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Moore, Ward – “Dominions Beyond” (1954)

09/10/2013

In which the supposed first expedition to Mars, in 2002, turns out actually to be the second, following the accidental firing of a magnetic rocket that transported Humphrey Beachy-Cumberland there in 1887. Finding that the (human) Martians had reverted to barbarism a thousand generations earlier, Beachy-Cumberland undertakes a successful British colonization of the planet. The international expedition of 2002, who, en route, just so happened to be making fun of the declining fortunes of the English (who declined to participate), therefore finds Martians who greet them with ““From Earth, what? Good show,” fly Union Jacks, and decline to join the UN as they are not a sovereign nation but rather “Her Majesty’s Dominion of Mars.”

Like Moore’s “Lot” last year, I think this is supposed to be somewhat satirical in its approach, but like “Lot” it fails in that regard, with the barbarian Martians (who call Beachy-Cumberland “Mister”) fulfilling every colonialist stereotype you could think of. Even if the stuffy, post-imperial British were supposed to be the butt of the joke, it just shows that their indigenous subjects weren’t even worth taking seriously enough to pick on.

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