Where Are the Iraq War/US Civil Liberties Stories?

Rather, my reading is getting more political lately and I’d love some recommendations of short fiction and novels dealing with issues related to the Iraqi War and the curtailing of civil liberties here at home–especially SF/F/H. (Excepting the Farah M. antho, which I know about.)



  1. Jeff VanderMeer says

    That counts as far as I’m concerned. I’m also interested in seeing how far this aspect of the real world has permeated into writers’ fiction.


  2. ChrisR says

    Well, not SF/F, but Denis Johnson’s new novel “Tree of Smoke” about Vietnam which is supposed to be in a roundabout way an anti-war novel about Iraq.

  3. says

    I have thought about writing a story on this subject, but I find it to be a difficult one to tackle. Or to be more precise–I know it would be hard to publish, since most publishers are pretty squeamish about extreme stuff. And writing an Iraq story that is not extreme would be a cop out I think.

    Sorry if that is off topic. But maybe other writers are holding back for similar reasons?

  4. says

    You might see the list of about 5 dozen Iraq war novels, plays, graphic novels, and fiction films at this link: http://apragmaticpolicy.wordpress.com/2007/11/05/iraq-war-fiction-3/

    Most are not fantasy but some are.

    There’s this notable satire – from the Appalachian Mountains, one of the earliest and most damning satires of the US invasion and occupation of Iraq – Please Attack Appalachia: http://liblit.wordpress.com/2007/10/05/please-attack-appalachia-by-appalachian-author/

    Myself, in addition to a novel on the Iraq war (largely though not entirely realism), I’ve written dozens, I guess, of fantasy shorts on the war, and related matters – many found here: http://apragmaticpolicy.wordpress.com/featured-postslinks/tropetopia/

    And this further novel opening – The Shape of Tomorrow – Deadline Iraq: http://apragmaticpolicy.wordpress.com/2007/09/27/the-shape-of-tomorrow-deadline-iraq-2/

    You might also see Laura Carlsen’s brief year 2020 satire on immigration, Slow Slide to Barbarity: http://liblit.wordpress.com/2007/11/04/the-slow-slide-to-barbarity-by-laura-carlsen/

    And Joe Emersberger’s central use of fantasy in his story on Canadian-US depredations in Haiti, The Publisher: http://liblit.wordpress.com/2007/10/08/the-publisher-by-joe-emersberger/

    Also Paul Street’s satiric fantastic report on “the establishment’s living dead” – Dead Man Talking: http://liblit.wordpress.com/2007/10/26/dead-man-walking-by-paul-street/

  5. says

    Brian De Palma discussed his film REDACTED yesterday on “Fresh Air” on NPR; it appears to be an updating of CASUALTIES OF WAR from Vietnam to Iraq, but presented as a montage of photographs, video clips, website visuals, etc., etc., and concluding with a series of photographs of Iraqi dead that the producers of the film found potentially litigation-worthy and so blacked out the eyes of the “victims,” even though some of the photos were posed shots. De Palma regards the producers’ actions as an insupportable redaction of his film. It’s interesting, by the way, that few, if any, of these antiwar films set in Iraq are doing well at the box office.

  6. Spencer says

    Lucius Shepard’s story “A Walk in the Garden” is set during the Iraq War, only with more futuristic technology.

  7. says

    My own The Alchemy of War (in EV Issue 12) was inspired by the current state of fear controlling our world. The same with my forthcoming story, The Ghosts We Have Become (PostScripts Issue 14- with a special cover made specifically for my story! Swoon!). Both are about a mythical city called Silas Bay, which is currently at War with the Yellow Coat republic.

    I think these have some political statements, but not many. it’s more about the emotional response to the war and world that the US has become.

  8. Phil Maloney says

    On the civil liberties front, there’s Alex Irvine’s scathing “Retroactive Anti-terror”, which originally appeared on Salon.com, and is reprinted under the slightly more subtle title of “Peter Skilling” in his excellent collection “Pictures from an Expedition”, from Night Shade.

  9. Jeff VanderMeer says


    I’m just curious how far it’s permeates into the fictional psyche, if you know what I mean. (And Doug–I do have your email; I’m just under some tight deadlines right now which is why I haven’t responded.)


  10. says

    My novel Cowboy Angels, I guess, although it’s about imperialism in general, also my short story ‘Rocket Boy’, published in a Baen anthology edited by Joe Haldeman whose title I forget (well, they didn’t send me a copy). It’s available on my web site or somewhere on the Baen site. Oh, and Whole Wide World cracked on about surveillance and terrorism back in 2001…

    But enough about me. I’m surprised at how few stories and novels have been so far that use the Ongoing Situation overtly or covertly as their starting point, frankly. From either the pro- or anti- side. Surely after four years there’s been enough time to reflect on what’s happening and where it might take us if it goes on. Or have I missed a bunch of good stuff? I’ll check out Tony Christi’s list, certainly.

  11. says

    On the Iraq Front the print version of Anthony Lappe and Dan Goldman’s Shooting War has just been launched this week in the US (came out last week in the UK), with about 2/3 more material than the excellent webcomic version from last year. It’s been high on my ‘I want’ list for months – Anthony has been out there as a reporter himself which adds some verisimilitude to the tale I think and Dan’s artwork is amazing. Glad to see it picking up some good reviews in the UK mainstream press (SF writer and comics nut James Lovegrove gave it a glowing review and I can vouch for Jim as a man of good taste). Need to grab an hour or two to write up a proper review of it myself, just finished reading my copy, strongly suspect it will feature on my best of year list

  12. says

    Paul–Good point about there not being a lot. (BTW–love your work.) I’ll check out your novel. And any time you need anything mentioned on the Amazon blog, drop me a line.

    Yes, Joe! Good point. I’m reviewing it for Bookslut next month, Shoot War! Loved it.


  13. says

    Hi Jeff – I’m blushing. Joe Hill published a short story, ‘Thumbprint’ in the latest Postscript magazine, which has its basis in Abu Ghraib. William Gibson’s Spook Country is I think definitely influenced by the ongoing, aside from the MacGuffin. And Ian McEwan’s Saturday is a prowar (or pro British status quo) Iraq novel (there’s a literary spat about Iraq and our stance towards Muslims going on in the pages of the Guardian at the moment; McEwan has just rushed to Martin Amis’s defense after Amis was accused of being a racist for entertaining ideas about profiling). Oh, and of course Amis has written a short story about 9/11. So there *is* stuff out there (the list Tony Christi gave a pointer to was most useful), but there doesn’t seem to be much sf or fantasy.