Tuesday, 16 April 2013

And Some Were Savages

"And Some Were Savages" by James Blish is a proto-series, a story that could have become a series. Several of Blish's fictitious technologies provide the background for more than one work:

spindizzies and anti-agathics;
the Haertel overdrive;
the Dirac communicator;
the science of pantropy.

And two appear in only one work each:

tetraploidy in Titan's Daughter;
the science of gnotobiosis in "And Some Were Savages."

Like "The Writing Of The Rat," "And Some Were Savages":

is a one-off story, not part of any series, despite a joking reference to "...a very young Marine private named Oberholzer..." (Anywhen, New York, 1970, p. 79) (Marine Sergeant Oberholzer, who cannot be the same character, is prominent in "This Earth Of Hours");

is one of several Blish futures in which the UN becomes a world government.

It is in some ways a companion story to "A Dusk Of Idols," also collected in Anywhen, although the latter has a "Heart Stars" background.


are "spaceship stories" in which an Earth ship visits an extrasolar planet;
highlight medical issues on the planet with the ship's medical officer playing a key role;
reflect on evolution, "...brutal for the spawn, but kind to the race. That's evolution for you every time..." (p. 102), "...death is now and always has been the drive wheel of evolution..." (p. 134).

Gnotobiosis is the science of germ-free life. There could have been a series about these characters dealing with the consequences of previous contamination on other planets but the fact that the characters themselves have lived in "...a totally germ-free environment..." (p. 80) from birth marks them off from their counterparts in any other work by Blish even though one of them is given a familiar name.

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