I've always loved science fiction, but I don't keep up with current writers. I imagine it's a byproduct of getting older, but my preference tends toward the writers of my childhood and adolescence, especially Isaac Asimov and Frederik Pohl.
Pohl wrote science fiction as social criticism, in the vein of Orwell and Aldous Huxley. My favorite is The Space Merchants, which Pohl wrote in collaboration with Cyril Kornbluth. It describes a world in which corporations hold complete and nearly unchallenged political power. It was written in 1952, when I was only one year old. It's solid and on-target criticism of the influence of money on U.S. politics, and it's also very, very funny.
Like most science fiction written as social criticism, the predictions made use of trends which were already occurring. U.S. corporate leaders already wielded influence far beyond their votes as individuals. Pohl just carried the logic of government as a machine for the generation of profit to its absurd logical conclusion.
A number of recent political developments made me think of Pohl and his writing. The first was the decision by the U.S. Supreme Court, which basically declared corporations as individuals with respect to political contributions. Another was the recent lawsuit by the Republican National Committee to eliminate their caps on contributions.
Here in the United States we've long been obsessed with business and commercial life. The use of the word "consumers" to describe the population is an indication of how our life and sense of self is defined by commercial transactions.
It probably sounds cliched and hackneyed, but I'm going to say it anyhow, because it's a truth we should repeat to ourselves often: There is more to life than money. The obsession with money, and its effects on both our personal quality of life and the state of our political enviroment is degrading and pernicious. It takes the form of a Madison Avenue culture which induces us to buy junk we don't need, a political culture in which we accept that a wealthy, tiny, segment of the population has enormously disproportionate clout, and diverts us from figuring out what factors really go into a good quality of life.
In 1984 (a fitting year for it) Pohl wrote a followup to Space Merchants entitled The Merchants' War Both Space Merchants and The Merchants' War shine a spotlight on an aspect of U.S. culture which we don't question nearly enough.