The Camp of the Saints

Essay: The Camp of the Saints, Jean Raspail, trans. Norman Shapiro, 1973, 2018.

Would you kill to preserve civilization? Specifically, would you kill defenseless children, women, and men to preserve civilization?

That is the question posed by Raspail’s novel, surely the most significant science fiction novel written in 1973 and certainly still the most talked about.

The novel’s theme is encapsulated by a remark of the French president in a radio address as Easter Sunday becomes Easter Monday:

cowardice towards the weak is cowardice at its most subtle, and, indeed, its most deadly.

We’ll return to that radio address later.

Reading this book, to say nothing of liking it and agreeing with its message, is enough to get you denounced and used as a weapon against you if you are a politician. In the month since I read this, that indeed happened to one American politician. You can do the experiment yourself. Do a Google search using “The Camp of the Saints” and “Raspail” and look at the first 12 pages. Three quarters of the entries will use words like “hateful”, “lurid”, “despicable”, and, of course, “racist” to describe the book.

Originally, I was going to do a three-part series on this book: the story, reactions to it, and the validity of its projections. Frankly, I didn’t think most people would want to read that nor would I change any minds in the related moral and political arguments.

So, I’ll mostly describe the book and conclude with some brief thoughts on its relevancy and place in science fiction.

You’ll get a better sense of the book here that any other place online I think.

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Stealing Other People’s Homework: “Rough Diamond”

Rough Diamond

I’m back from an unexpected absence to a land of no internet connection where I got little reading or writing done.

Posts will pick up shortly.

For now, I’ll post an article on Jared Diamond’s Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies. As I’ve mentioned before, I was a fan of Diamond’s book when it came out 20 years ago.

Now, though, I’m less convinced of its logic or empirical basis.

Steve Sailer’s “Rough Diamond” looks at some of its faults.

How Diverse Do You Really Want Your Characters?

I’ve been reading Peter F. Hamilton’s latest two books (yes, I will be reviewing them after I finish with Ambrose Bierce).

One of his long term themes, since he started setting stories off Earth, is the idea of an ethnostate.

The orthodoxy throughout most of the western world is that “diversity is our strength”, so an ethnostate could even be deemed “fascist” in certain quarters. The funny thing is, though, given the opportunity, racial and ethnic groups tend to self-segregate.

The 20th century could be seen, with the aftermath of World War One, the Holocaust, the breakup of the Soviet and Austro-Hungarian and Ottoman Empires, the India-Pakistan partition, even the conflict between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, as a long, bloody statement that people don’t want to share a polity with those not like them.

America continues to have racial strife, and many of our cities show voluntary segregation patterns on a variety of jurisdictional lines from school district to city.

But science fiction, particularly of the media sort, strikes me as mostly denying this real world phenomena. (The Village, as Steve Sailer noted, is a sort of science fictional film strikingly exceptional in this regard.)

The ethnostate seems to have largely vanished from modern science fiction, at least what I’ve seen. Poul Anderson’s The Boat of a Million Years had such societies, as I recall, especially those who rejected modern technology. When the idea of O’Neill L-5 colonies was big, it was assumed they might be populated along ethnic and racial lines. But only Peter F. Hamilton, that I know of, does anything with the idea.

Over at, geneticist Razib Khan’s “Fear of a Black Fantasy” talks about what we seem to really want in regards to the racial makeup of characters in fantasy and science fiction novels.

I will probably deal with Hamilton’s use of the idea when I review him.