses "all the vices of the capitalistic system. . . so admirably that I know of no other Socialist work on this subject that equals Bellamy's Equality." These remarks on Equality come from Kropotkin's obituary notice of Bellamy in Freedom, translated from Les Temps Nouveaux. His final considered opinion:
What a pity that Bellamy has not lived longer! He would have produced other excellent books. I am positive that were Bellamy to have met an Anarchist who could have explained to him our ideal, he would have accepted it. The authoritarianism which he introduced into his Utopia was useless there and contradictory to the very system. It was simply a survival, a concession, a tribute to the past.

Coline Serreau // La Belle Verte


On a tiny Earth-like alien planet, the decision is taken to send a volunteer to Earth. Earth is seen as backward by the seemingly human aliens, and at first no-one wants to volunteer. One woman eventually raises her hand, curious because her mother was from Earth. The visit to Earth portrays the Paris of the present, but she is later joined by her two sons who initially land in Australia and are given a warm reception by aboriginal people whom the sons instantly take to as far more advanced (as in tune with their environment) than the western world encountered by their mother. The middle segment of the film tells the story of the visit to Earth, the first and third acts depicting life on the alien planet, which is quite idyllic and very solarpunk anarchist. The film is a delightful family comedy, with gentle satiric fun at the expense of the unenlightened Earthlings.
Included in the Anarchist Studies Network's Anarchist filmography, and listed as a utopian film at Black Flag Blog's Anarchism and film.

Hilaire Belloc // But Soft—We Are Observed


This light political satire hangs on a mistaken identity / pursuit story. By 1979 "The parliaments of the Great Powers had long ago settled down into two sober parties, Communist on the right and Anarchist on the left, who between them maintained the Majestic Rotation of Representative Government . . . " (Arrowsmith edn: 57) Lady Caroline Balcombe, the Foreign Secretary, had said in a famous statement of 1952:
"I am as profoundly attached to Anarchy, and to all the principles of Anarchy, as any woman or man here present. But the only Anarchy I know is an Anarchy to be achieved by Constitutional Means." (87)

Clearly this shouldn't be taken too seriously; however it is suggestive of the durability of political institutions and their ability to absorb dissent.

Gregory Benford


In 1980 Benford said, in an interview with Charles Platt, that
. . . many social issues could be solved by simple rational planning—I don't mean top-down planning, but by using the adroitness and competitive spirit of the small scale. In that sense, I'm sort of an unvarnished capitalist, not because I believe in the ownership of things, but because I believe small units are useful. You could as easily call me an anarchist. (Platt 1980: 285)

Donald E. Bensen // And Having Writ . . .


Alien astronauts crashland on Earth in 1908 causing, in the original universe (ours), the Tungus meteorite phenomenon. They represent themselves as ambassadors from a galactic empire, whilst actually only wishing to speed up technological progress in order to repair their craft, and have various escapades with H.G. Wells, Rasputin, Theodore Roosevelt, etc. And Having Writ . . . is not really in any way anarchist, but it does present a delightful satire of Earthly ways, and it gently mocks a variety of authority figures. All in all, great fun.

Marie Louise Berneri // Journey through Utopia


Berneri was an Italian-born anarchist, a member of the group centred on the newspaper Freedom and its stable-mates, and one of the four editors of War Commentary tried in 1945 for incitement to disaffection, but acquitted as her husband Vernon Richards was a co-defendant, and legally she couldn't conspire with him. She died in childbirth aged just 31.
Her notable survey of utopias was published the year after her death. Although much of the survey reviews the familiar historical utopias, she also looked at more recent utopian (and dystopian) works, including Lytton's The Coming Race, Bellamy's Looking Backward, Morris's News from Nowhere, Wells's A Modern Utopia and Men Like Gods, Zamyatin's We, and Huxley's Brave New World (Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four being published too late for inclusion).
A new edition of Journey through Utopia was reviewed by Geoffrey Ostergaard in Freedom in August 1982. The latest edition was published by PM Press in 2019, with a new introduction and afterword, and a postscript by Kim Stanley Robinson.

Louky Bersianik // The Euguélionne


Part 3 appears to express anarchist sympathies (feministsf.org). Included in Killjoy's list (see bibliography) of stories that feature sympathetic anarchist characters.
It's stretching a point to consider this sf, though. It's a feminist manifesto, objectivised as the viewpoint of a visiting alien.

Alfred Bester // The Demolished Man (1953); The Stars My Destination (a.k.a. Tiger! Tiger!) (1956)


John Pilgrim wrote:
On a more popular level a libertarian idea is often thrown away casually with no real discussion, nevertheless its presence can alter the slant of the book. Alfred Bester's The Demolished Man, for instance. This is a science fiction detective story set at a period when telepathy has become an accepted power for a large part of the population and psychotherapeutic techniques are much further advanced than at present. People like the hero/villain Reich who want a return to the 20th Century system of power politics are regarded as sick people and treated as such. At the end of the book this conversation occurs: "Three or four hundred years ago the cops used to catch people like Reich just to kill them. Capital punishment they called it [. . .] But it doesn't make sense. If a man's got the guts and talent to buck society he's obviously above average . . . You want to turn him into a plus value . . . Why throw him away? Do that enough times and all you have left are the sheep". "I don't know. Maybe in those days they wanted sheep".

