Thursday, July 8, 2010

Alan E Nourse's "Marley's Chain" (short story, racism, free): What if racial prejudice in the US reversed color?

Illustration accompanying the original publication in If Worlds of Science Fiction of short story Marleys Chain by Alan E Nourse
Not the first story with this idea - people with black skin dominating & hating whites - see, e.g., Arthur Clarke's "Reunion". Clarke's is a mild story & uses racist allusion for amusement; this one is emotionally intense. I've never been able to identify with such stories, but that could be because I've never faced discrimination based on physical appearance.

Story summary.

Nuclear wars, fought among the whites, have turned them into a minority; majority of those living are now blacks (I guess author is referring only to US?) There is some sort of uprising, bringing out centuries of stored hatred - so it's now a black man's US where whites ("Sharkies") aren't welcome.

Tam Peters, a white man, has just returned after many years of work on other planets to find his US has no place for him anymore. He will eventually resolve his dilemma the way of Kurt Vonnegut's "The Big Trip Up Yonder" (download)!


  1. One of the characters tells us an "old Christmas story" which ties the title to the plot: "an evil man who went through life cheating people, hating and hurting people, and when he died, he found that every evil deed he had ever done had become a link in a heavy iron chain, tied and shackled to his waist. And he wore that chain he had built up, and he had to drag it, and drag it, from one eternity to the next--his name was Marley".

Fact sheet.

First published: If, September 1952.
Download full text from Project Gutenberg, Manybooks, Feedbooks.
Rating: B.
Related: Stories of Alan E Nourse.