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The ... Gomphothere Book of Genocide
james_nicoll
Over on FB, Gary Farber said:

It occurs to me that a list of genocide-was-the-only-solution-let's-not-worry stories in sf could be interesting. Certainly finding another way wasn't a concern of E. E. Smith, who wiped out evil races with a sun ray here and a smashing planet there.

THE MOTE IN GOD'S EYE at least says it's worth trying another way before jumping straight to the genocide, as per SOP. That's, like, the surprise twist.

Then there are cases where one has the sense that the primary reasons the humans didn't engage in righteous genocide as lack of capability, such as, perhaps, the aliens in Heinlein's Methuselah's Children.

Nominations?


Heinlein rethought Methuselah's Children and had Lazarus Long claim to have returned to punish the aliens for being superior to humans.

Edmond Hamilton's Interstellar Patrol stories generally involved a group of aliens, faced with extinction, trying to survive through some obnoxious method like stealing our sun or rubbing their comet against the Milky Way like a balloon to rebuild its charge. The Patrol generally exterminated the aliens, often turning the aliens' own superscience on them.

Michael Z. Williamson's books The Weapon and Rogue involve the planet Freehold causing the deaths of six billion degenerate socialists and then various characters attempting to avoid being held to account for killing six billion degenerate socialists.

Patrick Vanner's Ragnarok has humanity attacked by evil space lizards, the only cure for which is total genocide.

Michael McCollum's Antares Series has humanity attacked by obligatorily hostile space centaurs, the only cure for which is total genocide.

Also posted at Dreamwidth, where there are comment count unavailable comment(s); comment here or there.

Varley's "The Golden Globe" ends with the hero calling for genocide of the Charonians.

I always had the feeling The Golden Globe was a Heinlein homage/pastiche/deconstruction. Am I alone in this?

The aliens in Ben Bova's "Stars, Won't You Hide Me?" and in Hoyle's duology Rockets in Ursa Major and Into Deepest Space, having got to know humans, decide the best way to mitigate our obnoxious behavior (processing aliens for immortality juice in the Bova, I think, and a habit of enslaving everyone weaker than us in the Hoyle) is to wipe us all out. In neither case is the effort 100% effective.

Edited at 2013-07-14 02:28 pm (UTC)

The aliens in the Bova actually gave humans a second chance, as I recall. "Stars, Won't You Hide Me" is later in the same sequence as As on a Darkling Plain, where we learn humans had an earlier civilization that got smashed.

Edited at 2013-07-14 02:40 pm (UTC)

Dan Simmons' infamous Time Traveler story.

Stephen Baxter's Titan has China buy itself time by killing everyone and most life on Earth because people in Baxter's stories are fucked-up idiots.

Barry Longyear's Sea of Glass solves Earth's problems by burninating most everyone on Earth.

Ben Bova's The Return oddly does not involve righteous mass murder of mewling breeders but it does involve a reproductive tweak that dooms every extra-solar colony to extinction and in some cases that will fit the technical definition of genocide.




The Cassini Division by MacLeod.

Then there's the TNG episode where Picard encounters a godlike being that destroyed an entire species in revenge for his wife's death. Picard lets him go, which is probably the best solution when faced with godlike beings with genocidal inclinations.

See also Ken MacLeod's The Star Fraction (although I don't think the humans notice the death of all the AIs).

Heinlein rethought Methuselah's Children and had Lazarus Long claim to have returned to punish the aliens for being superior to humans.

Apparently LL claimed multiple things about them. (LL also went back to the second aliens and got thoroughly creeped out by them.)

The Three Galaxies folk go around and routinely passive-aggressively genocide. And have time travel, so I'm sure they ensure they do it early enough that it never causes them problems. (Have Spacesuit, WIll Travel, in case it wasn't clear.)

Brennan-Monster killed all the Martians. But genocide and Tree-of-Life addiction go hand-in-hand.


Edited at 2013-07-14 02:38 pm (UTC)

To be fair, Mike McCollum resolved the trouble in the third book of the Antares saga with a partial genocide - the total genocide of the aliens' fighting castes. You know, the males between sixteen and sixty. "Nits make lice" never is uttered in the book. Weak tea, I know.

