Recommended Items

This archive can be a bit daunting; while the wealth of information contained within it is wonderful, it also lacks a clear entry point. One way to get started is to use our Randomize page to retrieve a random article. But what if you want a more curated experience? Recommendations are one of the best ways to find new books to read. Amazon knows it, we know it, and you know it as well. While creating more in-depth content is certainly on our agenda, we thought we'd get started with some "simple" recommendations.

In this page, you can find the authors' recommended reading and viewing lists. The first one is Eden's (who took over running the site in 2019) and the second one is Ben's (who started the original archive). We have varying tastes but all the recommendations on these lists revolve around the subject-matter at hand, namely political, leftist, and, hopefully, anarchist science fiction.

Scrolling is bad for you! Here's Eden's reading list, here's Ben's reading list, and here's Ben's recommended viewing! Just click to scroll; we care about your fingers.

Eden's List

Ben's list contains some truly great recommendations, some of them wildly read (like the excellent The Dispossessed) and some of them criminally underrated (like PKD's The Last of the Masters). However, I felt the need to provide my own recommendations, based on multiple inquiries by people who told me that the archive itself was just so damn much! Like Ben's, my list is divided into two parts; the first is a list of not only books but also articles that are worth your time. The second part is made up of movies or shows that I recommend watching (TBD).

Ursula K. Le Guin - The Eye of the Heron

While The Dispossessed is recommended below, I feel like the The Eye of the Heron is one of Ursula's most underrated works. Also, I'm bound by duty to open this list with an UKL recommendation, so here we are. The Eye of the Heron is one of Le Guin's most "ethereal" books; it tells the story of an almost empty planet, inhabitated by two groups of exiles from Earth. One of them, the first arrivals, is made up of land-ownders, "Bosses" as they are coloquillay known on Victoria, the colony, mostly from Brazil and other areas of Latin America. The other group, far larger, are adherents to "The Way of Peace", an anarchist-pacifist group that caused too much noise on Earth and was exiled.

Over the not-too-long length of the book, these two groups come into collision. In the background, lending the book its "ethereal" quality, is the planet itself and its wilderness. Like in many UKL stories, nature plays a big role in this book. As the two groups of humans clash, questions about how empty the planet really is hover in the background, reminding us of the native and the unknown. The book also raises questions of pacifism's limit, how organizing works, and what happens when anarchist ideas are tested in the field.

M.John Harrison - The Centauri Device

The degree to which M. John Harrison is underread today is criminal. He has one of the weirdest and most original minds around, whether he's writing bleak sci-fantasy (Viriconium), deconstructed and nightmarishly nihilistic space-opera (Empty Space Trilogy) or an anarchist space-opera. The latter is what I would like to recommend here, since it touches upon anarchy more than his other books listed here. The Centauri Device bears immediate comparison to Alfred Bester's masterpiece, The Stars My Destination; a loner takes on the entire universe and its political system, battling it out against governments and corporations.

But at the center of The Centauri Device lies the potential of the destruction of space itself, as a concept, as well as a more thorough and interesting exploration of space-faring societies than in Bester's great work. It is a book filled with weird and aweomse ship names, hedonistc anarchists fighting it out in space, breakneck action and lots of existensialism. It's a ride and a half.

Desert - Anonymous

Desert is an anonymous essay about climate change from an anarchist perspective. It aims to break up what it sees as the very liberal and romantic conception of "the end of the world" that is so prevalent in ecological discourse and instead replace it with a more sober and local view of climate catastrophe. It argues that climate catastrophe, while always terrible, is also always coming and we should thus try and see what opportunity exists within it. Since the world is (probably) not going to collapse at once, there's opprtunity here for resistance and for new societies, organized around new lines.

Monica Byrne - The Girl in the Road

While The Girl in the Road doesn't explicitly touch on anarchy, it has overtly feminist, anti-colonial, and individualist themes. It also deals with climate change, which is a topic no anarchist can today afford to overlook. The book is written from the perspectives of two women, one of which is located in India while the other is in East Africa. They both struggle with notions of the body, sexuality, coming of age, religion, and technology. Throughout the book, Byrne daftly weaves the personal and the general, in a style that is very much reminiscent of Ursula Le Guin (whom the author has said had much influence on her).

