Dystopian fiction and radical politics


Sunday, August 2, 2020

Let the Game Do Its Work

This blog has been quiet for a while, as I've been working on several ambitious projects related to its subject matter. The first fruits of this labor are rolling out today. The announcement:

From Rollerball to Battle Royale to The Hunger Games, readers and moviegoers have flocked to spectacle dystopias -- a genre of fiction in which a dysfunctional society is centered around a terrible, violent form of entertainment. J.M. Berger, author of Extremism and The Turner Legacy, provides a history of the spectacle dystopia from its almost-forgotten origins in 1878 through modern incarnations such as The Running Man and The Purge franchise, looking at how these works came to be and how they have spilled over into the real world in unexpected and sometimes dangerous ways.  
Let the Game Do Its Work is a short history of this popular genre, and also a guide to help readers discover obscure works that they may have missed. The monograph is being offered free for a limited time on Amazon Kindle and for $1.99 thereafter. It will also be free to users of Kindle Unlimited for the indefinite future.  
Let the Game Do Its Work is an 11,000 word monograph, excerpted from a longer book-length project I've been working on for some years, a comprehensive history of the dystopian genre and its effect on real-world politics. I've written a substantial amount of the book, but there's still more to go. I decided to publish this now, in part to coincide with a discussion of this topic on The Loopcast this week. Depending on feedback and sales for this short piece, I may pursue a Kickstarter, Patreon or other crowd-funded approach to help me complete the longer book.

So if you're interested in seeing more writing from me on this subject, please do read, borrow, buy and share Let the Game Do Its Work. I hope you enjoy it.




Books/short stories read: 95

Films and TV series watched: 124


The Turner Diaries, the infamous racist dystopian novel by neo-Nazi William Luther Pierce, has inspired more than 200 murders since its publication in 1978, including the single deadliest act of domestic terrorism in U.S. history, the Oklahoma City bombing.

The book is arguably the most important single work of white nationalist propaganda in the English language, but it is not a singular artifact. The Turner Diaries is part of a genre of racist dystopian propaganda dating back to the U.S. Civil War. A new paper from J.M. Berger documents the books that directly and indirectly inspired Turner and examine the extensive violence that the novel has inspired.



The First Dystopia

Supergirl: Man of Steel

Deliver Us From Dystopia

When? A Prophetical Novel of the Very Near Future

The Turner Diaries on PBS American Experience

Logan's Run

Dystopian Robo-Call

The Spook Who Sat by the Door

The Turner Legacy

Racism and Radiophones


J.M. Berger is an author, consultant and analyst studying extremism. He is an associate fellow with the International Centre for Counter-Terrorism -- The Hague and a fellow with George Washington University's Program on Extremism. For more about Berger, click here.


"...smart, granular analysis..."

ISIS: The State of Terror
"Jessica Stern and J.M. Berger's new book, "ISIS," should be required reading for every politician and policymaker... Their smart, granular analysis is a bracing antidote to both facile dismissals and wild exaggerations... a nuanced and readable account of the ideological and organizational origins of the group." -- Washington Post

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    "...a timely warning..."

    Jihad Joe: Americans Who Go to War in the Name of Islam:
    "At a time when some politicians and pundits blur the line between Islam and terrorism, Berger, who knows this subject far better than the demagogues, sharply cautions against vilifying Muslim Americans. ... It is a timely warning from an expert who has not lost his perspective." -- New York Times

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