Greg Bear resolves the Jart trouble in _Eon_ withe relativistic smoosh death.

Speaking of Greg Bear, we have genocide in Anvil of Stars (getting back to the aliens who did nasty things to us in The Forge of God.)

Charles Pellegrino's Flying to Valhalla and The Killing Star are both novel-length arguments for genocide being the only rational response to the discovery of extraterrestrial intelligence. (They're both dreadful. Seriously, don't bother reading them.)

David Weber's equally dreadful Out of the Dark ends with a crew of vampires lead by Dracula (because it's that kind of book) taking over the aliens' warships and going off to find their home planet for some genociding. To be fair, they did try to do it to us.

Back when I cared about such things, I called Charles Pellegrino about being a GoH at Cornell's defunct SF/gaming convention Pentacon. He wanted a $2K honorarium.

IIRC, Heinlein's Starship Troopers strongly implied, if it didn't state outright, that them-or-us annihilation was inevitable with regard to intelligent aliens.

The threat of annihilation brought the Skinnies to heel, so perhaps "slavery" was an acceptable alternative.

Michael Z. Williamson's wriggling to say his character's destruction-of-several-tall-buildings-full-of-people was morally different from destruction-of-the-world-trade-center-twin-towers-full-of-people was interesting.

Books written pre-9-11 and published shortly after are reminiscent of those written just before the end of the CCCP.

... except with more cognitive dissonance.

Shiga's Meanwhile uses mass genocide to create ice cream.

Weber also has the "Shiva Trilogy", in which humanity is attacked by spider-like aliens which are so evil and alien and stuff that Extermination is the Only Option.

Early Jack Williamson had a lot of this: the first two Legion of Space stories ended in the extermination of eeevil alien races.

Alan Dean Foster's Humanx Commonwealth had as one of its principal founding events humans and Thranx fighting a war of extermination against an eeevil humanoid race.


I made the mistake of reading one of those Weber books and even by Baen MilSF standards, good lord.

I'm not sure which I liked more - the fact that the Bugs' preferred diet was specified to be live children, or the fact that various other species would discard longstanding traditions upon contact with humanity because they all recognized how much more civilized we are.

Jack Chalker, of course, had the whole universe get killed off (for its own good, and rebooted) in the Well of Souls novels.

In 2010: Odyssey Two Clarke lets the monolith aliens destroy all Jupiter's life in favor of Europa's, although as it's indicated that Jovian life hasn't got intelligence and hasn't got much potential for that, I'm not sure that qualifies as genocide or simply mass extinction.

Over on Star Trek: Enterprise there was one planet where Phlox and Archer decide to withhold some treatments to a Species of the Weekians because they figure the Sub-Species of the Weekians are going to out-evolve them and who are they to fight destiny like that so, sorry, Main Species but you'll just have to die off. This would be the most morally outrageous episode they'd done since the time Archer set off another planet of Weekians into a new World War because he lost a communicator.

I suspect Chalker did this as a retcon, when he found out the Commies couldn't be trusted to conquer the universe.

The obvious genocide-driven plot of recent decades is of course "Ender's Game". 'Nuff said.

"The Forever War" -- surprise twist-ending is the big reveal that a genocidal interstellar war isn't even necessary! This revelation comes after nearly a thousand years of exterminatory practice ... but I think we can give Joe a pass for the general "genocidal interstellar war is baaaad, man" vibe.

(NB: If I ever write a genocide-was-the-only-solution-let's-not-worry story, please shoot me. Stories featuring genocide: yes/maybe. Stories in which it's the unambiguous right thing to do against any organism more complex than staphylococcus aureus? If I ever go there, it's a sign that the brain eater's got me and I need to be put out of my misery.)



Edited at 2013-07-14 06:03 pm (UTC)

I support genocide for mosquitoes, which are quite a bit more complex that staph.

(no subject) (Anonymous) Expand
Is there anything on the webcomic front using that plot? The only ones I can think of that come close are Terinu and Freefall, but in both cases it's definitely presented as a Bad Thing.

