Social science and science fiction

Crooked Timber is hosting an online seminar on the innovative science fiction author Charlie Stross.  Their discussants include economists Paul Krugman, Brad DeLong, and John Quiggin , as well as a response from Charlie Stross (pt 1 and 2):

… we’ve got Paul Krugman writing on The Merchant Princes, considered as a thought experiment in development economics. Of course, as Paul points out, these books are first, and foremost, great fun. But, unlike others in the ‘between alternate timelines genre’ Stross focuses on the big question: how does an agrarian society respond to a sudden irruption of modern industrial technology?

For example Political Scientist Henry Farrel writes:

Rather than engaging with the futures of the past (as lots of SF today does, it tries to set out the futures of the present, … I think that this is the first genuinely successful SFnal take on the social changes that we’re facing into – not, of course, because it is going to be right – but because it takes some of the core dilemmas of an IT based society, plays with them and extrapolates them in ways that challenge our basic understanding of politics in a networked society.

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