The main thing that is of interest to anarchists in this book is the relationship between technology, the individual, and nature. Climate catastrophe hovers over the entire book and, indeed, makes a forecful appearance at its end. However, instead of focusing on "disaster porn", the book prefers to explore how individuals cope with a changing world and how they carve out their own personal spaces in an increasingly violently controlled society.

Jack Womack - Random Acts of Senseless Violence

One of sci-fi's best kept secrets, Random Acts of Senseless Violence depicts the utter unravelling of American society. After a string of presidents are assassinated, the very fabric of society begins to become undone; the ecnonomic situation is dire and the hold of law on the country is loosening. Into this world is thrust Lola Hart, the daughter of a well-to-do but by no means rich family from Manhattan. Since the story is told from her perspective, with Womack cleverly writing in the language of a twelve-year-old child, we see a very thin slice of the crisis that is unfolding.

Quickly however, the family begins to lose its stability. As a result, Lola is thrust into a new school, new neighborhood and, finally, into the violence of the world as the social contract starts to unravel. Like the famous Flowers for Algernon (by Daniel Keyes), the language of Lola evolves alongside her psychology. The novel uses these tools to expertly capture what happens when laws breaks down in a capitalist society and how the basics of what we call life fall prey to greed and violence. The absence of a better solution is deafening and should serve as a good reminder to any anarchist what is at stake if we cannot formulate an alternative to the way things are organized today.

Heavenly Bodies - Damien Williams

Heavenly Bodies: Why It Matters That Cyborgs Have Always Been About Disability, Mental Health, and Marginalization is an essay looking at the over-used term "cyborg" in an attempt to re-contextualize the term. The essay looks at the history of term, which sprouted from the research into the possibility of self chemically-regulating human bodies, and then ties it and the discourse on it to questions on disability, space travel, mental health, and more.

Ben's List

This list was originally written by Ben Beck, the original archiver and curator of the site.

  • Iain M. Banks: Culture series (1987–2012)

  • Gene Brewer: K-PAX The Trilogy (2004)

  • Steve Cullen: The Last Capitalist: A Dream of a New Utopia (1996)

  • Dennis Danvers: The Watch (2002)

  • Joseph Déjacque: L'Humanisphère (1858–61)

  • Philip K. Dick: 'The Last of the Masters' (1954)

  • L. Timmel Duchamp: The Marq'ssan Cycle (2005–7)

  • Leslie Fish: The Weight (1988)

  • Mike Gilliland: The Free (2nd edn 2011)

  • Ernest C. Large: Dawn in Andromeda (1956)

  • Ursula K. Le Guin: The Dispossessed (1974)

  • Brad Linaweaver and J. Kent Hastings: Anarquía (2004)

  • P.M.: bolo'bolo (1985)

  • Michael Moorcock: The Cornelius Chronicles (1977)

  • William Morris: News from Nowhere (1890; revised 1892)

  • Robert Nichols: Daily Lives in Nghsi-Altai (1977–9)

  • M.E. O'Brien and Eman Abdelhadi: Everything for Everyone. An Oral History of the New York Commune, 2052–2072 (2022)

  • Henry Olerich: A Cityless and Countryless World. An Outline of Practical Co-operative Individualism (1893)

  • George Orwell: Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949)

  • Eric Frank Russell: The Great Explosion (1962)

  • Robert Sheckley: 'Skulking Permit'(1954)

  • Robert Anton Wilson and Robert Shea: Illuminatus! (1975)

  • Yevgeny Zamyatin: We (1920)

For an Overview of Anarchy and Science Fiction

  • Marie Louise Berneri: Journey Through Utopia (2019; first published 1950)

  • Margaret Killjoy, ed.:  Mythmakers & Lawbreakers. Anarchist writers on fiction (2009)

  • Max Nettlau: Esbozo de Historia de las Utopías (1934)

  • 2081 (2009)

  • La Belle Verte (1996)

  • Born in Flames (1983)

  • Brazil (1985)

  • The City of Lost Children (1995)

  • Dark Star (1974)

  • District 9 (2009)

  • Dr Strangelove (1964)

  • Fail-Safe (1964)

  • K-PAX (2001)

  • The Matrix (1999)

  • Nineteen Eighty-Four (1954)

  • Nineteen Eighty-Four (1984)

  • Primer (2004)

  • The Prisoner (1967/1968)

  • Punishment Park (1970)

  • A Scanner Darkly (2006)

  • The Truman Show (1998)

Coded with verve using Jekyll, Tailwind CSS, and GitHub