I asked this in the Discord but I may as well ask it here also. Is there any end of year lists that rank (or whatever) the best anti-capitalist stories that were released this year? Between things like Disco Elysium and Parasite I feel like there was a few this year. If there isn’t what would you put on your own personal list?
If you want a book about what would happen if all the networks went down and how the world might be able to change… Infinite Detail by Tim Maughan is worth a look.
Not everything in here is from 2019 but you may be interested in this episode of Our opinions are correct by Annalee Newitz and Charlie Jane Anders: Episode 38: The new anti-capitalist science fiction (it’s also an overall fantastic podcast)
Specifically, they mention:
Want , by Cindy Pon
Broken Earth Trilogy, by N.K. Jemisin
The Summer Prince , by Alaya Dawn Johnson
An Unkindness of Ghosts , by Rivers Solomon
The Good Place, created by Michael Schur
Walkaway, by Cory Doctorow
The Lamb Will Slaughter the Lion , by Margaret Killjoy
Waste Tide , by Chen Quifan
Avatar, dir. James Cameron
The Expanse , created by James S.A. Corey
Sourdough , by Robin Sloan
Black Hole, by Bucky Sinister
Docile , by K.M. Szpara
Direct Action , by L.A. Kauffman
Downsizing, dir. Alexander Payne
Us, dir. Jordan Peele
■■■■■ Planet, written by Kelly Sue DeConnick and illustrated by Valentine De Landro
Rosewater and Insurrection , by Tade Thompson
Everfair , by Nisi Shawl
Trail of Lightning , by Rebecca Roanhorse
It’s been one heck of a year for movie about evil rich people in wacky mansions (with dark sinister secrets hiding within) between Parasite, Knives Out, and the way underrated Ready or Not. I’d also strongly recommend Us and The Last Black Man in San Francisco if you’re looking for a movie about forgotten underclasses. Hustlers is also a decent “fuck you” to Wall Street, but is also intoxicated with the same wealth and power that comes with all Scorsese-style crime movies. Quite a few of these are vying for places on my personal Top 15 of the year.
But all these are more issues of class struggle, I haven’t seen anything as bluntly “fuck capitalism, go home” as last year’s Sorry to Bother You.
Sorry to Bother You is definitely a weird film, but in terms of theatrically released movies this decade, I don’t think any are as explicitly anti-capitalist. I also quite like Pride and The Snows of Kilimanjaro; the former slightly downplays the explicitly Marxist politics of some of the characters (it is based on a true story), but it’s still quite good and definitely not shy about being pro-worker.
The television show Damnation is a 30’s period drama about a farmer’s strike, and Bloody Harlan. Sarazanmai is an anime that is oddly similar, thematically, to Sorry to Bother You - the villain in both is Amazon, even - except this is very gay and somehow much, much weirder.
Disco Elysium is great, as you mentioned. There were a couple of big games that did interesting things with anticapitalist themes - Fallout: New Vegas, Wolfenstein: The New Colossus, maybe Vampyr - but the indies really brought the best stuff. Night in the Woods, of course. Colestia is a creator with a lot of little communist games, my favourite is A Bewitching Revolution because I like witches. Diaries of a Spaceport Janitor is one of my favourites of the decade, but that is in part because it inspired Gender Introspection so I am biased there. Anarcute, Hypnospace Outlaw, Even in Arcadia, just a few others that come to mind with anticapitalist themes.
edit: Oh heck, and Tacoma. That game rocked.
I’ll post again later once I’ve looked through my books, I know I’ve read some good ones.
My promised book recommendations, which - oops! - are pretty much all fantasy and science fiction because I barely read any fiction that isn’t fantasy. HMU if you want nonfiction recs though.
Pretty much anything by Margaret Killjoy, including her aforementioned The Lamb Will Slaughter the Lion and its sequel. She has a few short stories on Tor, on her Patreon, and around the web. I really liked her story, The Free Orcs of Arcadia, about a bunch of metalhead anarchists who go live in the woods as orcs. (Mood.)
While not exactly fiction, China Miéville wrote a narrative account of the October Revolution called - well - October. I like his writing style, so it was an enjoyable history book. But if you’d prefer to stick to fantasy and science fiction, he also wrote The Last Days of New Paris, Railsea, and my favourite: Embassytown. He also did a brief run writing Dial H when the New 52 was still a thing.
Nalo Hopkinson needs more love, she’s done a few things this decade but my favourite is Falling in Love with Hominids, a short story collection. The story Shift, a retelling of Shakespeare’s ‘Tempest’, is my personal rec, but read them all - and anything else of hers (this decade or otherwise) you can.
Most of them weren’t written this decade, but since her death, they’ve made some great collections of Ursula K. LeGuin’s works, including her later poetry and some unpublished interviews and short stories. In terms of fantasy and science fiction, there may not be a better anticapitalist writer.
Also, one other recommendation that isn't explicitly anticapitalist but it shares themes.
Bee and Puppycat, an animated web and comic book series, is about a temp worker and her puppy-cat getting fantasy/sci-fi temp jobs so they can pay for food and maybe a leather jacket. The fantastical elements somehow still maintain the atmosphere of temp/gig work; one of my favourite lines is a farmer who hires Bee and Puppycat telling them, after they ask for pay: “My payment was supposed to be the sweet release of death.” Who hasn’t had that guy as their boss, honestly.
Bonus rec for audiobook listeners, especially ones who’ve ever listened to any of Jim Sterling’s podcasts, but Conrad Zimmerman did an audiobook of The Communist Manifesto that I quite enjoyed. Not fiction, but it’s a great reading for $1 if you’ve been meaning to give Marx a read.
I’ve read A Country of Ghosts by Margeret Killjoy wich I enjoyed a lot and The Free Orcs sounds great. Now I just need to find somewhere I can get it.
I still think about this story… probably one of my favorite depictions of a post scarcity society and what life would look like people weren’t alienated from work.