This particular novel, a popular entertainment mind, not a philosophical dissertation, ends in an outburst from one of the protagonists in which the following words occur: ". . . there is nothing in man but love and faith and courage, kindness, generosity and sacrifice. All else is but the barrier of your blindness . . ." Such lines may not be brilliant, or new to the readers of this journal {Freedom}, perhaps, but they are surely a new thing in popular fiction. (Pilgrim 1963)

The Demolished Man isn't quite the libertarian novel that Pilgrim suggests. The future society shown, though it can redeem 'criminals', still has all the trappings of the state and capitalism; and telepathy, for all its potential to spread sympathy and understanding, is principally shown as just a new weapon in the armoury of repression.
Of The Stars My Destination Moorcock wrote: "This is one of the very few libertarian SF novels I have ever read. That it was the first and turned me on to reading SF is probably the purest accident. [. . .] I know of no other SF book which so thoroughly combines romance with an idealism almost wholly acceptable to me . . ." (Moorcock 1978: 43). He particularly commends the conclusion in which the hero, Gully Foyle, delivers PyrE, the ultimate weapon, to the outcasts of the Earth, for them to repossess their future. Foyle justifies himself: "'Who are we, any of us, to make a decision for the world? Let the world make its own decisions. Who are we to keep secrets from the world? Let the world know and decide for itself.'" (Penguin edn, p. 242) The book won the Libertarian Futurist Society Hall of Fame Award in 1988. For Evan Lampe, the book reminds him "of the need, from time to time, to embrace those systemic shocks that may not promise permanent freedom but do create spaces for autonomy."

Eando Binder // 'Giants of Anarchy'


Dire pulp story, originally published in Weird Tales, in the June-July issue of 1939. The principal character travels 10,000 years into the future, and finds that the world has become an Anarchy. But in this case all it means is that, following the release of limitless atomic power, evolution tended in the direction of a diminishing population, as "better minds saw no reason for allowing poorer, duller minds to exist, and warred on them". With the demise of government, the survivors spend all their time duelling in giant battle-machines, apparently for want of anything better to do, while at the same time all concepts of love and friendship have been forgotten. The hero, his girlfriend, and her scientist father have no difficulty in convincing everyone to "forget their differences and live with one another peacefully", claiming that they will "found a new co-operative union here in this mad world of Anarchy!"

Terry Bisson // Fire on the Mountain (1988); TVA Baby and other stories (2011)


Fire on the Mountain is socialist rather than anarchist, but is an astonishingly convincing alternate history predicated on John Brown's success in the raid at Harper's Ferry in 1859. Of very real interest. It has recently been reviewed in the Winter 2019 Fifth Estate by RB, who finds fault with Bisson's understanding of the true history of the raid, and dislikes what he sees as "Bisson's utopia: a technocratic mega-state that valorizes total domination of nature."

TVA Baby was recommended in Zeke Teflon's review: "If you enjoy concise writing and mordant humor, you’ll enjoy TVA Baby."

In 2010 Terry Bisson moderated a workshop, and in 2012 spoke on 'The Left Left Behind', at the Bay Area Anarchist Bookfair. Rudy Rucker, Terry Bisson and John Shirley were on a panel on Anarchism and Science Fiction at the 2012 Bay Area Anarchist Bookfair, which is available as a podcast on Rucker's website. When asked directly, in an interview published in his PM Press The Left Left Behind plus, how he felt about anarchism, Bisson's response was: "As an idea I like it. But I am a big government guy. I'm a TVA baby. Still a Democrat."

Charlie Brooker // Black Mirror

(2011/2013, 2014, 2016→)

Superlative near-future anthology series, each episode free-standing, with different casts.
One contributor to the Facebook Anarchism and Science Fiction Forum in 2015 said she'd been "overwhelmed with the political and philosophical issues raised on the show." And one answer to a Quora query on "How would an anarchist society deal with crime?" cited Black Mirror as a "quite chilling" example of one solution.

Ryan Coogler // Black Panther


Superhero film with a predominantly black cast, and with strong women characters. While it can be seen as Afrofuturism, and as sending strong messages about diversity and empowerment, and while it has drawn positive comments on Facebook's Anarchist Solarpunk and Sci-Fi Libertarian Socialist pages, I found it quite disappointing: while supposedly depicting Africa in a progressive way, it spends as much time presenting traditional tribal images and rituals as it does in demonstrating the technological superiority of the Wakandan state; the story line is corny as hell, and is depressingly centred on elite struggles for supremacy in a traditional monarchy; and the tokenistic conclusion in which the king finally agrees to share some of Wakanda's wealth with African Americans in Oakland altogether fails to redeem the film from its desperate conventionality. I'm not familiar with the comic books from which the film is derived, but surely the film betrays its pulpy origin. It comes across as a rehash of SF stories of the 1920s and 1930s (if not earlier). Full marks for casting, but F for failure of imagination. Well, to be charitable, it might be OK for kids.
The film was reviewed in Fifth Estate in Summer 2018, by Matthew Lucas, who considers its place in the history of Hollywood's "attempted recuperation of black-produced black images":
When reduced, the film's embrace of an autocratic ruler allied with the CIA willingly funneling resources to the West, does not depict a new future for Majority World nations populated by people of color. It depicts the one already created by imperialist intervention.

But he concludes that "Black Panther nevertheless could expand avenues of portraying blackness on the big screen."

