Science Fiction Today – Queens

QIt’s only a little bit of a stretch to include this in A to Z. Okay, I mean Queens and Kings, royalty in general. They still exist in our world today, often as figureheads to democratic or socialist (or democratic socialist) governments. Then there are leaders of other names who only wish they were Kings and Queens.

So now, a declarative statement: there are not a lot of democracies in Science Fiction. There are a lot of dystopias run by a small group holding all the power. There are a few bigger universes, with democracies, like Star Wars and Star Trek – for the former, that democracy falls; for the latter, we don’t watch that democracy in action, but instead the military arm. We get evil corporations working outside the law. We get captain’s rule like in Mass Effect or Battlestar Galactica.

And then, we get Queens and Kings. New royalty or ancient lines. Emperors and Empresses and Empires. So let’s look at one classic and one really recent example of royalty in Science Fiction!

Galactic Empire – Dune

By the time we get to Dune, the galaxy has had a monarchy for a long time. Hereditary rulers run the planets, a council of those monarchs meet and politic, and there’s an Emperor ruling over all of them. The Emperor can be shady and backstab, which makes the plot happen!

But hey, I called this post “Queens,” so let’s look at that for a moment. When there’s royalty, there’s so much stock taken in birth and breeding. It leads to characters like the Duke Leto, who can’t marry the woman he loves, because she’s not of the proper breeding. It is his greatest regret in life.

And the Lady Jessica is kind of a badass. And even up to the last line in the book, she understands royalty. Understands that necessity makes it so that they must marry each other, and carry on that way. But history? History will call women like her wives – she’s the real Queen in that story.

Galaxy as Royal Playground – Jupiter Ascending

Hey, let’s look at another Queen-like character – Jupiter in Jupiter Ascending. She shows part of the reason that royalty exist in Science Fiction stories – and some other fictional stories, as well. Having royal blood makes Jupiter a “chosen one” for no other reason than that.

And the movie somewhat functions as a tour of her royal family and their insane life. They inherit and control whole planets. They raise and cultivate the populations of these planets, for the purpose of harvesting them later. Because the souls of the innocent are delicious.

If the royalty in Dune seems bad, it’s because you just read a section about the Harkonnens. In Jupiter Ascending, it really is just a bad situation. We see three very different personalities and attitudes in her siblings, and it’s still a broken system and broken economy. Which is the sort of thing that royalty can perpetuate in a society, or maybe especially in a story.

Okay, little longer post. Here, have an A-to-Z music moment:

This post is part of the April A to Z Challenge, and also part of our occasional series on Science Fiction Today. You can read an explanation of both here. We are striving to keep these posts short, and know that we have not covered every example or angle – plenty of room for discussion!

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12 responses to “Science Fiction Today – Queens

  1. I’ve never understood the relationship to Monarchy in the Star Wars universe. Queen Amidala is the “democratically” elected Queen of Naboo. I’m sure there’s some weird explanation for that but I’m not buying it. Much like Leia is “Princess” of Alderaan, which if I’m not mistaken was not a monarchy in the proper sense either.

    Now that I think about it, I think that George Lucas just doesn’t know how monarchy works…

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Jupiter Ascending is a pretty clear commentary on trampling the poor to “feed” the rich… but that doesn’t stop it from being an interesting look at how space royalty might work. 😉

    Also, for many years now I’ve wanted a West Wing-style political Star Trek show. So far no one has offered me one.

    And for your first Chappie reference: What sort of government do you think we’d call “rule of the machines”? Aristocracy?

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    • Some version of Technocracy? That’s a good question. Does Chappie give us an answer?

      And yeah, there’s plenty of not-veiled commentary in Jupiter Ascending. But underneath it all… Jupiter is only a Chosen One (a favorite trope of the Wachowskis) because she is royalty. Because of her genetics.

      And let me know when you start the Kickstarter for that Star Trek show…

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      • Chappie does not give us an answer, but we all need to go see it so it’ll make enough money for the two sequels Blomkamp had in mind. Because I’m pretty sure it would go there at the end of a second movie.

        I think fantasy and sci-fi are especially prone to hanging on to the idea of royalty, because they have an “excuse” and it makes plotting easy. If you HAVE a special bloodline of ultra-werewolves, well then of COURSE they’re royalty. It’s like an aspect of the “fantastic racism” present in most high fantasy.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m sure democracy doesn’t work so well in fiction… there’s that whole… oh, nothing ever getting done, haha. But in all seriousness, it’s easier for plot purposes if The Person in Charge can just make a command and it gets executed, rather than… “Okay, well, let’s organize our proposal, send it through the various chambers of the government to be approved, maybe, by the Elected Official.” People would cry “useless exposition!” and put the book down. 😄

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Pingback: Science Fiction Today – Robots | Comparative Geeks

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