World-Building in Political Elections

“Perhaps the crispest definition is that science fiction is a literature of ‘what if?'”
(Evans, Christopher. Writing Science Fiction. London, A & C Black, 1988.)

I know many of you are anxiously watching the midterm elections unfold today (and that many of you are voting in them as well!).  Elections for public office are steeped in both utopian and dystopian rhetoric, about the state of our communities and our country, about how our lives and world are, how they should be, how they could be. In short, these debates and these elections traffic heavily in what if? These elections and the candidates’ words and policies are, in a very real way, about world-building: they are about reality but also about imagination grounded in possibility. What will our communities, our country, and the world (not to mention our individual lives) look like if certain people are elected to serve us? What kinds of worlds do these candidates think is possible and desirable? How will they enact these visions? In whose interests?

“I define science fiction as the art of the possible. [. . .]. Science fiction, again, is the history of ideas, and they’re always ideas that work themselves out and become real and happen in the world” (Bradbury, Ray. “Ray Bradbury: The Science of Science Fiction.” By Arthur Unger. The Christian Science Monitor 13 Nov. 1980).

This is an open forum for class discussion, today on Election day, and beyond, to share your thoughts on how political rhetoric and platforms shape what is possible in our world. This is a space to consider what candidates’ visions of well-being for our communities and our country mean, what they do. Today’s elections (and the campaigning and political battles that have been accompanying them, for months now) is about “extrapolation,” a tool central to the genre of science fiction. The candidates are starting from our present circumstances and extrapolating to what might happen if we continue down our current path undeterred, or what alternatives exist, and how things might be different if we change our course. Though there is much obsession with facts, this extrapolation depends on assumptions, perspectives, and values. This extrapolation is grounded in competing needs and desires about how people should live and how societies should structure themselves (think of hierarchies, treatment of the “other,” about all the questions on the Science Fiction Framework).

Together, let’s close (and actively) read these texts of the Election (the candidates’ words, their policies, media coverage surrounding them, etc.) and critically examine what is being explicitly or implicitly stated in these visions. As always, textual evidence (with citations/links) will help to support your claims about what the candidates’ believe America does, could, and should look like one possible future; the future in which they are elected public servants of our communities and of the country where we live and work and dream, the United States of America.

18 thoughts on “World-Building in Political Elections

  1. Pingback: Tuesday 11/06/18 Class Notes | ENG 2420: Science Fiction

  2. Justin Bernard

    In this day and age of politics, the two greatest parties :Republican and Democrats are at a fringe as they war on ideas and helping this country. In comparison to science fiction, the genre brings forth”what if” and politicians are trying to argue the “what if” and the benefits it could have on the is country and in the future.

    1. Tyler Yuen

      To add on to what you said, it seems a lot of people are arguing “what if”, as the Democrats have control over the House and Republicans have control over the Senate.  Both the Senate and House have different functions but they still work together when it comes to passing bills. With their conflicting views, it’s likely that they’ll have a lot of trouble coming to an agreement on what bill is best for the country.

  3. Vishal Naraine

    This midterm election has made a massive breakthrough in Congress and through the entire United States. Letitia James is the first African American woman to serve as New York’s attorney general. Letitia James is apart of the massive spread of American black women that have run for congressional or state executive office. In science fiction, women writers have fought long and hard to represented as equals to men SF writers. In both situations, women have broken the barriers and have become an important role in American democracy.

    1. Vishal Naraine

      As the new attorney general of New York, Letitia Jones will make a great impact on the American people. Ms. James vows that she will continue to challenge President Donald Trump and his visions. She plans on continuing cases such as the lawsuit against pharmaceutical corporations. Now that more Democratic members have been elected to the House of Representatives, the President will have a difficult time passing certain policies. It is truly amazing to see such great change in a country where women were not allowed to vote 100 years ago, but are now allowed to run for offices. Now that election day has passed, we will now enter a future where our possibilities could be envisioned through our elected officials.
      Here is a link to Letitia Jones and more about her visions for New York:

      1. Christopher Navarrete

        The fact that Letitia James said that she will challenge Donald Trump’s actions makes me think about all the possible futures. What if she was not elected as attorney general and no one challenged Trump’s policies? How different would the world be? Would it be any better or worse? This is similar to the quote we discussed in class where science talks about the potential what if’s?

