Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Eric Frank Russell's "... And Then There Were None": Astrix as a novel - only "magic potion" is replaced with "Gandhigiri"

Quote from the novella titled ... And Then There Were None by Eric Frank RussellThis lovely piece of humor details the adventures of colonists on a planet where the natives have taken Mahatma Gandhi very seriously.

Full text of the story is available online.

Story is set sometime in 27th century.

Four centuries ago, Blieder-drive was invented - a kind of engine that made faster-than-light travel possible. Within a few years, a lot of ships of colonists left earth. Many worlds were populated - sometimes with people sharing specific eccentricities.

Now there are 1600 of them. And Earth believes it ought to rule them all; something called Terran Empire exists. And earth is militarily & materially the most powerful world among the lot.

Story is set on an unnamed & underpopulated world. All is peaceful on the morning the story begins, just like in the well known village in Gaul. Then a Terran battleship with 2000 soldiers, administrators, & an unnamed Ambassador land - to make it a Terran colony.

Things begin going wrong immediately after landing. Locals refuse to notice colonists. Attempts to force natives meet Mahatma Gandhi's Satyagrah-style resistance. In fact, local folks of the little town where most of story is set call themselves "Gands" (short for Gandhians); & colonists "Antigands".

We are often presented with two pieces of local slang: "ob" stands for "obligation". This is the local currency based on an honor system; no printed or plastic money. And a word of insult - "myob" - "Mind Your Own Business" - kind of, don't poke into other people's affairs.

There is much adventure & fun - very like Romans vs Gauls in Asterix.

As ordinary soldiers come into contact with locals, rebellion of authority spreads like a virus through the ranks. Hundreds of soldiers desert. Fearing they will not be left with enough to go back home, colonists leave in a bit of a hurry!

Collected in.

  1. "Major Ingredients" (ed Rick Katze). 
Fact sheet.
First published: Astounding Science Fiction, June 1951
Rating: A
Related: All stories of Eric Frank Russell.
Listed among the stories from John Campbell's Astounding/Analog.

See also.
  1. Arthur Clarke's "Trouble With The Natives": This humorous piece describes the frustration of alien colonizers when they landed near an English village.
  2. "Lage Raho Munnabhai": Movie released in 2006. Original in Hindi; English dubbed or subtitled versions are available; may be in other languages too. Gandhism applied to issues of modern India - good humor. And one of the most influential movies ever made - added a new word "Gandhigiri" to Hindi vocabulary; spawned dozens of experiments across the country for fixing every conceivable human problem with gandhigiri.


Anonymous said...

Check out obswap.blogspot.com to see an attempt to implement obs on Earth.