“The Gentlest Unpeople,” Frederik Pohl, 1958

“The Gentlest Unpeople,” Frederik Pohl, 1958 — (alternate title: “The Gentlest Venusian”) Popagator and The Slide are playing whirlarang, a popular game and one that is integral to their culture.  Since their society has done away with war, they’ve relegated anti-social impulses to gaming arenas.  An Earther (an “Ugly American”?) tourist observes this deceptively peaceful, ultra-polite, over-helpful society and his first instinct is to exploit them.  He literally takes things out of their hands until he makes the mistake of interrupting another alien’s game of whirlarang by trying to take a piece of equipment.  The alien won’t give up the whirlarang, so the Earther kills it.

Meanwhile, Popagator and The Slide have been observing the Earther.  The two aliens take pity on him and arrange to visit him in prison.  They ceaselessly reassure him that everything will be fine, even after he is convicted.  They even stage an escape, reasoning that it is the “kindest” death march to the killing chamber possible.

Comments: Read in The Fourth Galaxy Reader.

Author: Wikipedia: “Frederik George Pohl, Jr. (born November 26, 1919) is an American science fiction writer, editor and fan, with a career spanning over seventy years — from his first published work, “Elegy to a Dead Planet: Luna” (1937), to his most recent novel, All the Lives He Led (2011).”

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About jennre

Lifelong sf fan, first-time blogger
This entry was posted in 1946-1959, american culture, communication, culture clash, emotions/intimacy/empathy, gaming, greed, law, tourists, Uncategorized, violence, war/soldiers. Bookmark the permalink.

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