The New World, Once the Bills are Paid

By Adam-Troy Castro on Patreon

The premise of a space-ark to a distant planet, for a privileged few to survive an earthly cataclysm, is of course at least as old as the novel WHEN WORLDS COLLIDE by Edwin Balmer and Philip Wylie, which became a classic sf film by George Pal, in 1951.

I think the novel and its sequel, AFTER WORLDS COLLIDE, were fun enough. The books were still in print when I was growing up, still on sale in the sf section of local bookstores, and thus accessible to me. This was back when SF was still small enough to have an immutable canon and so most stores had Asimov, Clarke, Heinlein, Philip K. Dick and whoever was big at the moment: in some cases, I think, people who should still be read and in some cases those who are deep dives only for enthusiasts. (SF as a field is much healthier, much more vibrant, as a form of literature, which is one reason why publishing one novella a year is no longer a fairly reliable way of getting on the award ballots. We look like the world, now, and that is a good thing.)

The novels were fun enough, and the movie still is.

I will get to my chief point after pointing out why they are currently moldy. Okay? The Fifty or so people who fit aboard the ship to the new world, minutes ahead of Earth’s destruction by a rogue planet that has entered our solar system, are, at least in the movie, all white. And in the novel’s sequel, our brave emigrees face additional danger when they realize that the Commies have also sent a rocket to the new world and that they must now have a war to protect themselves, something that involves an awful lot of Christian piety.

Racist, at least by omission. Chauvinistic, in all senses of the word.

Okay?

But there is an element worth noting in George Pal’s movie, which covered only the events of the first volume.

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