        Below is the link for the New York Times article on Letitia James:

        1. sheng

          There has been challenges to Trump’s power like with the hearing of Judge Brett Kavanaugh. Even though with so many people and push for FBI interference, this guy still won, even though he is clearly a rapest. His winning, not only hurt the abused, but also many more people that had PTSD from rape experience. What’s the point of a court if the people’s voice are not heard.

          I really do not get what is going on with those people cheering for Trump.

        2. Tyler Yuen

          I also find it really interesting that she openly challenges President Trump.  He gets away with saying a lot of bizarre things which makes it seem like he’s untouchable.  He made a threat to deal with any Democrat who tries to investigate him which is why people are so submissive around him.  The fact that Ms. James doesn’t back down and is still willing to look into his dealings is really impressive. There’s no telling how successful she’ll be but I look forward to see how much of a difference she makes.
          Down below is a link to Trump’s threat:

          1. Christopher Navarrete

            I agree, Tyler. It is refreshing to see someone who will not back down to Trump, despite his threat. Speaking about the threat Trump made, I am curious about the consequences it will have and if he will really go by his word and pursue this ‘warlike posture’ toward anyone who investigates him. It should be interesting to see what happens to Letitia James and others who will challenge the president.

      2. Sajida

        It feels great to know that there is someone who has the same ideas and mind set that we do and can represent the people who understand why it is important to challenge what trump does and it good to know we have a person like Letitia Jones to do so

  4. Sajida

    This years midterm elections has made people come out and vote because of the state of are country. The question what if goes a long way in this topic of discussion because what if the person you voted for goes against what they said they would do, What if the person you voted for is not chosen, but what if the best person for the job got it. The question is a great one indeed and sometimes we have to have to question in order to do what is best.

    1. Pedro Balbuena

      This midterm election was indeed a important election. It had the potential of giving  The house and senate to the republicans. Which would have favored Trump. It is clear that a majority of people went and voted as the house has switched parties from republican to democrat. Although the senate may remain republican we can see we are taking steps in the right direction to write the wrongs in this country.

      Election Results Links:

  5. sheng

    With Trump as our president, I cannot help, but compare him to Hitler. Both of them have ambition with their own version of an Utopia. Hitler desired a country without Jews and Trump certainly does not take to women in power to kindly with the way he treats women like Clinton.

    1. Stan Caesar

      I agree with this comment because Donald Trumps seems like the type of President to make every decision on his own without anyone else’s opinion. Opinions are much needed when it comes to politicking because you have to see every angle of a situation before deciding on something. That is what the cabinet is also there for, but I strongly believe he disregards what anyone says at the cabinet meetings even though the room is contained with mainly republicans

  6. Pedro Balbuena

    Most of us know how brutal election day can be. It is particularly brutal for those who do not have the right to vote because it was taken from them for a mistake. In the state of Florida restored the voting rights about 1.4 million people. Rights that were taking away from those people for committing minor drug felonies. Although selling drugs is morally wrong its is unconstitutional to take away someones rights for a mistake they have paid time for and have had the time to reflect and regret that mistake. And this maybe a step in the right direction. And example for other states to consider restoring voting rights to those who may has well committed a mistake. Because in doing so we can probably see a more balanced and healthy democracy.


  7. Stan Caesar

    This year of 2018-2019 elections probably is the most anticipated crucial election in the past few years. More people have taken a stand on wanting to make a change in this world with the elections and voting due to the person sitting in the Oath now. Regarding science fiction, it needs to be incorporated into the big meetings they have because how Donald Trumps process what law is next to be passed, he does not think about the reality of everything. This election is probably the biggest change shown of people switching from being Republican to Democrat. The reasoning is because Donald Trump is brainwashing people to believe in his good-doings, when all he is doing is making everything more detrimental


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