Calling a Spade a Mardonalian (Part 2)

Sometimes, racism in SF is subtext rather than context. In E.E. Smith’s The Skylark of Space, the heroes are Earth’s best and brightest despite, when told by a malevolent entity there are many ways it could kill them, responding, “Name one!” Upon arrival on the planet Osnome they rescue an airship being attacked by flying monsters. The passengers of the ship are humanoids whose skin color is “a dark, livid… green.” In appreciation for their efforts the Terrans are given “slaves,” seven men and seven women “of a much lighter color” (than the people they rescued). One of the slaves connects the Terrans to a machine that teaches them Onmone’s customs and languages. It seems Mardonale (the land of the dark Osnomeans) and Kondal (the land of the light Osnomeans) have been at war for six thousand years and the “slaves,” members of the Kondal royal family, are POWs. The Kondalians tell the Terrans that the Mardonalians were going to kill them and plunder their ship. The Terrans escape with the POWs and flee to Kondal, killing several Mardonalians in the process. When the Mardonalians launch an attack on Kondal the Terrans use their ship to annihilate the Mardonalian fleet, even after it breaks off the attack and retreats.

Now, not only do the (white) Terrans automatically side with the (light skinned) Kondalians against the (dark skinned) Mardonalians, they do so without ever asking who started the war or why. And despite the Mardonalians’ apparent “treacherousness,” they seem to have treated their captives well. There is never any mention of Mardonalian POWs in Kondal.

In his introduction to 2001 commemorative edition of Skylark, Vernor Vinge says he is disturbed by the presentation of the Kondalonian policy of “eugenics via execution” in “mildly approving terms,” but since few SF writers had local examples of “real, monstrous villainy” pre World War II, he believes “such genocidal fantasies, paradoxically enough, sprang from innocence.” He is confident that “if modern science fiction writers were brought up in the context of the first half of the twentieth century, they would have the same blind spots.”

Perhaps. But the real problem is not the innocence or ignorance of SF writers in the last century. The real problem is the casual acceptance of stereotypes in exchange for a “ripping good yarn” by SF writers and fans in this century.

Views: 11

Comment

You need to be a member of BlackScienceFictionSociety to add comments!

Join BlackScienceFictionSociety

Comment by Charles R. Saunders on April 3, 2008 at 3:21pm
Sometimes, subtle racism can be more damaging than the blatant kind, because it blindsides us. In the boxing world, fighters will tell you that the punch you don’t see is the one that knocks you out. It’s also hard to retaliate against subtlety, because it can denied, or passed off as a misunderstanding or misinterpretation.

Even so, we have to keep pointing it out when it happens, as you do here. When I first started reading science-fiction stories about humans invading alien planets (as opposed to aliens invading ours), I found so many parallels with the way Europeans treated Africans during the slave trade and colonialism that I could almost predict what was going to happen to the aliens. Green skins, blue skins, black skins … it was all the same.

You make some good points here. I look forward to seeing more of them.

Badge

Loading…

IMPORTANT ALERTS

ALERT! ALERT! ALERT! 

IF YOU ARE HAVING TROUBLE CHANGING YOUR PROFILE  PICTURE, SWITCH TO EITHER CHROME BROWSWER OR FIREFOX. THERE IS A KNOWN ISSUE WITH INTERNET EXPLORER THAT CAUSES TROUBLE CHANGING PICTURES.


PLEASE DO NOT SIGN IN WITH FACEBOOK IF YOU ALREADY HAVE AN ACCOUNT. YOU WILL CREATE A DUPLICATE THAT WILL NOT HAVE YOUR INFO CONNECTED. THANKS

NO SPAMMING

Please do not greet everyone on the site with large images and/or announcements of your book or business. Yes, you want to tell the world, but learn the fine art of subtlety. We have lost numerous members because of the amount of 'friend' mail they instantly receive. This Hurts Everyone.

Also, DO NOT post the same information multiple times throughout the site. It will be deleted without notice.

