Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Far Beyond The Stars

***** (5 stars out of 5)
In a vivid historical place and time, Ben is Benny Russell, a science fiction writer who dreams of a world as sweet and fair-minded as Deep Space Nine. It's a world Benny needs desperately, since New York of the 1950s is not even ready to imagine a "Negro with a typewriter". Let alone a brown man who's responsible for the fate of an entire fourth of the galaxy.

The soulless minions of orthodoxy, in the form of cops and editors and the white man's oppressive culture, won't let Russell publish his stories of future racial integration, not even in a dream. Also, the crackers shoot his friend dead for, as I see it, having a suspiciously black tone.

Like this episode's Albert the Asimov Analogue, all I really want is stories with robots. You get what you paid for with robots. Why must these writers drag me back to the misery and madness of the real world?

I watch sci-fi to ESCAPE from this REALITY crap, don't you?

"Far Beyond The Stars" is a powerful polemic against racism. It also has a heartbreaking pessimism I find even MORE uncomfortable: it seems to suggest that the desire for utopia destroys your brain. Or, put another way, only a crazy person would want to live in the future of Star Trek. On the one hand, I'd argue that things have gotten better overall since the fifties. It rarely occurs to me (a lower-class milk-white shut-in from a tentatively "democratic" socialist society, to be sure) that Captain Sisko being brown and in charge is any BIG DEAL. I grew up with this idea. It's as normal as starship captains with lady parts. On the other hand, things are not better for everyone everywhere and they're not better ENOUGH. We NEED the reminder. Which is why I must rate the story so highly, even though it always makes me feel sad, afraid, and powerless.

No comments:

Post a Comment