Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Extraterrestrials As Comment

Jonathan Swift satirized Europeans by comparing them with imagined Lilliputians, Brobdingnagians, Laputans, Struldbrugs, yahoos and houynhmns, all of whom inhabited Terrestrial islands. Thus, long before Pierre Boulle's Planet of the Apes, the houyhnhmns were an Island of the Horses.

Science fiction writers can deploy extraterrestrials to the same effect. A classic example is Wellsian Selenites. When violence between human beings results in a death, a grotesque-looking alien imagined by Poul Anderson responds thus:

"A gruesome keening lifted from the Naqsan. 'Gwurru shka ektrush, is this war? We do not thus at home. Rahata, rahata.'"
-Poul Anderson, The Star Fox (London, 1968), p. 101.

If a Naqsan can ask this, then we must ask why we do thus, especially since, in this case, the killer is a "Militant for Peace."

Endre Vadasz, another wandering space minstrel, sings the Paternoster (Our Father, Lord's Prayer) over a grave. Respectful treatment of the dead is yet another theme in Anderson's works.

1 comment:

Sean M. Brooks said...

Hi, Paul!

Frankly, I have my doubts about the Naqsans being all that innocent. After all, we see them willing and capable of fighting a war in FIRE TIME.