Speculative fiction/nonfiction about post-authoritarian-technocracy?
November 25, 2016 6:30 AM   Subscribe

I find myself wondering if the rise of global authoritarianism might be deeply—like, inextricably—connected to the maturing nature of technological surveillance, or perhaps just global telecommunications more generally. Since I'm probably not the first person to think about this, I'm curious what stories, novels, long-form articles, or other analyses (fiction or nonfiction) are out there that focus on speculating/extrapolating what happens after the age of the authoritarian panopticon. Bonus points for plausibility; not really looking to get too "far-out."
posted by CheesesOfBrazil to Media & Arts (10 answers total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
Cloud Atlas - Sloosha's Crossin' an' Ev'rythin' After (post-apocalyptic Hawaii) is the final story chronologically and comes after An Orison of Sonmi~451 (techno-totalitarian Korea).
posted by plep at 6:37 AM on November 25, 2016 [2 favorites]

David Brin.
posted by Leon at 6:39 AM on November 25, 2016

Also Last and First Men. 20th century European wars are supplanted by the American-Chinese World State which eventually falls when it runs out of natural resources, but that's only in the early chapters - there are 17 more human species, millions of years and 2 more planets to go. (It is pretty far-out though).
posted by plep at 6:41 AM on November 25, 2016

Anything by William Gibson in the past decade: Pattern Recognition, Spook Country, and The Peripheral.
posted by nickggully at 7:52 AM on November 25, 2016 [3 favorites]

Jo Walton's Farthing, Ha'penny and Half a Crown are about life in a post-WW2 fascist Brittan where Nazi Germany never fell. The three books are slices of life in an authoritarian dictatorship.

Not a so much technological panopticon, but written very much as a reaction to the changes that happened in the UK through the late 2000s (and which are continuing today).
posted by bonehead at 8:07 AM on November 25, 2016 [2 favorites]

On similar lines to bonehead's suggestion, Fatherland - a detective story set in a world where Nazi Germany won in Europe
(but Japan was defeated by America), however where Nazi society has taken some steps towards softening over the years (whilst still being definitely totalitarian, but trying to suppress knowledge of its crimes).
posted by plep at 8:17 AM on November 25, 2016

Whoa. This answer disappeared twice. *looks over shoulder* Quick and dirty with no links this time...

Absolutely everything Philip K. Dick, especially Man in the High Castle (nods to other commenters recommending works where WWII turned out differently,) We Can Remember It For You Wholesale (adapted into 1990's Total Recall) Radio Free Albemuth, and the VALIS trilogy. Also, A Scanner Darkly. Also his personal journal where he tries to explain his life experiences and works, THE EXEGESIS OF PHILIP K DICK.

Lots of great podcast interviews with Tessa Dick his widow and other biographers and producers of adaptations of his work over at 42 Minutes and the other Sync Book Radio Podcasts. Search around their website or on iTunes. The truth is that Dick had a bunch of wacko precog and spiritual experiences that informed his work + he actually was tracked by the government during a period of time when it was mostly illegal for the US to do stuff like read a citizen's mail or spy on them otherwise (1960's and 1970's.) He was financially a failure most of his life and did not live to see the success his works have become.

If you check my posting history, you will find that I champion the Novel and Film CLOUD ATLAS nearly every chance I get. So pleased to see someone beat me to it this time!!!

I'm going to recommend a series of long agnd thoughtful discussions on the deeper history of WWII and the Nazis and and what happened post WWII in the US and abroad by researcher Joseph P. Farrell on a podcast called Forum Borealis that seems only to be available on YouTube or on their website. Their discussions are characterized by topics, so don't limit yourself to just their talks with Joseph Farrell. There is a discussion with Farrell on their website that is about consciousness and not history, and that one is really great, too.
posted by jbenben at 10:44 AM on November 25, 2016 [1 favorite]

Beyond Cloud Atlas, this is kind of a recurring theme in David Mitchell's writing. His first book Ghostwritten, which is a bunch of overlapping short stories and reads like a warm up for Cloud Atlas, has a pretty funny part involving a satellite that's become sentient and keeps calling in to a talk radio show.

More seriously, his 2014 novel The Bone Clocks, which is terrific all around, but in particular the final section of the book - it takes place on a small island off the coast of Ireland in 2043, imagining what life is like after a few decades of global info wars, climate change and mass human migration. That might be a bit too far on the 'real' end of the spectrum, as in really fucking terrifying.
posted by mannequito at 2:03 PM on November 25, 2016 [3 favorites]

Always Coming Home by Ursula K. Le Guin is an interesting example of this. The old world is gone, and the distant past breakdown is really vague. The only things left from before are some plastic crud and a satellite com console (which is not that important.)
posted by ovvl at 7:29 PM on November 25, 2016 [1 favorite]

Seconding recent Gibson: Pattern Recognition, Spook Country, and The Peripheral.

Make that: especially The Peripheral.
posted by jammy at 6:27 AM on November 26, 2016

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