Making the Men of Tomorrow: American Science Fiction and the Politics of Masculinity, 1965 – 1974
Suggesting that the political diversity of American science fiction during the 1960s and early 1970s constitutes a response to the dominance of social liberalism throughout the 1940s and 1950s, I argue in Making the Men of Tomorrow that the development of new hegemonic masculinities in science fiction is a consequence of political speculation. Focusing on four representative and influential texts from the 1960s and early 1970s, Philip K. Dick’s The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch and Ubik, Robert A. Heinlein’s The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress, and Ursula K. Le Guin’s The Dispossessed, this thesis explores the relationship between different conceptions of hegemonic masculinity and three separate but related political ideologies: the social ethic, market libertarianism, and socialist libertarianism. In the first two chapters in which I discuss Dick’s novels, I argue that Dick interrogates organizational masculinity as part of a larger project that suggests the inevitable infeasibility of both the social ethic and its predecessor, social liberalism. In the next chapter, I shift my attention to Heinlein’s The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress as a way of showing how, unlike Dick, other authors of the 1960s and early 1970s sought to move beyond social liberalism by imagining how new political ideologies, in this case market libertarianism, might change the way men see themselves. Having demonstrated how the libertarian potential of Heinlein’s novel is ultimately undermined by its insistent and uncompromising biological determinism, I then discuss how Le Guin’s The Dispossessed uses the socialist libertarianism of the moon Anarres to suggest a more egalitarian form of masculinity, one that makes possible, to some extent at least, a future in which men might embrace not only the mutual aid of socialism, but also the primacy of individual rights that is at the heart of all forms of libertarianism and liberalism.