In commemoration of the Chengdu Worldcon’s Guests of Honour, a brief discussion of genocide in science fiction.
To quote Article II of the United Nations’ Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide
In the present Convention, genocide means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such:
- Killing members of the group;
- Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;
- Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;
- Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;
- Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.
Humanity having learned some painful lessons from the 20th century, genocide is now universally deemed unfashionable, to be opposed in all circumstances … except when opposition is personally inconvenient or more important geopolitical goals are at stake. Some will stop at nothing to end genocide. Others are willing to start at nothing.
How does SF and its related fields feel about the matter, you ask? As with so many issues, unanimity is lacking. One can categorize SF’s beliefs into four broad sets by asking two questions: Is genocide justifiable? Is genocide avoidable? There are four possible answers: