I’m using “class” in the statistically descriptive sense, but my conception of politics is not far from Marx’s vision of interclass struggle and warfare.
Inspired by JCW’s definitions of science fiction and fantasy stories. In brief, they are guided tours of the imagination.
For example, it is commonplace in science fiction to use strange words or to use ordinary words in strange ways, to imply rather than state explicitly a how the new world differs from ours.
Let me use an oft repeated example,. In the story BEYOND THIS HORIZON, Heinlein writes the simple sentence, “The door dilated.”
These words would be gobbledygook in a mainstream novel, but a science fiction reader is expected by the terms of the unspoken contract to use his imagination to fill in the details.
The other half of the contract is that the writer tacitly promises to have thought through the obvious and also the surprising side effects world, and fill in such blanks later as strange words and strange scenes place before the reader’s wondering gaze.
The reader is asked to make a leap of the imagination and the writer promises to catch him.
This is the same deal that mystery writers make with their readers, but with we science fiction writers the mystery is how the strange world (or an invader from it) actually operates.
SCANNERS LIVE IN VAIN by Cordwainer Smith is a symphony of such half-hints and references of strangeness.
Martel was angry. He did not even adjust his blood away from anger. He stamped across the room by judgment, not by sight. When he saw the table hit the floor, and could tell by the expression on Luci’s face that the table must have made a loud crash, he looked down to see if his leg were broken. It was not. Scanner to the core, he had to scan himself. The action was reflex and automatic. The inventory included his legs, abdomen, Chestbox of instruments, hands, arms, face, and back with the mirror. Only then did Martel go back to being angry. He talked with his voice, even though he knew that his wife hated its blare and preferred to have him write.
“I tell you, I must cranch. I have to cranch. It’s my worry, isn’t it?”
The upper class has no use for imagination- all’s right in the world and everything is already the way it should be. The lower class simply has no imagination, or so little that they can barely grok the basic premise of American Idol (someone as ordinary as YOU may be CHOSEN by the spirits of popularity for elevation to demigodhood).
It’s the middle class that often has trouble accepting their place in things. They suffer from intense class envy, they seek “self-actualization” and embark on happiness projects. They believe in meritocracy and hold fervent political opinions, and talk about the way things should be. They fixate on the future, while the upper and lower classes fixate on the past and the present, respectively.
Imagination is the characteristic mark of the middle class. They are the source of every aberration in the natural state of human society, that of rulers and slaves.