Ridley Scott // Blade Runner

(1982, final cut 2007)

Based on the Philip K. Dick novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, the film depicts a dystopian Los Angeles in which genetically engineered android replicants are banned on Earth, but used for dangerous or menial work on off-world colonies. Replicants who defy the ban and come to Earth are hunted down and killed by special police operatives known as 'blade runners'. The plot focuses on a group of recently escaped replicants hiding in LA and a burnt-out expert blade runner who reluctantly agrees to take on one more assignment to hunt them down. Whether or not the blade runner is himself a replicant is uncertain, forcing an evaluation of what it means to be human.
The 2014 Anarchism SubReddit thread on films advocating anti-capitalism features an interesting discussion between two contributors: one recommending Blade Runner, the other describing the film as "merely dystopian corporatism". The former rejoins that "the dystopian realm of Blade Runner is something which is overwhelmingly repulsive, and it achieves this style by doing nothing but extrapolating the effects of our current society. Surely then, it is at the very least portraying the negatives of capitalism in a subconscious manner?"
Two contributors to the FB Anarchism and Science Fiction Forum in 2016 included this film among their shortlists of the best SF ever committed to film.
Matthew Lucas, in his Fifth Estate review of the film's sequel, observed that the 1982 film "had largely written out much of Dick's political and ecological concerns."

Denis Villeneuve // Blade Runner 2049


A young blade runner seeks out the elusive former blade runner Rick Deckard, after uncovering a mystery concerning a replicant who had apparently given birth.
Reviewed for the Anarcho-Geek Review by Margaret Killjoy, who loved the cinematography, but deplored its misogyny, saying the real story was about women, yet it was the two male blade runners who were the narrative focus: ". . . what got me, what sat under my skin and left me uncomfortable for an entire day, is just how goddammed many interesting themes about women, trans and cis alike, could and should have been explored in Blade Runner 2049." Similarly Matthew Lucas, who reviewed the film for Fifth Estate #400, in Spring 2018, also drew attention to its "repugnant misogyny," finding it "as limited and lacking in vision as its predecessor—especially in respect to the roles of women in its posthuman future'.

Terry Nation // Blake's Seven


The exploits of a political dissident who leads a small group of rebels against the forces of the totalitarian Terran Federation that rules Earth and its colonies.
The series was much enjoyed by one poster to the old anarchysf mailing list back in 2000, for whom as a teenager it had been their favourite TV series: "It had a very '80s hopeless end-of-the world feel to it, almost gothic."
Seen by Sharp and Pointed as "Great political sci-fi", "which despite its awful FX succeeded because of the strength of its plots and dark, complex characters".

James Blish // A Case of Conscience (1953); They Shall Have Stars (1955)


A Case of Conscience was discussed by John Pilgrim in his 1963 Anarchy article, for its ethical dimension. The society portrayed, though described by the author as Christian, beyond which Pilgrim himself doesn't venture, is in many ways anarchistic—an austere kind of Godwinian anarchism, its ethical system rooted in nature, as Godwin argued. For Evan Lampe, "The main anarchist themes in this work seem to revolve around the potential for a working anarchist utopia. Lithia lacks governments and moral codes. They even sustain a scientific and technological society without the rise of a technocracy."

Pilgrim also looked at They Shall Have Stars: though he found the plot banal, he considered the novel "a powerful attack on authoritarianism, power politics, and the evils of the military mind's concept of security." (p. 365). This is perhaps somewhat overstated.

Mahiro Maeda // Blue Submarine No. 6 (青の6号)


On a distant future Earth, in which the oceans have flooded most of the planet, and most of humankind has been destroyed, submarine forces wage war against a demented scientist and his hybrid marine beings, whom he intends as our successors.
Seen by Connor Owens at solarpunkanarchists.com as an ecological reflection on the human species's capacity for destruction, and on whether a post-human world might be "for us death, but for you, a utopia".

Alexander Bogdanov // Red Star


Socialist utopia on Mars, written by an early Bolshevik not long after the 1905 revolution.
Suggested by a couple of contributors to Facebook's Anarchism and Science Fiction Forum, one of whom perceives points of similarity to Le Guin's The Dispossessed. Of only peripheral interest here.

