Wednesday, February 11, 2009


Anybody else notice the sci-fi story in the New English Review this month? A spaceship has mechanical problems and needs to land. Unfortunately, the only place available is an embargoed planet, embargoed because, well:
“About a thousand years after our Company was founded, just at the time that we had started to build planets and adjust the stars around which they revolve, the Standing Committee of the Free Governments of Earth, SCOTFGOE, had a major problem. Earth, and some of the few of the settled planets at that time, had a major problem with one particular group of humans who insisted on believing in an ancient religion which preached hatred and violence, and the need, as they viewed things, for a supremacist, religious tyranny, based upon their beliefs, to rule over all mankind. They were called Mewslimes or Mihslams or some such, according to the records, and they indulged in daily acts of the most atrocious violence in order to advance their cause. The problem with the Mihslams, or Mewslimes, had become so severe at the time of which I am speaking that SCOTGOE simply had to act in order to save our civilisations from their murderous, and I mean that quite literally, depredations.”

“SCOTFGOE resolved at a specially convened meeting that the Mihslams had to go. The Company, our Company, was commissioned to build a planet, and a Sol type star for it to revolve around, to which they could all be banished. We were instructed to spare no effort or expense and that the finished planet should have every luxury and necessity upon its surface which was known to mankind at the time. That we did. We fulfilled the commission not only to the letter but in the spirit of the contract also. We built the most luxurious planetary environment ever seen. It was replete with technology – the most advanced hospitals, the finest communications, the most advanced transport systems, the most wonderful houses... I’m sure you get the picture. It was, in short, a paradise. Oh, don’t get me wrong. We charged SCOTFGOE an arm and a leg for that build, but they paid up quite willingly. Then we transported every Mewslime they rounded up in a series of military operations to it, and charged SCOTFGOE for doing that, too. Those operations went on for over a hundred years. It was a most profitable contract for our Company and it solved the problem for everybody.”

“However, nobody was ever able to identify why those people believed as they did. Nobody was ever able to identify why their beliefs so often led to violence, irrationality and murder. It was suspected at the time that it was some sort of viral contagion and so it was decided that an absolute embargo should be placed upon the system we now find ourselves in. Nobody is going to risk venturing into this system to rescue us because no one, least of all our Company, would ever take the risk of letting such a disease, if a disease it is, spread through the populations of all our worlds again.”
Look, far be it from me to go all PC, but isn't this a little much? Predictably, and as you can tell from what I've quoted, the story is also boring and clumsily written. Pure axe-grinding. Nice illustrations, though.

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