Poli Sci Fi

I am thrilled to share that my co-editor, Justin Vaughn, and I have just published the book, Poli Sci Fi, with Routledge. The collected works feature several different authors, including three other bloggers from the Quantitative Peace. The volume connects central research and themes of political science to science fiction films and TV shows (specific episodes). The target audience for the book is first or second year undergraduate students; a potential introductory course on political science could focus on understanding political science through science fiction (the book closely follows several introductory political science texts). Naturally, other audiences certainly can enjoy the book as well.

Often, introductory chapters are there as a way to tie a book together and readers will often skip them due to the presumption that they lack meaningful arguments aside from those found later in the book. In our brief introduction (available in its entirely on Google Books), Justin and I argue that science fiction matters to political science as much of the research in political science focuses not on just the past trends of political phenomena (especially by way of institutions and behavior), but also on the counterfactual. Science fiction gives us latitude to explore the counterfactual by postulating a different past (or future); the writer’s interpolation of that alternative history plays out through the film. Where we can identify what lines up with what we know in political science, we can evaluate, critique, embrace, and discuss the author’s interpretation of the proposed set of facts on causation. This provides a great setting for students, instructors, and experts alike to bring their knowledge to the table and engage each other in the context of the work.

Part of my interest in co-editing this book, beyond being a science fiction and political science nerd, is that I had previously blogged on the connections on Star Wars and civil war. My chapter explores this in more detail and discusses the Rebel’s Dilemma from both the perspective of the Empire and the Rebel Alliance.

Beyond my own contribution, several QP bloggers took up their pen to contribute to the volume.

Benjamin Farrer tackles rational choice by exploring its behavioral extreme in the film Equilibrium. He uses the movie as a starting point to examine the theory-building utility of rational choice and formal theory.

Julie VanDusky-Allen examines V for Vendetta as a path to understand the forces that are causal of and correlates related to democratic breakdown.

Michael E. Flynn provides the final chapter of the book and explores how bureaucratic politics and civil-military relations can influence foreign policy. To demonstrate these concepts, he uses the Battlestar Galactica television series reboot.

You can find the full table of contents on the Amazon page for the Kindle version.

Additionally, for bonus topics not covered in the book, guest blogger Carla Martinez Machain previously wrote here on fictional political scientists, Chad Clay on regime types across science fiction universes, and Ben Farrer wrote on Queen Elsa’s plans for Arendelle.

About Michael A. Allen

Michael is an Assistant Professor in Political Science at Boise State University with a focus in International Relations, Comparative Politics, and Methodology (quantitative and formal). His work includes issues related to military basing abroad, asymmetric relations, cooperation, and conflict. He received his Ph.D from Binghamton University in 2011.

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