Thursday, March 6, 2014

Gramsci's On Mars, But Where's Trotsky?

Antonio Gramsci is alive and well on Mars. Mussolini deported his most famous political prisoner there, but Gramsci has escaped to foment revolution among the oppressed natives of the Red Planet. That's a lot better than dying in prison. It will certainly lead to a rosier future. It's a way better than the one I lived through in the '80s and '90s when graduate students in numerous fields - ones who had never read a lick of Marx - constantly quoted Gramsci.

So what am I going on about? Blood Red Mars, the new supplement for Cubicle 7's retrofuturist pulp era WW II game, Rocket Age:

Well, of course, this is kind of cool. But it really begs the most important question: Where is Leon Trotsky? Most of the action in Rocket Age seems to be mid-to-late 30's (I don't have my copy with me, but that's what I recall). Trotsky isn't assassinated until 1940, so if it's earlier than that, he could be anywhere, and if it's 1940 or later, perhaps he is another figure who cheated death in this alternate timeline.

We certainly hope so. Mars could use Trotsky. He was certainly the best general among the original Bolsheviks. Many in the Red Army still loved him long after he went into exile. It's said that some of the troops even sang "Trotsky's Red Army" when they marched into battle in the Second World War.

On Mars, he'd be a troublemaker. He's probably get there by sneaking across the border from Mexico and enter the U.S. to find his rocket to the Red Planet. Trotsky liked Americans; his personal bodyguard was an American farmboy. He'd travel to Mars with the Lincoln Brigade.

Once he got there, all bets are off. My guess is that the fledgling Soviet states on Mars would be neutral towards Trotsky - and possibly even friendly depending on who he was making trouble for on the Red Planet. He might even end up with a Red State of his own. This could be the springboard for a really fun Rocket Age campaign.


  1. Cool stuff. Unsurprisingly, perhaps, I am a fan of combining the historical with the fantastic.

    1. Yes I liked the Mars piece from Sorcerer's Skull which you shared yesterday! For one thing, this Mars still needs the tentacular Martians lurking in the deep. But then don't they all?

  2. In point of fact, my students just read Gramsci and Hegemony Theory for their midterm exam. So have no fear: the cycle of pain continues!

    Thanks for bringing this game up. I've not heard of it, but love the genre very much.

    1. Mazel tov! Some things never change I guess! Hopefully you swing a little Raymond Williams and Franco Moretti their way too.