Lizzie Borden // Born in Flames


Strongly feminist documentary-style film, cheaply filmed on 16 mm and video, set in a near future social-democratic America. Two women's groups running pirate radio stations turn to direct action after their premises are burned out.
Richard Porton, in his Film and the Anarchist Imagination, devotes four pages to an analysis of Born in Flames, finding it, "despite its dystopian scenario, a more optimistic evocation of contemporary currents within anarcho-feminism". He further notes that "From a broader historical vantage point, her fantasia on anarchist themes recapitulates debates between anarchism and social-democratic antagonists such as George Bernard Shaw." Porton found that the film "proved most scandalous, both within the feminist movement and outside it, by resisting the temptation to condemn definitively the use of revolutionary violence." This he sees as a "strategic provocation", in the context of the celebration of the Greenham Common pacifist activism of the time by many radical women who "ascribed to women a state of natural non-violence" which Borden found "dubiously essentialist."
Shown at the film festival that formed part of the Boston anarchist bookfair in 2011, the programme for which describes it as exploring racism, classism, sexism and heterosexism. Shown as part of the if I can’t dance to it, it’s not my revolution exhibition at Haverford, Pennsylvania, curated by Natalie Musteata in 2014, who described it as both "The movie that rocked the foundations of the early Indie film world" and "The film that heralded the arrival of Queer Cinema". Also screened by the Toronto Anarchist Reading Group in July 2016. Also shown in 2017 at a 3-day anarchist mini-film festival in Petersham, Sydney, Australia; the blurb says the film "suggests the insufficiency of a radicalism that restricts itself to politics."
Brian Bergen-Aurand lists the film as number 3 in his great anarchist movies that are worth your time, saying "The film emphasizes alternative aesthetics, direct (rather than representative) democracy, and women’s roles in what is deemed as 'necessary violence.'"
Lizzie Borden, when asked if she was comfortable with being described as an anarcha-feminist, replied:
I’m comfortable with it by process of elimination because I never quite figured out what it is, but I feel closer to it than any other political identification. I’m so critical of any kind of organized left wing just because of bureaucracy really becoming another class, and the relationship of women to whatever organized left there is. So, the idea of anarchism has always appealed to me simply because it’s always calling into question that which is. I somehow see anarchism as that. I see it as not necessarily excluding different political identifications. For example, on one issue it might be possible to side with a socialist stance, on another issue a very Western stance. But the thing about anarchism is that it allows you not to have to be over-programmed. The other thing is about feminists. What gets me now is people saying that they’re not feminist anymore. Feminism is such a mild word for how I consider myself, that I’m absolutely a feminist. Anarcha-feminism to me has always been about stirring things up. You try to constantly ask those questions which will prevent stasis from setting in. Even at the expense of sometimes being seen as contradictory or saying things that go against what you said a year before or a minute before. For me it’s a process. We all know what’s wrong with Western capitalism and we all know what’s wrong with the extreme left, so anarcha-feminism—it just seems to be the only viable identification, if one is to identify at all.
Included in the CIRA filmography (see bibliography).

Pierre Boulle // La Planète des Singes (Monkey Planet / Planet of the Apes)


A Quora user included this in their list of dystopian novels, in response to a request for 'What are some of the best anarchist fiction novels?' It's also given as an instance of the dystopian sub-genre by Alex R. Knight III, writing on 'Libertarian Anarchism and Speculative Fiction.'

Karin Boye // Kallocain (English translation from the original Swedish, 1966)


First-person dystopia as written by the inventor of a truth serum that will fulfil the totalitarian dream of the rulers of the world state. "Grim and stark" is the verdict of Anders Monsen, for whom it is one of 50 works of fiction libertarians should read. Also included in Oyvin Myhre's handful of examples of "very good and influential utopian novels".

Ray Bradbury // The Martian Chronicles (1950); Fahrenheit 451 (1953); Something Wicked This Way Comes (1962)


Portions of The Martian Chronicles have a theme of liberty, according to Anders Monsen. A superb and classic collection, in any case.
Fahrenheit 451 was described by Daniel Johnson in Freedom in 2014 as a "dystopian masterpiece". It tied for the Libertarian Futurist Society Hall of Fame Award in 1984. For Jeff Riggenbach this work is "one of the most influential libertarian novels of the 20th century".
Something Wicked This Way Comes is included in Think Galactic's reading list.
Although apparently Republican, and a supporter of George W. Bush, in an interview with Time magazine in 2010 Bradbury said:
I don’t believe in government. I hate politics. I’m against it. And I hope that sometime this fall, we can destroy part of our government, and next year destroy even more of it. The less government, the happier I will be.

Burt Brinckerhoff // Brave New World


Made for TV adaptation of the Huxley novel. Overlong.
Included as a dystopia in Black Flag Blog's Anarchism and film.
Reviewed by Alex Peak, as a libertarian science fiction movie. Peak rightly regards the character of Helmholtz Watson as "the libertarian hero" of this movie: Bernard G. Marx ultimately conforms, and in any case poses no threat, and John Savage, too, though interesting, is also a conformist. But Helmholtz "most clearly represents the individualist spirit" and is "the most refreshing, inspiring, and interesting character offered in this teleplay."

Leslie Libman and Larry Williams // Brave New World


Again, a TV movie adaptation of the Huxley novel, but this time abridged and updated, with a new ending. Watchable, though.
Included as a dystopia in Black Flag Blog's Anarchism and film.
Reviewed by Alex Peak, who boldly gives his view that "this movie is even better than the book". As a libertarian dystopia, he says, "This is a story primarily about two things: individuality, and the freedom to have one’s own emotions."

Terry Gilliam // Brazil


Dystopian satire, drawing much from Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four, but also from Kafka, with an appealing flavour of steampunk.
Recommended by several contributors to the 2014 Anarchism SubReddit discussion on films advocating anti-capitalism, for one of whom—RednBlackSalamander—it is "one of the greatest movies ever made."
This is one of the two Gilliam films named by Glenn in his essay 'Film as Subversion', in the 2015 BASTARD Chronicles, as subversive, and dealing with individual alienation in a hive society.
In 2015 the film also received an enthusiastic 30th anniversary review by Clint Worthington on TheFreeOnline, Mike Gilliland's blog. Worthington described the film as "certainly one of the most fascinating and compelling depictions of Orwellian-esque sci-fascism ever put to screen," and concluding "However you feel, Brazil makes everyone hope for a world in which people are free to live, dream, and dissent."

