Republibot and right-wing science fiction

Paul Raven @ 02-06-2009

I always find it vaguely amusing when the few (but regular) bits of hatemail arrive in my inbox from people disparaging Futurismic as a left-wing site, because it’s never really occurred to me that it has any such agenda. Sure, a lot of what we post here tends to be regarding subjects that are antithetical to classical conservatism, but it’s not as if we don’t question stuff from the other side of the arbitrary political fence; for me at least, thinking realistically about the future involves trying to see past such old and cumbersome philosophical binaries. Indeed, I believe it’s that very binary opposition which is holding us back from our potential as a species…

But I digress – liberalism is in the eye of the beholder, I suppose. But thanks to Wired, those of you looking for a more right-wing flavour to your science fiction news have a new URL to add to your RSS reader: Republibot describes itself as describes itself as “The science fiction site for people who aren’t drooling knee-jerk liberals.”

Nothing like squeezing a sweeping ad hominem into your strapline, I guess… but they follow it with: “In our minds, Science Fiction is all about asking questions and being open minded to the answers. Sometimes the answers are reassuring, sometimes they’re disturbing, and sometimes there are no answers at all, but the point is to keep asking the questions.” So maybe they’re not as different to the supposedly left-wing fans as they’d like to think! ;)

At a first glance (and despite a small original fiction section), Republibot looks to be more focussed on media sf than written, so I don’t know how much interest I’m going to get out of it, but nonetheless I’m going to follow along for a while and see what’s happening over there. Can anyone recommend any other explicitly political science fiction sites – from either side of the divide?

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9 Responses to “Republibot and right-wing science fiction”

  1. DQKennard says:

    Interesting — not for what’s there, but for the reasons they state for putting it up: that much of SF is (in their perception) pretty leftist, and that the SF sites are run by “hard left” “lockstep liberals” for “drooling knee-jerk liberals”. Though, it should be noted, they aren’t necessarily going to call *all* liberals “baby-killing man-hating sexually deviant jerks”. People don’t even have to be completely polite in discussions there — which is good, since after all “people from Pennsylvania and Boston are biologically incapable of politeness”.

    Wow. Just wow.

    And here I’ve generally associated with conservatives the strong threads of militarism and hardcore meritocracy that have always run through various aspects of SF.

  2. Dave says:

    There’s a list of top 100 socialist sci-fi novels somewhere….

    (They’re right about Boston btw.)

  3. TomMarcinko says:

    “Reality has a well-known liberal bias.”
    –Stephen Colbert

  4. TomMarcinko says:

    Come to think, you could probably come up with a respectable list of right-wing sf authors. Heinlein, Card, Niven…

    Especially as so many of us seem to grow more conservative In some ways) as we get older.

    It would be interesting to see who would accept or reject the classification. I wonder about writers who seem to be all over the map, like David Brin or Gregory Benford.

  5. Adam Rakunas says:

    Shorter Republibot:

    Oh noes! Those limp-wristed moonbats have been mean to us on Teh Intarweebs! We’ll start our OWN site and show them! Har har!

    If they want to call themselves a conservative SF site, fine. But if they take their name from the morally corrupt bastards who drove the United States into one ditch after another for the past eight years and then charged us for towing, car repair and ditch rental (plus interest), that’s their own damage.

    Also, doesn’t the suffix -bot bring to mind a mindless drone who needs programming in order to be useful?

  6. JasperPants says:

    “The facts of life are conservative”

    Maraget Thatcher

    Touche, TomMarcinko

  7. Republibot 3.0 says:

    Hi, everyone!

    Firstly, I’d very much like to thank Mr. Raven for his mention of us on his website, and for his guardedly positive assesment in calling interesting enough to be worthy of visiting our site for a while! Thanks for the mention of our Original Fiction site. It’s growing slower than I would have liked, but I’m pretty proud of the two stories I’ve contributed. It’s nice to know someone is reading them. So thanks for that.

    In fact, the three of us running the site don’t take any issue with the fact that SF is a fairly liberal genre, and personally I think it almost *has* to be. SF is a medium for trying out new ideas to see how they fit before you buy them, and one really shouldn’t limit one’s imagination in that context. It’s better you figure out the virtues or failings of new ideas and technologies and philosophies *before* society gets to that point, than just blunder in to it unawares. And sometimes it’s just fun, you know? None of us object to that.

    What kind of hacked me off, personally, was how I’d get dogpiled on at various website forums if I dared to question the party line. The particulars don’t matter, but I eventualy began to realize that there’s just as much reactionary, closed-minded behavior on the left as there (clearly) is on the right. I don’t mind a liberal bias, that’s fine. Only a fool pretends that one system or ideology is ideal for every situation, but it was kind of shocking for me, personally, to realize that people who said that an Open Mind is the greatest virtue were, in fact, so unwilling to listen. When someone calls you a “Crypto-Fascist” because I mentioned that Agent Ellison on Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles is a positive potrayal of a Christian with traditional religious beliefs, well, it becomes obvious that there’s some issues they’re not prepared to discuss rationally.

    And that’s fine, it really is. But it is my opinion that a diversity of viewpoint can only be a good thing. That’s also a stated opinion of the liberal community, though I’m not sure how much of that is a real opinion and how much is just lip service. One can’t say they appreciate diverse viewpoints, and then reject half of them out of hand because the people who voiced them come from a different party, or a different color, or a different religious group than yourself.

    And to that end, we started Republibot. We’re not trying pretend that Ben Bova is a Christian, or that Rudy Rucker is a Republican, or anything stupid like that. There’s no spin, we don’t allow any hate speech, no bigotry, and we try really hard to respect the views of others, whether we agree with them or not. The point is not to convert, or propagandize, the idea is simply to provide another perspective, one which has been sadly underepresented online heretofore. Visitors can choose to accept it or reject it as they see fit, but the discussion, the weighing of ideas, the flensing of concepts down to their intelectual roots, that’s the important part.

    Oh, yeah, and we also review some cartoons.

    @Adam Rakunas:
    >>If they want to call themselves a conservative SF site, fine. But if they take their name from the morally corrupt bastards who drove the United States into one ditch after another for the past eight years and then charged us for towing, car repair and ditch rental (plus interest), that’s their own damage. Also, doesn’t the suffix -bot bring to mind a mindless drone who needs programming in order to be useful?<<<<>>(They’re right about Boston btw.)<<<
    Thank you! I’ve always felt so, but a surprising number of people who’ve never been there keep trying to argue the point with me.

  8. jon says:

    I question the naming of some of these ‘right wing alternative’ sites like Republibot and Conservapedia, in that they make conservatives look increasingly fringe and anti-mainstream thought. Surely this can’t be their agenda. From a marketing perspective, if you want to run normal-named site with a right-of-center bent then no problem — you might win over a few wavering converts. But by making it so overt from the outset, you’re just alienating some potential visitors.

  9. Republibot 3.0 says:

    Valid point, Jon, but while it might serve to alienate some potential visitors, it attracts others. People who might be put off by “The All-Gay Abortion Rights Athiest Blog” might see the name “Republibot” and think, “Oh, I’ll be safe there!” And it seems to have worked somewhat. At this point we’re more nichecasting than broadcasting anyway, I mean how many Conservatives care all that much about Science Fiction anyway? We’re appealing to a fairly select group by design. And like I said above, the Hard Left is always going to label us evil reactionaries without giving us a chance no matter what we do, so the name was a concious decision to just own up to that ahead of time and take the wind out of their sails. “Turning perjoratives in to Positives” as R2 says on our site.

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