Stalin in Space

When people ask me why I critique science fiction, this is why

Damien Walter
2 min readMar 26, 2024

So. Let’s recap.

The box office smash of the year is a scifi movie with “too much sand” and a warning against religious wars, released IN THE MIDDLE of a bitter religious war.

Netflix are streaming Liu Cixin’s not very well disguised argument for authoritarian government as the only hope of survival in a “Dark Forest” reality, as another war is being fought between authoritarian and democratic powers.

And Disney are gearing up for season 2 of Young Stalin in Space, even as general disillusionment with the economy is re-awakening the spectre of communism in the Western world.

When people ask me why I critique science fiction, this is why.

Because the vast majority of people who watch Andor won’t have a clue it’s inspired by the early life of Joseph Stalin. Almost nobody who watches 3 Body Problem will have even an inkling of Liu Cixin’s long history of propagandistic stories. And the majority of the audience for DUNE will walk out of the cinema thinking nothing more than BIG ASS WORMS!!

Science fiction flys under the radar. It launches sneak attacks on the collective unconscious, and rewrites the mythos of our times.

But even for scifi, the Narkina 5 episodes in Andor were sneaky and underhand. I’ve spoken to people who are still having nightmares about the scifi prison colony / forced labour camp.

Watch the full video essay on the Science Fiction channel



Damien Walter

I tell stories about the future, technology and culture. Published by The Guardian, WIRED, BBC etc.