X is for Xenophobe – Alphabet Challenge
According to Merriam-Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary (online version), a xenophobe is “one unduly fearful of what is foreign and especially of people of foreign origin.” Now, you’ll be asking me, what the heck does a xenophobe have to do with romance books?!
Well, for the purposes of this post, it mostly has to do with science fiction romance. I don’t know where it started, maybe with “little green men from Mars” or sometime even earlier than that, but along the line, folks started fearing what might come from the skies. People have always agonized over the unknown, always chafed at different cultures that they don’t understand, but in terms of space, xenophobia seems to be shared by nearly all of us. (Astronauts and astronomers might be the most obvious exceptions.)
It appears to be ingrained in our psyches, and yet science fiction writers frequently use off-worlders as creatures of interest. Sometimes they’re good guys, sometimes bad guys, but they’re all more technically advanced than we Earthers. Is that because we just can’t imagine coming into contact with people more primitive than ourselves? It reminds me of the Star Trek Prime Directive:
“No identification of self or mission. No interference with the social development of said planet. No references to space or the fact that there are other worlds or civilizations.” (ST:TOS 1968)
If we ever encountered a more primitive people, would we adhere to this stricture, or would be barrel in and have our way with them? You might not have read them, but David Brin wrote a few books about purposely pushing the evolution of creatures beyond what would have been normal in the course of time. These books started with The Uplift War, during which Earthers uplift certain Earth animals in order to get their help fighting a seemingly impossible conflict from off-worlders.
Two paradigms are explored in Brin’s series: xenophobia and interference with a less developed species. It’s interesting how science fiction has treated our fears about encountering unknown cultures. Hopefully, if we actually meet a space-faring species, it will be on good terms.
How do you feel about possibly encountering space aliens?
Note: The alphabet challenge here will be suspended for a couple of days, due to other announcements. If you’re participating in the challenge, come back on Sunday the 29th for more alphabet posts.
Remember: One person who answers each day’s question in a comment for that day’s post will win a $26 Blushing Books gift certificate. You have to comment on all 26 posts to be eligible to win, but I’ve asked easy questions at the end of each short post, so it shouldn’t be onerous. If you’ve missed the previous posts, do a search on “Alphabet Challenge” in the search box at the bottom right of the site. All the posts will be listed for you and you can go back and participate.
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