This article by Foz Meadows is a good read https://www.blackgate.com/2016/12/07/unempathic-bipeds-of-failure-the-relationship-between-stories-and-politics/
It’s an interesting take on the issue and takes in books that people might not immediately think of as being politically sophisticated (or in anyway sophisticated in the case of Raymond E. Fiest’s Magician series)
while reading A Darkness at Sethanon, I was struck by one of the most important realizations about narrative of my young life. In the book, the heroes had just encountered a powerful dark army and were rushing to tell their allies of the unprecedented danger – yet when they reached the nearest stronghold, the commander in charge didn’t believe their claims that an ancient evil, long-prophesied and rooted in magic, was on his doorstep. My first reaction to his doubt was a surge of outrage: having just “seen” the army myself through the eyes of the protagonists, I knew the threat – to say nothing of magic itself – was very real. How could anyone doubt them? I thought to myself. It’s so obviously true!
And this is when the epiphany struck. Thoughts churning, I realized in the very next breath that, from the commander’s perspective, the truth wasn’t obvious at all, and that if someone in real life ever approached me with a similarly outlandish claim, I’d likely dismiss them, too. I was – and still am – an atheist: I didn’t believe in gods and magic, just like the doubting commander; the only difference between us was that I had an omniscient perspective on the truth of his world that he, as an individual, lacked. I’d started reading the story in large part because I wanted to suspend disbelief in the non-existence of magic, but until that moment, I hadn’t considered that doing so involved a non-superficial shift in my perspective, not just of what was possible, but of people. For the first time, I realized the power of stories to make the reader sympathize with attitudes beyond their own, and the specific ability of SFF as a genre to accomplish this by retelling familiar dilemmas in unfamiliar settings.
Fantasy stories, even the most cookie-cutter generic write up of somebody’s D&D campaign contain political aspects at multiple levels. I really like Meadow’s example above because politics is often around decision making in arenas of risk where there are issues of truth and trustworthiness. Consider the politics of global warming for example.
The article takes in other works including the Handmaids Tale but also Bioware’s epic fantasy game Dragon Age and Meadow’s encounter with UKIP supporter who was a surprisingly big fan of the game [mind you, I once knew a conservative in the 1980s who was virulent Thatcher supporter who was also a big fan of Billy Bragg – people are weird].
All good stuff.
And for an extra cherry on the top – the article has made Vox Day very mad because Foz Meadows says this:
For the past few years, the Sad and Rabid Puppies – guided by an actual neo-Nazi – have campaigned against what they perceive as the recent politicization of SFF as a genre, as though it’s humanly possible to write a story involving people that doesn’t have a political dimension; as though “political narrative” means “I disagreed with the premise or content, which makes it Wrong” and not “a narrative which contains and was written by people.”
Poor Vox is very very cross that somebody might say something on the internet that he feels might not be true!
I have written to John O’Neill, my former editor at Black Gate, asking him to remove this false, malicious, and materially damaging libel directed at me, and by extension, the Sad and Rabid Puppies.
Simple solution for both John O’Neill and Foz Meadows that should satisfy Vox completely. They need only say that calling Vox a neo-Nazi is “rhetoric” and all should be forgiven.
*[for the record I don’t think Vox is a neo-Nazi. A misogynistic krypto-Fascist who pushes anti-Semitic propaganda and who likes to celebrate violent extremist murderers and supports men sexually assaulting members of their family but maybe not a neo-Nazi]