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Otherworldly Politics

, 176 pages
May 2015



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Otherworldly Politics

The International Relations of Star Trek, Game of Thrones, and Battlestar Galactica

To help students think critically about international relations and politics, Stephen Benedict Dyson examines the fictional but deeply political realities of three television shows: Star Trek, Game of Thrones, and Battlestar Galactica. Deeply familiar with the events, themes, characters, and plot lines of these popular shows, students can easily draw parallels from fictive worlds to contemporary international relations and political scenarios. In Dyson’s experience, this engagement is frequently powerful enough to push classroom conversations out into the hallways and onto online discussion boards.

In Otherworldly Politics, Dyson explains how these shows are plotted to offer alternative histories and future possibilities for humanity. Fascinated by politics and history, science fiction and fantasy screenwriters and showrunners suffuse their scripts with real-world ideas of empire, war, civilization, and culture, lending episodes a compelling intricacy and contemporary resonance.

Dyson argues that science fiction and fantasy television creators share a fundamental kinship with great minds in international relations. Creators like Gene Roddenberry, George R. R. Martin, and Ronald D. Moore are world-builders of no lesser creativity, Dyson argues, than theorists such as Woodrow Wilson, Kenneth Waltz, and Alexander Wendt. Each of these thinkers imagines a realm, specifies the rules of its operation, and by so doing seeks to teach us something about ourselves and how we interact with one another. A vital spur to creative thinking for scholars and an accessible introduction for students, this book will also appeal to fans of these three influential shows.

Stephen Benedict Dyson is an associate professor of political science at the University of Connecticut. He is the author of The Blair Identity: Leadership and Foreign Policy and Leaders in Conflict: Bush and Rumsfeld in Iraq.

"In Otherworldly Politics, Stephen Benedict Dyson draws upon insights from three highly regarded and deeply political television shows to convey the complexities of crisis management and other fundamental foreign policy issues. The scholarship is sound, and Dyson's insights into popular culture, along with subjects ranging from rational choice to robot wars, are appealing. This book will interest a wide range of readers."

"I wish I had been introduced to International Relations through a book like this. Dyson does a great job of weaving together the classics of American IR and Science Fiction in a lucid and entertaining style."

"... Otherworldly Politics is undeniably one of the most lively and ebullient books on IR theory on the market today. Its premise—that televised genre fiction can reveal truths about international relations just as easily as it does about character and plot—is well founded and expertly elaborated by Dyson’s spritely prose"

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