Stealing Other People’s Homework: James Joyce and Science Fiction & Alternate Histories of the American Revolution

Andrew May looks at references to James Joyce in SF with attention paid to Philip K. Dick, James Blish, and Brian Aldiss.

Razib Khan looks at the complicated consequences of the colonies losing their war with Britain. I’ve reviewed one such alternate history, Robert Conroy’s Liberty: 1784. There are others:

How Diverse Do You Really Want Your Characters?

I’ve been reading Peter F. Hamilton’s latest two books (yes, I will be reviewing them after I finish with Ambrose Bierce).

One of his long term themes, since he started setting stories off Earth, is the idea of an ethnostate.

The orthodoxy throughout most of the western world is that “diversity is our strength”, so an ethnostate could even be deemed “fascist” in certain quarters. The funny thing is, though, given the opportunity, racial and ethnic groups tend to self-segregate.

The 20th century could be seen, with the aftermath of World War One, the Holocaust, the breakup of the Soviet and Austro-Hungarian and Ottoman Empires, the India-Pakistan partition, even the conflict between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, as a long, bloody statement that people don’t want to share a polity with those not like them.

America continues to have racial strife, and many of our cities show voluntary segregation patterns on a variety of jurisdictional lines from school district to city.

But science fiction, particularly of the media sort, strikes me as mostly denying this real world phenomena. (The Village, as Steve Sailer noted, is a sort of science fictional film strikingly exceptional in this regard.)

The ethnostate seems to have largely vanished from modern science fiction, at least what I’ve seen. Poul Anderson’s The Boat of a Million Years had such societies, as I recall, especially those who rejected modern technology. When the idea of O’Neill L-5 colonies was big, it was assumed they might be populated along ethnic and racial lines. But only Peter F. Hamilton, that I know of, does anything with the idea.

Over at, geneticist Razib Khan’s “Fear of a Black Fantasy” talks about what we seem to really want in regards to the racial makeup of characters in fantasy and science fiction novels.

I will probably deal with Hamilton’s use of the idea when I review him.