 

Spam is unsolicited advertising, whether it is posted as comments on other members' pages or is emailed for marketing purposes.

 

Please be considerate. Post your advertisement in the proper Articles/Forum or Group. There are inexpensive marketing channels that reach every member for just $25 on the Advertising tab. You can post your information on your profile and even update your blog as often as you like.

 

We are not into censorship, so please don't make us ask you to leave. Be kind and unselfish - don't spam.

 

Your Account Will Be Deleted Without Warning For Spam.

 

Blog Posts

Tabby's Star...

Posted by Reginald L. Goodwin on May 25, 2017 at 6:32am 0 Comments

Another explanation for the dimming is that KIC 8462852 is surrounded by a swarm of dusty comets.
Topics: Astrophysics, Dyson Sphere, Exoplanets, Kardashev Scale, Kepler Telescope, SETI

Astronomers and alien life enthusiasts alike are buzzing over the sudden dimming of an otherwise unremarkable star…
Continue

Sleuthing Antimatter...

Posted by Reginald L. Goodwin on May 24, 2017 at 7:31am 0 Comments

Two white dwarfs head toward a collision in this artist’s illustration. New research suggests that the Milky Way's preponderance of positrons could come from a specialized type of supernova from colliding low-mass white dwarfs — an explosion that is difficult to detect, but rich in an isotope that generates this kind of antimatter.

Credit: NASA/Tod Strohmayer (GSFC)/Dana Berry (Chandra X-Ray Observatory)
Topics:… Continue

Aluna's Encounter: The Fissure

Posted by Lauren on May 23, 2017 at 1:13pm 0 Comments

I planted my feet firmly on the ground. I never felt more connected to the planet where I stood than where I was right then in that moment. I took in a large, deep breath. It felt like I was breathing in the essence of crisp fresh snow.

And then I released.

This part of the plateau no one was allowed near. Off to the distance, I could see our city, Sheba, the buildings were made of gold and the streets were littered with diamonds and gems.

I zipped my jacket up and hid behind a large rock and waited.

The reason why people weren't allowed out this far from Sheba was because of the instability of the terrain. The scientists said that our world sometimes would converge with another world; a more dangerous world.

But this terrain was also where the agents came in and out of around this time of the evening. I wanted to see who they were bringing back this time.

A crackling of lightning and static happened…

Continue

Myth of Perfection...

Posted by Reginald L. Goodwin on May 23, 2017 at 10:00am 0 Comments

Researchers are trying to extract DNA from skeletons buried in the ancient Philistine cemetery of Ashkelon, in what is now Israel.

Topics: Biology, Diversity, Existentialism, Politics

“We are just an advanced breed of monkeys on a minor planet of a very average star. But we can understand the…
Continue

The Digital Brothers Multimedia

The Digital Brothers
Our goal is to provide cost effective technological solutions for home, small and big business. After over 20 years of service working in this field, we decided to utilize our talents to develop and cultivate our own vision to benefit the community.
2D & 3D Animation
Graphic & Web Design
Photo & Video
Multimedia Development
Online & Print Marketing

Contact Us Today To Assist In Your Business Success
Website: www.TheDigitalBrothers.com
Email: info@thedigitalbrothers.com

SKYCITY TALKRADIO

FREE SEMINAREnigma #1 - Missing Pieces

GET IT NOW!
Enigma #1 - Missing Pieces
In a post apocalyptic world, Two investigators (James and Brooks) are assign to a murder investigation that leads to more questions than what they bargain for.
https://www.comixology.com/comic-reader/42138/205794

THE UNDERGROUND BY ROXANNE BLAND

Life as alpha of a werewolf pack is anything but predictable. But even Parker Berenson is surprised by the latest twist: he’s fallen in love with a space alien. Problem is, he suspects Melera, his sexy new flame, might be the serial killer terrorizing Seattle. Or maybe she isn’t. After all, just because she’s an interstellar assassin doesn’t mean she’s guilty.

http://blackrosepress.com/

© 2017   Created by Jarvis Sheffield - Admin.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service