From the libertarian economics of Ayn Rand to Aldous Huxley’s consumerist dystopias, economics and science fiction have often orbited each other. In Economic Science Fictions, editor William Davies has deliberately merged the two worlds, asking how we might harness the power of the utopian imagination to revitalise economic thinking.
Rooted in the sense that our current economic reality is no longer credible or viable, this collection treats our economy as a series of fictions and science fiction as a means of anticipating different economic futures. It asks how science fiction can motivate new approaches to economics and provides surprising new syntheses, merging social science with fiction, design with politics, scholarship with experimental forms.
With an opening chapter from Ha-Joon Chang as well as theory, short stories, and reflections on design, this book challenges and changes the notion that economics and science fiction are worlds apart. The result is a wealth of fresh and unusual perspectives for anyone who believes the economy is too important to be left solely to economists.
AUDINT, Khairani Barokka, Carina Brand, Ha-Joon Chang, Miriam A. Cherry, William Davies, Mark Fisher, Dan Gavshon Brady, Owen Hatherley, Laura Horn, Tim Jackson, Mark R. Johnson, Bastien Kerspern, Nora O Murchú, Justin Pickard, James Pockson, Tobias Revell, Judy Thorne, Sherryl Vint, Georgina Voss, Jo Lindsay Walton, Brian Willems
About the Editor
William Davies is a Senior Lecturer in Politics at Goldsmiths and Co-Director of the Political Economy Research Centre. He blogs at www.potlatch.org.uk
About the PERC Series
PERC seeks to refresh political economy, in the original sense of the term, as a pluralist and critical approach to the study of capitalism. In doing so it challenges the sense of economics as a discipline, separate from the other social sciences, aiming instead to combine economic knowledge with various other disciplinary approaches. This is a response to recent critiques of orthodox economics, as immune to interdisciplinarity and cut off from historical and political events. At the same time, the authority of economic experts and the relationship between academic research and the public (including, but not only, public policy-makers) are constant concerns running through PERC’s work.
For more information visit the PERC website.
What Davies and his contributors ultimately carve out is a space of hope. Nothing is inevitable, and the ending to our story remains to be written.
Necessary in its time, the slogan 'Another World Is Possible' was always vulnerable to the riposte: 'Yeah, well what kind of world?' This unique volume of what might be called social-science fiction demonstrates that the left is now capable of imagining what world or worlds might replace the dying universe of liberal capitalism. It's a rare pleasure to be able to say of a collection of essays by left-wing scholars that it's exciting—but this one is.
Science fiction has long been an arena for contending economic ideas, orthodox and otherwise. In this book's fascinating reflections, the attention is repaid with interest as the lenses of economics and critical theory are turned on science fiction's economic visions, dreams and nightmares.
Economic Science Fictions is an immensely valuable intervention into the critical debates around science fiction, politics and economics; a consistently stimulating and surprising collection of essays that not only demonstrates how useful it is to think of the genre from an economically informed perspective but also persuasively argues that economists ought to be paying attention to the speculative possibilities of the best science fiction. Every essay here is good, and from each one I learned things and found ways to rethink what I thought I already knew. A groundbreaking collection, very highly recommended.
Economic Science Fictions offers us Ha-Joon Chang, Owen Hatherley, and Tim Jackson, with editor Will Davis, whose exceptionally lucid introductory essay is worth the price of entry alone, acting as a guide.
The primary value of Economic Science Fictions consists in its appeal for a mode of radicalism that combines imagination and rigour. Any realisable new economics, like the best sci-fi, must both extend the imagination and be constructed according to a robust internal logic. As Davies asks: 'Where is the Bauhaus for economic reform? Where is the futurist manifesto for a different form of money or property?' This collection captures something of the energy of those early 20th-century manifestos, offering windows onto new horizons that excite because they seem within our reach.
By taking science fiction seriously as a predictive discipline—and by underscoring some of the fictions that uphold contemporary economics—Davies puts these two worlds in close contact.