Saturday, March 06, 2010

The Savagery of White People, continued

Last month's post on apocalyptic fiction got me interested in re-reading some of these chestnuts. I got to "Alas Babylon," Pat Frank's 1959 novel of a (pre-Disneyworld) central Floridian community surviving a US-Soviet nuclear conflict. Frank seems to think of himself as a bit of a liberal, including the family of the African-American help in the core story of neighboring households banding together to survive. Then there's this pre-attack exchange between neighbors:

Bill locked his hands behind his back. "I can't guarantee it, of course...[Mr. Offenhaus] says the only real danger we face is being overrun by people swarming out of Orlando and Tampa. He doesn't even think there's much chance of that. Fort Repose isn't on any main highway. But he does say we'll have to watch out for the dinges. Keep 'em under control."
"Please, Bill!" Lavinia said. "Say darkies!"
"Darkies, hell! The dinges are liable to panic and start looting. Oh, the local niggers, like Daisy, our cook and Missouri, the cleaning woman, may be all right. Mr. Offenhaus was talking about the migrant labor, orange pickers and so forth....Mr. Offenhaus strikes me as a pretty solid businessman."

So there you have it, a world where "darkies" is the polite word. I say blow it all to hell. Finishing this book I really wished a nuke had landed square on them and cut the novel short then and there.

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