A popular front, a popular future : the emergence of a radical science fiction




Cashbaugh, Sean Francis

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With the rise of the Popular Front during the 1930s, the American Left came together under the symbols of the “people” and “America,” and as its ranks swelled with modernity’s disenfranchised, radicals utilized the structures and discourses of modernity in the name of political struggle against exploitive American capitalism and fascism abroad. Science fiction and its devoted fan community were among these structures and discourses. Though both were largely conservative, entwined with American corporate capitalism, one group of fans embraced Communism and hoped to politicize science fiction and its fandom. The Michelists, as they called themselves, worked through the established channels of science fiction and fandom advocating a unique Marxist understanding of science fiction. This report situates them within the Popular Front, particularly its discourses of science and popular culture, and highlights how the particularities of the genre and its fandom shaped their political beliefs and actions.



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