“A Conquest of Two Worlds,” Edmond Hamilton, 1932

“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.

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About jennre

Lifelong sf fan, first-time blogger
This entry was posted in 1926-1939, Native Americans, post/colonialism, primitive/civilized, race/civil rights, suicide, the Other, war/soldiers. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to “A Conquest of Two Worlds,” Edmond Hamilton, 1932

  1. This is a fascinating story with a very dense plot — it’s under 10 thousand words long but reads like a novel or even trilogy because of the tightness of its writing. It’s notable as one of the first clear examples of the “military science fiction” genre, and also for its incredibly dark theme — it postulates, essentially, that human avarice and wrath will spoil the science-fictional dreams of atomic energy and interplanetary space flight. (You are also absolutely correct that Hamilton was making an analogy with the dispossession of the American Indians). It also features some ground-breaking military-technological speculation, and Hamilton shows a strong and clear grasp of strategy which was rare in 1930’s science fiction.

    I did a detailed review of “A Conquest of Two Worlds” here on my Fantastic Worlds blogzine.

    http://fantasticworlds-jordan179.blogspot.com/2012/08/retro-review-conquest-of-two-worlds.html

    including, you may note, a chronology of the events of the story, from the 1937 invention of the atomic rocket to the 1950 final conquest of Jupiter.

    I would probably find your comments interesting.

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