“The Conquest of Gola,” Leslie F. Stone, 1931 — Earthmen (Detaxalans) arrive on cloud-covered Gola with the intent of plundering its treasures and “commercializing” it for the benefit of their Federation. Gola, however, is ruled by a formidable matriarchy composed of powerful telepaths who are well-versed in science and philosophy.
Negotiations with the Golans does not proceed as the Earthmen expect. The Golans find the bodies of the humans somewhat horrific, due to their long limbs and lack of spherical, golden perfection. Geble, the narrator’s mother and the Queen of Gola, is repulsed and tried beyond her patience by their arrogant and nonsensical talk of such topics as “business opportunities,” “profits,” “cloud dispersers,” and “tourism.” She orders her assistant to send them away, but when their craft alights they circle the globe rather than leave. They demand an audience with the King and threaten to destroy a city if their demands aren’t met. Geble dismisses the threat and her city is destroyed; only the palace survives due to the narrator’s quick thinking. Enraged, Geble orders their powerful beam station to capture and bring down the ship and its crew. Geble orders the Earthmen lined up; she preserves the lives of thirty worthy of scientific study or capable of producing amusement. The ship itself is destroyed by an annihilator beam.
The thirty slaves attempt to foment rebellion in the male under-class, at the same time arranging with their fellows back home for a full-scale invasion of Gola. But the ruling class is soon able to establish telepathic control of its males, and the rulers of Gola are able to take revenge on the invading ships, which have landed and begun to wreak chaos. They join minds and force the Earthmen back into their ships; once in the air, they destroy them with annihilator beams. More ships come and are instantly disintegrated. They may come again, the narrator relates, but the people of Gola are ready, and their men are still weaklings.
Comments: Very interesting use of point of view. Themes of gender, imperialism, exploitation of resources, capitalism, and consumerism. Read in Daughters of Earth, followed by a critical essay, “The Conquest of Gernsback: Leslie F. Stone and Subversion of Science Fiction Tropes” (2006) by Brian Attebery. See also Batya Weinbaum’s “Sex Role-Reversal in the Thirties: Leslie F. Stone’s ‘The Conquest of Gola.'”
Author: Leslie F. Stone (1905-1991) (Leslie Francis Silverberg). ISFDB entry. For more biographical information, see Eric Leif Davin’s Partners in Wonder: Women and the Birth of Science Fiction 1926-1965 (2006).