Gene Brewer // K-PAX series


Included in Killjoy's list (see bibliography) of stories that explore anarchist societies. Of the four books, the first three were republished as K-PAX The Trilogy. The story centres on a patient in a mental hospital who appears to have a multiple personality disorder, with one of the personalities manifesting as an alien called 'prot' from the planet K-PAX. In some incomprehensible way it appears that prot really is an alien. The world he describes is so attractive in most respects, with its peace, its freedom from government and religion, and its love of harmony and a sustainability, that it is hard not to reach the conclusion that humans have got it all badly wrong. It is no coincidence that prot says, of a book he once read called The Travels of Gulliver, that 'The author got it about right.'

K-PAX IV (2007), is a disappointing coda.

Raymond Briggs // When the Wind Blows


Graphic novel in which an elderly couple experience the dropping of a nuclear bomb in England. Well received at the time by reviewers (two of them children) in two issues of Freedom. In the later review Julie Southwood wrote:
With wit, sympathy and simplicity almost unbearable in its pathos, Briggs illustrates how powerless we all are, once we agree to leave decisions concerning our 'survival' to any self-appointed elite of politicians and 'experts' . . . Whatever one's political views, this book concentrates the mind wonderfully on the real questions: what sort of survival, for whom, at what price? (Julie Southwood 1982)

David Brin // The Uplift War


Intelligent space opera, third of what SFE describes as a 'super-series'. One of Anders Monsen's 50 works of fiction libertarians should read; Monsen says "Uplift War deals with rights and liberties in subtle ways, and remains memorable for very realistic sketches of interactions between species."

John Sayles // The Brother from Another Planet


Gentle comedy, showing incidents in the experience of an alien slave who has escaped and crash-landed in New York; he appears African-American, and is pursued by two white alien 'men in black'. Seen as a classic of Afrofuturism.
Included in the Red Planets filmography (see Bould, bibliography).

Fredric Brown // 'The Weapon'


Described by John Pilgrim as "impressive", a "straightforward little morality tale", and an "instance of sf's capacity for healthy scepticism about the ethics of scientific research." (Pilgrim 1963, 1966)

Peter Currell Brown // Smallcreep's Day


Colin Ward's Work (1972) concludes with a long quotation from this book (Ward 1972: 64). Smallcreep is a factory assembly worker, who one day roves through the factory hoping to discover once and for all what he has been making all these years. The work as a whole is a very powerful protest against alienation; chapter Eight in particular contains an anguished confession from the managing director of his comprehension of the hypocrisy and unfairness of the system of authority which he represents. The managing director's devastating demolition of authority, and his vision of what a free society would be, may be presumed to represent Brown's own views: Smallcreep himself fails to understand them, which is Brown's pessimism—he, like the managing director, has no faith in his own visions, and can see no way out.

John Brunner // Stand on Zanzibar (1968); The Sheep Look Up (1972); The Shockwave Rider (1975)


In his 1964 essay on political attitudes in SF Brunner envisaged an automated anarchistic society as a possibility work exploring in SF (Brunner 1964: 125). Interviewed in 1979, he said that "if you had to classify me, you'd have to put me in some vague area like 'fellow-travelling idealistic anarchist.'" (Platt: 276)
Stand on Zanzibar and The Sheep Look Up are included in Think Galactic's reading list.
For Lessa, Takver & Alyx, writing in Open Road in 1978, the "anarchist city Precipice" of The Shockwave Rider "appears like a jewel in a sea of horror". (13) Congenial and professedly anti-authoritarian as Precipice may be, it can't fairly be described as anarchist, given that it supports sheriff, mayor, courts, lawyers, and a judicial code with mandatory sentences. It is included in Zeke Teflon's Favorite Anarchist Science Fiction Novels.

Tobias S. Buckell // 'Necahual'


Included in the Think Galactic reading list.

Algis Budrys // Who?


"Who? asked three major questions. How does technology shape who we are? How does technology (and technocracy) undermine our human relations? And, how—in the modern era—do institutions take the role in defining us, undermining our capacity for self-identification?" [Lampe's blog]

Lois McMaster Bujold // Falling Free


Won the Prometheus Hall of Fame Award in 2014.

Bulwer Lytton // The Coming Race


William Godwin exerted a degree of influence on Lytton's writing, and Godwin wrote to Lytton admiring his early work Paul Clifford. Godwin even gave support to Lytton when the latter stood for parliament. But George Woodcock notes that though Lytton "had a real admiration for Godwin as a philosopher" he was "most attracted to him as a novelist" (Woodcock 1946:231). The Coming Race is the work by which Lytton is chiefly remembered in science fiction circles. It is a utopia set underground, in which social relations have been drastically modified since the discovery of 'vril', an almost magical source of unlimited energy available to every individual. Political power is thus rendered inoperable: "Man was so completely at the mercy of man, each whom he encountered being able, if so willing, to slay him on the instant, that all notions of government by force gradually vanished from political systems and forms of law." (Steiner pb edn: 56). Marie-Louise Berneri (242) detected Godwin's influence in Lytton's model of a stateless society. Angel Cappelletti (1966:31) additionally hints at some influence from Proudhon. But without suggesting direct influence perhaps Woodcock's suggestion is closest, namely that Lytton's utopia is similar to the world of Stirnerite egoists.

