“A Conquest of Two Worlds,” Edmond Hamilton, 1932 — Three friends invent an energy source that allows humanity to travel to the planets in the solar system. After witnessing the brutal “subjugation” of the Martian peoples (Native Americans), who only want to live on the land that has been theirs for millennia, one of the three defects and eventually ends up in prison. Meanwhile, the drive for “resources” and a belief in “inevitable” expansion and civilization carries humanity to Jupiter, where it attempts to subjugate a second race of peaceful natives. The defector emerges as a rebel leader. He teaches the natives to use atomics, but they are only able to delay the invasion. At the conclusion, he takes what appears to be the only way out (to him): Rather than let the people decline on reservations, he (and the natives?) opt for suicide by atomic explosion. One of the original three friends resigns his commission as a result.
Comments: Read in The Best of Hamilton. A minor classic in sf, one that perhaps influenced anti-war, anti-imperialist critiques in sf to follow. Portrays the masculine ethic of a good death, the effects of total war, the quest for resources, the prioritization of “usefulness” over being, and the tech used to serve these purposes.
Author: Wikipedia: “Edmond Moore Hamilton (October 21, 1904 – February 1, 1977) was an American author of science fiction stories and novels during the mid-twentieth.” “World-wrecker” Hamilton was an extremely prolific writer, particularly of space opera, and appeared frequently in Weird Tales. He was close friends with many prominent genre writers, including Jack Williamson, and was married to Leigh Brackett, a science fiction writer and a screen writer of several notable screenplays.