Friday, December 26, 2008

1930s Sci-tri: “Martian Martyrs” by Earl Binder and Otto Binder

Originally published in the March 1939 issue of Science Fiction magazine under the pseudonym John Coleridge, “Martian Martyrs,” a short story by brothers Earl and Otto Binder, was reprinted in the early 1940s by Columbia Publications as a 23-page pamphlet.

Martian Martyrs” is set in the year 3004 A.D., when Earth is ruled by the benevolent Tribunal of Science, or “Sci-tri,” a group of intellectually superior scientists. Concerned about the depletion of Earth’s ozone layer, the Sci-tri sends a group of space cadets, including Dik 4M-277 and Tom 3M-189, on a mission to Mars, the latest in a series tasked with discovering a habitable planet. After crash landing on the Red Planet, Dik 4M-277 and Tom 3M-189 find the wreckage of an earlier mission and learn the real agenda of the not-so-benevolent Sci-tri.

Considering this story was written in 1939 and that the Binder family was originally from Austria, it’s possible that the writing of “Martian Martyrs” was influenced by the rise of Nazi Germany. Quite a few aspects of the story are reminiscent of the brutal Nazi regime, including “scrutiny of the papers,” the use of science to build
“supermen,” and a “diabolical and heinous” plan for a “scientific
‘Utopia,’ in which the masses of humanity would have no part.”

No comments: