From the 1970’s and on there have been many studies of the field of science fiction, and many overviews telling us “what it’s all about”. However, none of these essays have examined SF and its sister genre fantasy from a traditional point of view. This is what Lennart Svensson’s new book, Science Fiction Seen From the Right, attempts to do. The study takes a profound look at 20th century SF and fantasy, focusing on works having some discernible relation to eternal values such as faith, responsibility, duty, honor, courage and self-restraint. The world of Tradition, of perennial truths and values, is often mirrored in SF and fantasy. This study discusses the central books and authors in question.
The first authors to be explored are Robert A. Heinlein, Frank Herbert, C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien, these four being something of archetypal fantasists with a conservative slant. But there’s more; the study then looks at European dystopian authors such as Karin Boye, George Orwell, and Aldous Huxley along with Thea von Harbou and Ernst Jünger. Additionally, there are chapters on viable British authors such as Michael Moorcock, Arthur C. Clarke and J. G. Ballard, all of them examined from a traditional point of view.
The study also takes a look at an older generation of traditionally minded fantasy authors, such as Robert E. Howard, H. P. Lovecraft, and Edgar Rice Burroughs. Latin America is covered by way of Jorge Luis Borges and Carlos Castaneda. To top it all off there are chapters on more contemporary right-leaning authors like Jerry Pournelle and Ayn Rand, along with delving into the works of Ray Bradbury, Philip K. Dick and A. E. van Vogt. Svensson then gives us topical essays on History, Anarchy, War and Nihilism. The essay also includes chapters on the development of the genre as such and a look at SF art, comics, and films.
Hitherto, the field of SF has been under a liberal, ontologically nihilist hegemony. However, now the winds of change are blowing in the SF field, with PC pundits and “Social Justice Warriors” being challenged by a new generation of writers, readers, and critics. The study at hand, Science Fiction Seen From the Right, can be placed within this framework as a traditionally footed statement combating a nihilist zeitgeist. This is a well-researched, radical conservative look at 20th-century space fiction, epic fantasy, dystopia and magical realism, and is a real treat for any traditionally minded reader interested in the field of SF and fantasy.
The author has been reading SF since the 1980’s, he has written and published fantastic fiction and he’s the author of several conceptual essays, so in that respect, you could say that Science Fiction Seen From the Right is worth its price. As a literary study, it might be comparable to such classics as Kingsley Amis’ New Maps of Hell and Colin Wilson’s The Outsider.