Katherine Burdekin (writing as Murray Constantine) // Swastika Night


For Moorcock, the novel "seems to think that Christianity could conquer Hitler but is otherwise a pretty incisive projection of Nazism several hundred years in the future". (Moorcock 1978)

Eugene L. Burdick & Harvey Wheeler // Fail-Safe


Tense thriller in which mechanical failure leads to a US nuclear attack on Moscow; to convince the Soviet leader that it was a mistake, the US president is forced to order the tit-for-tat destruction of New York. John Pilgrim in 1966 considered it to be in the tradition of Chesney's The Battle of Dorking, but its motivation is very different, being passionately opposed to nuclear escalation and the arms war.

Anthony Burgess // A Clockwork Orange (1962); 1985 (1978)


Burgess himself responded in the pages of Freedom to a review by Nicolas Walter of the film of his book. The novel concerns a violent delinquent youth who is forcibly conditioned to non-violent behaviour at the cost of his absorbing pleasure in music; he is eventually reconditioned to his old behaviour patterns. The near-anarchistic moral of the story is made explicit by Burgess in his later work, 1985, which includes comments on A Clockwork Orange:
The unintended destruction of Alex's capacity for enjoying music symbolizes the State's imperfect understanding (or volitional ignorance) of the whole nature of man, and of the consequences of its own decisions. We may not be able to trust man—meaning ourselves—very far, but we must trust the State far less. (Arrow edn: 93).
'1984' — the first part of Burgess's 1985 — displays an extensive knowledge of the anarchist movement, its history and philosophy. References to the Spanish Civil War or to Sacco & Vanzetti are unusual but not unique in sf, but Burgess's mention of an anarchist youth movement in China's Yunan province almost certainly is. A chapter entitled 'Bakunin's Children' actually incorporates a three-page biographical portrait of Bakunin, whom he describes as "the rank meat in a more rational anarchical sandwich, tastier than the dry bread of theory that Proudhon offered before him and Kropotkin after." (69). Burgess argues that Bakunin's temperament, which urges him to destroy all that is old, led anarchists to reject the past, and that "Anarchism, in rejecting the past and assuming that the new is, by a kind of Hegelian necessity, better than the old, opens the way to tyranny." (77) Thus, for Burgess, the world of Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four has its intellectual origins in nineteenth-century anarchism. "Anarchism is not possible. Bakunin is a dead prophet." (81) Nevertheless, Burgess clearly finds it appealing: though he says "you can almost smell the cordite in the word" (69) he finds its overtones "terrible, and attractive" (71). Essentially it is historical anarchism that Burgess rejects, rather than anarchism's roots in anti-statism and individualism. Having rejected Bakunin and Kropotkin, Burgess opts for Thoreau, "the true patron saint" (82) of the individual. "The individual alone can be a true anarch." (82).

A Clockwork Orange won the Libertarian Futurist Society Hall of Fame Award in 2008.

William S. Burroughs // The Naked Lunch (1959); The Soft Machine (1961/6); Nova Express (1966); The Ticket That Exploded (1968); The Wild Boys (1969), Exterminator! (1974); Cities of the Red Night (1981), Ghost of Chance (1991)


Burroughs's work is difficult to describe or classify, but most of his books have some SF interest, and among these all the above titles have been referred to in anarchist publications. The most characteristic and recurrent of his themes is stated succinctly in The Naked Lunch:
" . . . You see control can never be a means to any practical end . . . . It can never be a means to anything but more control . . . . Like junk . . ." (164, Calder & Boyars edn).

Dave Cunliffe, in his 1968 Freedom review of The Soft Machine, summed up Burroughs as "a technological mystic and creative journalist with liberal and reformist tendencies". But "his inspired solipsistic vision" (Moorcock 1983: 71) represents more than this: his sympathies are libertarian and revolutionary. B.P.D., writing in Freedom in 1972, felt that "To employ the term 'anarchist' to such an individualist thinker as William Burroughs would be to categorise him wrongly and unnecessarily." But that he approached closely to anarchism is shown clearly in his 1969 interview with Daniel Odier, published as The Job. He says he is "very dubious of politics myself" (47), and believes that "all existing governments are control machines" (35); and when asked directly whether he believes in the anarchist solutions for the future he replies
I don't really know what they are, although I would say this, that I don't believe in any solution that proposes halfway measures. Unless we can abolish the whole concept of the nation, and the whole concept of the family, we aren't going to get anywhere at all, just nowhere. (65)

He had no illusions about the (then current) hippie challenge to the system of control: "The only way I like to see cops given flowers is in a flower-pot from a high window." (67)
"While Burroughs work is primarily dystopian, a few anarchistic utopian societies do show up. In The Wild Boys, for example, Burroughs portrays an anarchistic society that consists of roving gangs of dope-smoking, homosexual teenage boys who wear nothing but jockstraps and rollerskates. The trilogy that begins with Cities of the Red Night includes material about several attempts to found libertarian societies, including Libertatia . . . and a group of Rimbaud-reading, dope-smoking, homosexual Zen gunslingers in the Wild West. Ghost of Chance stars Captain Mission and his pirate utopia Libertatia." (Dan Clore)

Carl Bussjaeger // The Anarchists


Libertarian SF collection. Readable, and entertaining in parts.

