In my limited experience of reading science fiction, the best sci-fi is that which makes a direct and incisive comment about the way we live our life now, not in the future. Given the day that’s in it, with the ongoing saga of the Anglo tapes which has outraged so many in Ireland, I thought a quote from C.S. Lewis’s thinky-thought space opera Out of the Silent Planet really says it all. I loved this book when I was just out of childhood and it’s still relevant to me as a full-grown woman. It probably helps to know that the reference to “sun-blood” is a desire to mine for gold on Mars.
But Devine had jumped to his feet, and interrupted him.
“No, no, Oyarsa,” he shouted. “You no listen him. He very foolish man, he have dreams. We little people, only want pretty sun-bloods. You give us plenty sun-bloods, we go back into sky, you never see us no more. All done, see ?”
“Silence,” said Oyarsa. There was an almost imperceptible change in the light, if it could be called light, out of which the voice came, and Devine crumpled up and fell back on the ground.
[Devine’s accomplice Weston philosophises some…]
Then the voice of Oyarsa continued [to Weston]:
“I see now how the lord of the silent world has bent you. There are laws that all hnau know, of pity and straight dealing and shame and the like, and one of these is the love of kindred. He has taught you to break all of them except this one, which is not one of the greatest laws; this one he has bent till it becomes folly and has set it up, thus bent, to be a little, blind Oyarsa in your brain. […] Do you know why he has done this? I will tell you. He has left you this one because a bent hnau can do more evil than a broken one. He has only bent you; but this Thin One who sits on the ground he has broken, for he has left him nothing but greed. He is now only a talking animal and in my world he could do no more evil than an animal. If he were mine I would unmake his body, for the hnau in it is already dead. But if you were mine I would try to cure you. Tell me, Thick One, why did you come here?”