Future of immigration?
April 4, 2009 6:56 PM   Subscribe

Looking for sci-fi/speculative fiction that deals with the issue of colonization, immigration, and refugees. The more details the better! Specifically looking for stories that deal (at least partly) with the stories of the immigrants themselves, and not just the abstract idea.

Similar books I have enjoyed:
Sassinak by Anne McCaffrey & Elizabeth Moon
Old Man's War by John Scalzi
Ender's Game series
and the Children of Men movie (haven't read the book)
posted by sarahkeebs to Society & Culture (40 answers total) 20 users marked this as a favorite
I see that you are already familliar with Scalzi, but I would recomend continuing on with the series, particularly the third book "The Lost Colony."
posted by Bango Skank at 7:01 PM on April 4, 2009

Battlestar Galactica deals with some of the themes you mention. You might also consider post-apocalyptic fiction with themes of migration, like The Road by Cormac McCarthy and, more specific to your request, The Stand by Stephen King.
posted by telegraph at 7:04 PM on April 4, 2009

Ursula K. Le Guin's The Word for World Is Forest.
posted by PueExMachina at 7:22 PM on April 4, 2009

Allen Steele's Coyote series goes into the lives of the colonists in depth, as does Kim Stanley Robinson's Mars Trilogy.

Several of Heinlein's "juveniles" do as well, as despite having written for young adukts, I still enjoy re-reading them. In particular, Tunnel in the Sky (students on a "wilsderness survival" final exam become marooned), Farmer in the Sky. His Citizen of the Galaxy goes into depth a social structure necessary to enforce exogamy, and thus avoid both inbreeding and inter-ship fragmentization, in a loose-knit clan of interstellar traders; as if the Hanseatic League carried their families with them on ship. As always with Heinlein, the argument is presented by exposition.

His The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, almost entirely by exposition, examines the social questions involved in building a society on a a worlds where a population of convicts' descendants live in an anarchy, everyone lives underground, and men significantly outnumber women (and no, it isn't some silly Mad Max AnARchY!) .
posted by orthogonality at 7:27 PM on April 4, 2009 [1 favorite]

Anything by Sheri Tepper.
posted by Malla at 7:32 PM on April 4, 2009

Mrs. Quizicalcoatl suggests Kim Stanley Robinson's Mars series. The first in the series is called Red Mars. Perhaps Orson Scott Card's book Treason would work?
posted by Quizicalcoatl at 7:34 PM on April 4, 2009

By that I mean any book (Anything is not a title). Specifically, The Margarets is a fine example of all humanity forced into a refugee status.
posted by Malla at 7:35 PM on April 4, 2009

Mars Trilogy
The Dune series - stick with the first 6.

not really related to refugies but i found it very similiar to old mans war, Armor
posted by Black_Umbrella at 7:37 PM on April 4, 2009

In Quarantine by Greg Egan, Australia's arid centre is colonised by the Chinese and given the name New Hong Kong.

You may also enjoy Alive in Joberg, a short film by Neill Blomkamp, in which masses of destitute aliens seek refuge Johannesberg in South Africa in kilometre-long, dilapidated spaceships and then struggle to be treated equitably by the local human inhabitants. It's being expanded to a feature length version called District 9 (a reference to District Six in Cape Town).
posted by hot soup girl at 7:43 PM on April 4, 2009 [2 favorites]

CJ Cherryh's Foreigner series.
posted by st looney up the cream bun and jam at 7:52 PM on April 4, 2009

Most of Anne McCaffrey deals with that.

* Petaybee series- colonizing a sentient planet. A few generations into it, but pretty interesting/quirky society
* Freedom series- alien abduction and dropped onto a planet to colonize
* Tower series- not so heavy on this, but more about the developments that come from colonization + super-psychics who can move spaceships very fast.
* Doona- colonizing with another species at the same time.
posted by jenfullmoon at 8:02 PM on April 4, 2009

"Farmer in the Sky"
"Tunnel in the Sky"

If you liked Scalzi's "Old Man's War," then you should enjoy these by Heinlein.
posted by anansi at 8:23 PM on April 4, 2009

Firefly (a TV series by Joss Whedon) certainly deals with many of these themes, though not necessarily as primary subject material.
posted by Salvor Hardin at 8:23 PM on April 4, 2009

I won't win any snob points but the first of the Alien Nation novels (Day of Descent) was pretty awesome with the " interstellar refugees" idea.