Octavia E. Butler // Patternmaster (1976); Kindred (1979); Wild Seed (1980); Lilith's Brood (1987–1989, aka Xenogenesis; consisting of Dawn (1987), Adulthood Rites (1988), and Imago (1989)); Parable of the Sower (1994); Parable of the Talents (1999); Fledgling (2005)


Patternmaster is one of the weakest of Butler's novels, but is nevertheless included in Mark Bould's Red Planets reading list (see bibliography), and is in Dukan's bibliography as an early work from the first generation of Black Futurists.
Kindred is probably Butler's best-known work, and is by now pretty much a standard text, featuring a complex critique of race and power relationships in the ante-bellum South, from the viewpoint of an African-American woman from 1976, who is intermittently pulled back to 1815 whenever her slave-owning white forebear is in danger.
Wild Seed is the last of Butler's Patternist series. Lewis Call devotes a couple of pages to this work in 'Structures of desire', his chapter in Hecker and Cleminson, eds: Anarchism & Sexuality. He sees the novel as "a sadomasochistic love story," in which Butler discovered "a kind of erotic play-slavery," which she presents as "an effective strategic and symbolic challenge to a principal character's "ugly, empire-building slavery." He concludes that "A text would have to be kinky and postanarchist to achieve something like that."

For Anu Bonobo, in Fifth Estate #373,
Dawn's most daring maneuver was not the unattractive aliens on the breathing bio-ship that rescued the xenophobic humans after a human holocaust—nor even the seemingly benevolent freaks' rejection of humanity's apparently inherent hierarchies; rather, Butler busted boundaries with bizarre, kinky, and blissfully psychedelic interspecies sex. Even though the humans cannot help but like it, do they really want it? As one might imagine, the issue of permission is problematic here; do the humans choose to breed with their apparently terrifying and tentacled saviors and captors? Is this patronizing servitude masked as emancipation?

The Xenogenesis stories have also been recommended on the Facebook Anarchism and Science Fiction Forum. But Zeke Teflon has added a corrective, stressing that the the view that the trilogy is a flawed utopia is "grotesque".
The two Parable books chart the rise of a movement based on mutual aid (or just common human decency) amid the breakdown of society in the United States. Warm and literate, it's unfortunate that the author chose to hang her principles on a new religion.
Butler's work, and especially the Parable novels, were featured in articles in her memory, by Anu Bonobo and Benjamin Carson, in Fifth Estate in 2006. While Bonobo focuses on her Afrofuturism, Carson, while relishing the mutual aid depicted, finds Butler's orientation towards a future in space "deeply troubling".
Bonobo, in Fifth Estate #373, speaks of the vampire collectives of Fledgling as "bloodlinked free love communes—of a sort. But since the symbionts need the vampire kiss like a junky needs his needle, it’s difficult to define this as a liberated relationship." Fledgling is included in the Think Galactic reading list as well as the Swindon Anarchist Group's list of anarchist/resistance novels.

Samuel Butler // Erewhon (1872); Erewhon Revisited (1901)


Erewhon is a satirical utopia with dystopian elements, set in New Zealand. Established Western conventions are overturned—criminals are cured, but sickness punished; churches have become musical banks; machines have been banned because of fears of their possible role as evolutionary successors to Homo sapiens. The satire was familiar reading to a number of anarchists: Marie-Louise Berneri, Angel Cappelletti, Ethel Mannin, Herbert Read, and George Woodcock all refer to it. In this satire, for Cappelletti, "is shown the singular taste of the author for inverting ideas and values commonly accepted, pleasure in turning the world upside down, and a caustic and subversive use of paradox" . . . (Cappelletti 1966: 27)
Erewhon Revisited was bought and read by Herbert Read in 1915. (Read 1963: 211)

Monica Byrne // The Girl in the Road


A science fiction story dividing its time between Africa and India and heavily inspired by Ursula Le Guin, The Girl in the Road interpolates the issues of religion, climate, gender, and personal sovereignty over our sexuality. It takes place in the near future and introduces many questions which concern our present. Its two stories are split between a coming of age story amidst a society in conflict and upheaval (in Africa) and a rich, relatively stable society undergoing the slow creep of techno-oppression (India).

While anarchy is not explicitly discussed, its emphasis on the inequality of climate change but also its potential to remake the world, the dangerous use of technology in the hands of the state apparatus, gender roles and our resistance to them, and the overall importance of personal resistance to the norm is of much interest to anarchist ideologues or those interested in the ideology.


Kevin Willmott // C.S.A.: The Confederate States of America


Effective mockumentary, purporting to be a cable-TV-style account—complete with fake archive footage and even commercial breaks—of the alternate history of the establishment of a Confederate empire across most of the Americas, where slavery has remained the norm until the present day, after Confederate victory in the American Civil War.
Mark Bould's Red Planets filmography says it "reveals how deeply the tendrils of racism extend into the present." The film was one of those selected by Joe Jordan, of Anarchist People of Color, for inclusion in events for black history month in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2013.

