“Homo Sol” by Isaac AsimovJuly 2, 2010
The Book: “Homo Sol” by Isaac Asimov from Science Fiction Omnibus edited by Groff Conklin. Story originally published in 1940. Edition read was published by Berkeley Books in 1956.
The Setting: Earth, but mostly Arcturus University far far away.
The Story: Earth has developed interstellar travel, so the Galactic Federation asks them to join. Earth says no, also, get off my lawn planet.
The Science: In an interesting development, this is psychological science fiction. The scientists are psychologists, crucial to inter-hominid communication. Psychology has become more equation based, less couch based. The careful application of psychology results in Earth being driven to nearly world wide panic. The Federation has mastered the art of psychological warfare, although it really only works on irrational species like Homo Sol (that’s us!). But they use panic only to prove a point internally, then they turn to more benevolent means – using species that resemble classical deities to open trade with Earth.
It’s fascinating really – the story supposes that Earth will focus on weapons and defense (as we probably would) while the Federation is interested in integration. I think the story seems reasonable – aliens might be confused by us but application of psychology would help to bridge that gap.
The Reaction: I liked it. It’s different, it’s interesting, it’s pretty much a classic. And it’s not written from the perspective of the Earth, so that’s excellent. Thumbs up.
The Cover: It’s an anthology and clearly this cover has nothing to do with this story, but it’s gorgeous. I mean, look at all those spaceships! And they’re such space age spaceships of the future. Love it. But I’m a sucker for retro-future spaceships and rayguns.
Next Up: Llana of Gathol by Edgar Rice Burroughs