What science fiction books from the 1980s don't assume the Soviet Union?
August 22, 2013 5:09 PM   Subscribe

I'm re-reading Eon by Greg Bear which is starts set in the near future (around 2000) from when it was published. The US and the USSR are of course still very antagonistic. This made me wonder: is there much science fiction published in the 1980s where the author doesn't assume the Soviet Union still exists (or alternately, it still exists but the US and it are not antagonistic)?

I'm obviously looking for stuff that has part of its setting that the USSR doesn't exist in the 1990s/early 2000s. That is, if the story is set in the near future (from publication, the 1990s and early 2000s), then the USSR is explicitly not the antagonistic Cold War enemy of the US (or has collapsed). Alternately, if the story is set further in the future and mentions the late 20th century and early 21st century history, the USSR/US relationship has changed from the antagonistic one that existed until the late 1980s.

On the one hand, the collapse of the Soviet Union was a big surprise so it's no wonder I can't think of any sci-fi where the author predicts that the US/USSR relationship would change drastically. On the other hand, sci-fi authors are sometimes amazingly prescient. So, did any sci-fi authors write (hopefully good!) stories before the Berlin Wall fell or glasnost got going that thought maybe the USSR wasn't going to be around that long?
posted by R343L to Writing & Language (6 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
It was one of the great profundities of my adult life that Arthur C. Clarke proposed exactly this in 2001: A Space Odyssey.
posted by halfbuckaroo at 5:48 PM on August 22, 2013

The TVTropes entry for The Great Politics Mess -Up actually provides a few examples of writers who came close to getting it right, most notably John Brunner's Stand on Zanzibar (USSR in decline by 2010 and essentially not communist) and James Hogan's Voyage from Yesteryear (USSR collapses in 2021).
posted by Monsieur Caution at 6:06 PM on August 22, 2013

Bruce Sterling's "Islands in the Net." Prescient in a lot of ways. Written in the late 80s.
posted by adamrice at 7:48 PM on August 22, 2013

Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan was released in the 80's, does that qualify canon that was originally written in the 60's? Going strictly by TOS canon:

By 1992, Khan Noonien Singh was in control of most of Asia and the Middle East. I assume the implication was that the USSR no longer existed at that point. Basically, by the mid-90's, the politics of the world had changed drastically, resulting in the Eugenics Wars, and there's no indication that the USSR existed during that time or for centuries afterward.

A TNG episode in 1987 included a starship plaque indicating it was built in the USSR, leading to speculation that the USSR reformed in the 24th century.

A VOY episode featured then-present-day 1996 Los Angeles, looking just like we were all familiar with it, and not like the aftermath of a World War.

Who knows? I'd just as soon take pure TOS canon as reject it all entirely for these purposes.
posted by WasabiFlux at 1:47 AM on August 23, 2013

Technically, the various codominium and motie books by Niven/Pournelle and various "co"authors might count.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 6:03 AM on August 23, 2013

Heinlein's Sixth Column is from much earlier, but predicts an ascendant Asia.
posted by BungaDunga at 9:00 PM on August 23, 2013

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