Étienne Cabet // Travels in Icaria

(1839; first published in 1840 as Voyage et aventures de Lord William Carisdall en Icarie)

Icaria proves to be a communist utopia of rather an authoritarian stamp.
Berneri has sixteen pages on Cabet's utopia, which she finds particularly uncongenial:
Etienne Cabet belonged to that type of social reformer whose love of humanity is as boundless as their faith in their own power to work out its salvation. (219)
Though there are no rich and no poor in Icaria, no professional politicians and soldiers, no policemen and no prisons, we feel strangely uncomfortable at finding that it has so many features in common with the totalitarian régimes of the twentieth century. [ . . . ] The love of uniformity, centralisation and state-control is to be found in most utopias, but in Voyage to Icaria it is carried to such extremes as to make it resemble, in many parts, the satirical utopias of our century. (235)

Ernest Callenbach // Ecotopia (1975); Ecotopia Emerging (1981)


Ecotopia drew mixed responses from anarchists. For Lessa, Takver & Alyx it was "an environmentalist's dream come true", but for Milligan "Ecotopia is a shoddy amalgam of Swedish social democracy, Swiss neutrality, and Yugoslav workers' co-ops cobbled together with the authoritarianism of Blueprint for Survival. [ . . . ] Ecotopia is a flawed vision of a flawed future." For A.B. "This is an important book which should not be taken seriously", but is "unconvincing on the political plane".
Ecotopia Emerging is the prequel, setting the scene for the first novel. It is tagged as SF in the CIRA catalogue, as well as being included in the Red Planets reading list (see Bould, in bibliography).

Italo Calvino // If on a winter's night a traveller

(1981; originally published in 1979 as Se una notte d'inverno un viaggiatore)

Not sf, but as SFE puts it this novel "stunningly transfigures the conventions and momentums of narrative into a Bunuelesque labyrinth", and Calvino's "use of SF subjects and their intermixing with a whole array of contemporary literary devices made him a figure of considerable interest for the future of the genre."
Calvino wrote, of his father, that he "had been in his youth an anarchist, a follower of Kropotkin and then a Socialist Reformist".

Tommaso Campanella // Civitas Solis

(1623, but first draft 1602; first English translation 1885, as The City of the Sun)

This classic utopia was seen straightforwardly by Max Nettlau as authoritarian and statist. But Berneri was somewhat more charitable, in the 14 pages she devoted to the work. She noted that it
. . . "is the first utopia which gives a leading role to natural sciences. It is also the first utopia which abolishes slave labour and considers all manual work, however humble it may now appear, as an honourable duty. As in other utopias, however, there is little freedom in the City of the Sun."

However, given Campanella's own experience of years of imprisonment courtesy of the Roman Catholic church, she noted that "not unnaturally, Campanella bans prisons and torture from his ideal city." Nevertheless, given that the utopia was intended as a political blueprint, she found it "arid and uninspiring."
Bob Black has commented approvingly on Campanella's suggested four-hour working week.

John W. Campbell, Jr // 'Constitution for Utopia'


This is a typically controversial editorial by Analog's most influential editor. Characteristically, he says the creation of utopia is "an engineering problem, and should be approached as such." (5)
Campbell argues that "Since it can be pretty fairly shown that any form of government—from pure anarchy through absolute tyranny, with every possible shading in between—will yield Utopia provided the rulers are wise, benevolent, and competent, the place to start engineering of Utopia is with the method of selecting rulers" (6). This he suggests should be done by restricting the franchise to the top 20% income bracket, irrespective of how such income may have been earned, which in Campbell's view should at least ensure competence, which is really the only criterion which concerns him.
Anarchism is pretty summarily dismissed:
Anarchy is government-that-is-no-government. In other words, each individual citizen is his own ruler. Given that all the citizens are wise, benevolent, and competent, anarchy will produce a Utopia. Unfortunately, this requires that each citizen be in fact, not simply in his own perfectly sincere convictions, actually wise, benevolent and competent.

It is therefore clearly impossible. Campbell spells this out in a reply to a letter in a subsequent issue (UK edition, Oct 1961): "the usual trouble is that some individual exercises his right as an Anarchist, to live the way he wants to by enslaving his neighbours." (125)

Karel Čapek // R.U.R. (1920); War with the Newts (1936)


It has been said that Čapek had to leave school "when it was discovered that he was a member of a secret anarchist society". (Gale) He has also been quoted as saying (but at what date is unknown) "I think I am slowly becoming an anarchist, that this is only another label for my privateness, and I think that you will understand this in the sense of being against collectivity." (Wikiquote)
Berneri, Read, and Woodcock were all familiar with R.U.R., in which the word 'robot' first became common parlance. Read felt that maybe the robot "is no longer an appropriate symbol for an age of automation. Capek saw men transformed into a machine; we see machines transformed into men." (Read 1966)
Čapek's satiric novel War with the Newts ridicules Nazi-Germany and fascism in general, while conveying the author's ideas that technology can become a threat to mankind and that capitalism unrestrained also poses a serious danger. It's included in the Think Galactic reading list.

Anthony Russo and Joe Russo // Captain America: Civil War


Lots of action and some pretty good effects, but basically a silly story of too many superheroes fighting each other.
The Anarcho-Geek Review's Sadie the Goat was rather more enthusiastic with a review entitled 'Captain America is a big screen anarchist superhero, how fucking weird is that?', saying "Steve's [Captain America's] perspective [ . . . ] fits nicely with an anarchist outlook; he is fighting to keep his actions his own. He refuses to put himself in a position of taking orders simply to avoid the possibility that he might have to feel guilty for his own mistakes later. That’s anarchist as hell" . . . .
Connor Owens, at solarpunkanarchists.com, gives '