It dealt with how US authorities set up a quarantine around the Newcomers' ship and tried to feed and set up a way of processing them.
posted by codswallop at 8:23 PM on April 4, 2009

Oh and, obviously, what the aliens made of what they experiencing. Hope, fear, confusion, etc.
posted by codswallop at 8:25 PM on April 4, 2009

You mentioned Elizabeth Moon- have you read 'Remnant Population'? It's very close to what you're looking for, and a terrific book.
posted by carterk at 8:42 PM on April 4, 2009

The movie & spin-off TV series "Alien Nation".
posted by GuyZero at 8:51 PM on April 4, 2009

Bruce Sterling's The Caryatids is all about riding the wave of "colonization, immigration, and refugees".
posted by bru at 9:28 PM on April 4, 2009

Time Enough for Love by Robert Heinlein.
Methusalah's Children " "
posted by damiano99 at 9:43 PM on April 4, 2009

Seconding Mars Trilogy by Kim Stanley Robinson, excellent reading IMO.
posted by Duke999R at 9:44 PM on April 4, 2009

I won't win any snob points but the first of the Alien Nation novels (Day of Descent) was pretty awesome with the " interstellar refugees" idea.

Having just rewartched the entire TV series, I think these are a great example of what the OP is looking for. So, so good, snob points or not.

Most of Anne McCaffrey deals with that.

Don't forget Dragonsdawn!

Other suggestions: Lilith's Brood by Octavia Butler (I'm reading it now and it's incredibly good) and the YA novels Earthseed and Farseed by Pamela Sargent.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 9:51 PM on April 4, 2009

Do I always mention Octavia Butler in threads asking for Science Fiction? 'Cause Parable of the Sower and Parable of the Talents are some of the books you are looking for. It's internal displacement in an America that's slowly collapsing into Balkanized chaos due to climate change & social problems, rather than nation-to-nation migration, but yes.

Hrm, there are also a bunch of Ursula LeGuin short stories that might fit; the novel that's perhaps closest is The Telling: It's about people who are religious and social outcasts and rebels due to a major societal shift (something like the Great Leap Forward); again, the theme is more internal turmoil than colonization, but there are a lot of aspects that are related to what you're looking for.

Someone suggested Cherryh; many of her books involve colonization of new worlds (several of which have intelligent species), and most of them also deal with the splintering of human culture as worlds are colonized. Cyteen, Downbelow Station, and Rider at the Gate / Cloud's Rider certainly deal with those topics.

(And I enthusiastically second Kim Stanley Robinson's Mars trilogy and Battlestar Galactica.)

I am quite sure that I am forgetting a great many books with the required themes, but I'll add 'em when I get a chance to stare at my bookshelves.
posted by ubersturm at 10:37 PM on April 4, 2009

Maureen McHugh's Mission Child deals with this.

I also recommend Cherryh — she doesn't always write explicitly about refugees, but almost all the stories she writes deal in some way with migrations or displacements of populations, their knock-on effects, and so on.

The hattifattetrix suggests Susan Palwick's Shelter.
posted by hattifattener at 10:48 PM on April 4, 2009

Bio of a Space Tyrant - series by Piers Anthony, where the main character Hope Hubris ascends from hispanic refugee to supreme leader (tyrant). The first book is called Refugee, where Hope and his family flee the homeworld in a ship with 100 other families. Deals with the human will to survive in the worst conditions possible.

I think this first book of the series is entirely appropriate for your search - quite dark, shocking but not unrealistic, makes a person think about the real situations happening today.
posted by lizbunny at 11:42 PM on April 4, 2009

Phil Dick's Martian Time Slip.
posted by Kirklander at 12:13 AM on April 5, 2009

I've got 100% refugees for ya: none of that optimistic successful or eventually-successful colonization by the burgeoning human civilization crap. In Gregory Benford's Galactic Center Series after the destruction of Earth there's a diaspora of humans across the galaxy. Humans are constantly fleeing from machine civilizations that basically rule everything. They find somewhere they can go unnoticed for a while and hunker down for a few generations but are eventually driven off (or are simply exterminated, or meet even more gruesome ends) by the encroaching machines.

