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Asimov, Isaac – “No Connection” (1948)

03/27/2012

Millions of years after the nuclear suicide of humankind, North America is inhabited by Gurrow Sapiens, a peaceful folk who live an idyllic life of communalism and leisure. Protagonist Raph, an inhabitant of the rural Red River Grouping, is an archaeologist who has devoted his life to the study of Primate Primeval, whom he believes (kind of heretically) to have been civilized. The story opens with Raph’s son mentioning to him that a group of people called “Eekahs” have landed on the Eastern shore, having fled their home on the other side of the world in search of political asylum – a concept the Gurrow find impossible to understand. The Eekah, moreover, arrived from their semi-mythical hemisphere (the “Other World”) in some sort of flying machine that is beyond anything the Gurrow have invented (but which they quickly duplicate), possess an industrialized civilization of warring nation-states (again, alien to the Gurrow), and, in the course of the story, develop nuclear weapons. Raph draws a connection between these and the prehistorical extinction of Primate Primeval, but the narrator insists (sarcastically?) that there is no connection.

Oh – the Gurrow are descended from bears and the Eekah from chimpanzees.

Bleiler and Dikty insist in their preface that it is “immediately obvious that [No Connection] belongs to the same tradition as Genius, but this is utter nonsense, unless by “tradition” they meant “science fiction.” Where Genius is a perfect example of mid-century technocratic elitism, No Connection is a pessimistic examination of technology run amok – twice, no less. While the “noble Americans v. godless hordes of the East” theme was gaining steam at this early stage of the Cold War, this story is notable for placing modernity on the side of the bad guys – although there is also a combination of Cold War parable with colonization-of-the-new-world story here, with the Gurrow playing part of the noble indigenous population whom the Eekah ignore in their greed for the “new and empty land of opportunity” in America.

Also, for all that this is a clash of cultures of story, we never actually see an Eekah on-screen, as it were.

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