Is there anything on the webcomic front using that plot?

The only one I can think of having positive genocide is Galaga, which is based on the arcade game.

Doc Smith certainly racked up a body count. However, I don't recall that the sunbeam was ever used to eliminate a species; the one actual use in the books was to defend Tellus from a "Boskonian" attack.

(And of course there were always friendly alien species, and indifferent ones that we could coexist with, in Doc Smith books; he was just a little too willing, by modern standards, to declare a whole species surplus to requirements.)

No Eddorians left at the end of the Galactic Patrol books, and the Skylark series ended with a galaxy-wide extermination of a green chlorine-breathing intelligent race in one afternoon, between lunch and teatime -- it took that long because they were simultaneously saving another intelligent non-green race who looked a bit like white middle-class American Us.


some of the hits that show up for genocide +"science fiction":

The Genocides [1965] by Thomas M. Disch. Nebula award nominee (1965) -- humans lose.

Legion of the Damned [1993] by William C. Dietz -- human cyborgs defend an a decadent human empire against inscrutable aliens. appears to be part of a series.

the Commonwealth Saga books by Peter F. Hamilton seem to fit the criteria.

The Genocidal Healer [1991] by James White likewise.

XIN: The Veiled Genocides [2012] by Robert G. Moons -- looks really dubious, but fits.

Halo the Covenant attempts the genocide of humans

the Warhammer 40,000 franchise contains various genocidal races.

and of course War of The Worlds by Wells is arguably a genocide story.

this seems to be a field of at least some academic interestas well.

interesting discussions of genocide vs. the Borg in TNG, and in DS9

In Genocidal Healer, the aliens were approaching extinction due to what appeared to be a pandemic. The healer wanted to apply a remedy, and decided not to wait for the thorough analysis of the problem before doing so. His remedy turned out to have disastrous consequences. I don't think this really fits the criteria.


heh. one more maybe, the story "With Friends Like These" by Alan Dean Foster. ok, so no actual genocide occurs, but it is noted that humans let loose in the universe after a looong time-out in the corner for misbehaviour might become a problem once they ran out of approved aliens to exterminate. the Yop iirc.

"Nuke 'em from orbit. It's the only way to be sure." Okay, not a book and not - technically - genocide (though the Space Marines didn't know that.) But apparently putting the planet on the quarantined list and just going home wasn't even considered, let alone discussed.

Considering that "The Company" already demonstrated how badly they want the aliens alive, and that they are willing to lie about what they intend to do with same aliens, what Hicks said is quite reasonable. "It's the only way to be sure" other humans would not break quarantine.

It occurs to me that although he doesn't have a "genocide is good" story, Niven created at least three alien races with which peaceful co-existence is essentially impossible - the Slavers, the Pak Protectors, and the Kzin. (By the time of "Ringworld", peaceful co-existence _has_ become possible, but only because so high a percentage of the Kzin had been exterminated in early wars that the genetic mean of the race had been shifted towards the more cowardly/cautious/non-aggressive tail of the distribution.)


eh, only the Pak are gonna try to extirpate your species on principle. the slavers and the kzinti had no problems exploiting subject species.

Last and First Men had a future humanity wipe out the Venusians so that we could take their planet.


No Changers left at the end of Consider Phlebas. It's mentioned in passing in the endnotes.

But that's not so much "Genocide was good and necessary" as "this is a sad thing that happened"

One of Spider Robinson's stories about someone waking up from cold sleep has as a bit of background detail that the Coming Race War ended with the whites essentially exterminating the blacks, save for a small remnant that becomes somewhat smaller during the course of the story.

Perhaps this is common because it is in one of the seminal works of western literature, the bible.

God wipes out everyone on the planet but a one family, and that's in the first five pages. On a smaller scale he does the same for Sodom and Gomorrah, and while wiping out all the first-born of Egypt may not qualify as genocide, it's certainly a case of wiping out kids for the alleged sins of the parents.

I'm not sure how many genocides the big guy orders his chosen people to perform, but IIRC on one occasion he is angry with them for being too lenient.

As children we were taught that genocide is a valid option. No wonder it's common in fiction.

William Hyde

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