Also, another classic is David Brin's Uplift Series. There's this Byzantine, highly formal and orderly intergalactic civilization and the last three books deal with this one planet where splinter subcultures of six different races have all set up illegal colonies that are sort of hippie communes, renouncing technology and going primitive. Free sample of one of those on Brin's site.
posted by XMLicious at 1:50 AM on April 5, 2009

Oh, totally forgot this article at io9. It reminded me of refugees from the future in the form of both Simak's Highway of Eternity and Our Children's Children as well as Michael Swanwick's painfully depressing "Radiant Doors"
posted by codswallop at 2:30 AM on April 5, 2009

Philip Jose Farmer, Riverworld series. All of humanity has been resurrected on a new world, scattered seemingly at random along a giant river. They have to try to re-develop civilization using rudimentary tools and resources.
posted by Infinite Jest at 3:08 AM on April 5, 2009

I came in here to say C.J. Cherryh's Foreigner but I guess I only get to second it. You have these issues compounded with racial tensions. Awesome book.
posted by whatzit at 3:17 AM on April 5, 2009

Another Ursula K. Le Guin - The Dispossessed
posted by Sitegeist at 3:41 AM on April 5, 2009

Snowcrash by Neal Stephenson has a sub-plot about boat people from Asia landing in America in a fairly near future. The Diamond Age by the same author has some similar themes with the idea that rather than nationhood you have allegiances to a culture (actually a corporation).
posted by bystander at 4:47 AM on April 5, 2009

The other day I finished The Legacy of Heorot by Niven, Pournelle and some third wheel. It's shit but fits the bill.
posted by turgid dahlia at 5:54 AM on April 5, 2009

Songs of Distant Earth by Arthur C. Clarke is right up your alley.
posted by baphomet at 8:03 AM on April 5, 2009

The Fifth Head of Cerberus, by Gene Wolfe, is just amazing.
posted by nicolas léonard sadi carnot at 8:50 AM on April 5, 2009

Hunter's Run by George R.R. Martin, Gardner Dozois, and Daniel Abraham mentions immigration / colonisation issues quite a bit.
posted by jzed at 12:30 PM on April 5, 2009

Many of Alistair Reynolds's works deal with refugee/migrant themes - Revelation Space, Redemption Ark, Absolution Gap, Chasm City, and several stories in the Galactic North and Zima Blue collections. I recommend Reynolds highly - he's one of my favorite (hard) SF authors.
posted by DavidNYC at 1:40 PM on April 5, 2009 [1 favorite]

The main character of Robert V.S. Redick's The Red Wolf Conspiracy is a refugee from a nation-state that was overrun by a massive empire, and is in ongoing danger of being cast into slavery if he loses his job aboard a sailing ship. The American version of the book isn't out yet, unfortunately.
posted by itstheclamsname at 6:05 PM on April 5, 2009

A few more that come to mind:

Charles Sheffield: The Ganymede Club, Cold as Ice, Dark as Day. Several characters are war refugees, though the stories themselves are mostly set a few decades after the war.

John Varley's stories in the Eight Worlds / Ophiuchi Hotline setting. Humanity has been kicked off Earth. The stories are mostly a bit later, not directly about the exodus.
posted by hattifattener at 7:38 PM on April 5, 2009

Check out the anthology So Long Been Dreaming: Postcolonial Science Fiction & Fantasy edited by Nalo Hopkinson, and I'd recommend Nalo Hopkinson's Brown Girl in The Ring.

I remember Samuel R. Delaney's Nova deals with colonization too, and I imagine many of his other novels would have multicultural themes.
posted by unicazurn at 7:50 PM on April 5, 2009

Speculative fictio that deal with an alternate now where israel didn't form and post-holocaust Jewish refugees settle, of all places, in alaska? The Yiddish Policeman's Union
posted by lalochezia at 10:54 PM on April 5, 2009

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