Review: Science Fiction Short Story: "Blind Spot" by Bascom Jones, Jr.
This is another in the series of “It Came from the Pulps!” where I review science fiction short stories that were originally published in the pulp magazines of mid-20th century. Many of these have become available in electronic form as free downloads, particularly from Project Gutenberg, or for a small price.
“Blind Spot” is one of those rare pieces of storytelling that says in words what cannot be said in words, as Ursula K. LeGuin once said. In 1955, one did not discuss such things as integration much less interracial marriage in polite society. Some states still had anti-miscegenation laws on the books. While they may not have been enforced because of their impracticality, social sanctions against interracial relationships were strong enough that few dared cross them.
Author Bascom Jones, Jr. opens his story with Johnny Stark, director of the department of Interplanetary Relations for Mars’s Settlement One, reading a note from a “troublemaker” which he quickly disposes of. He next interviews a couple, an earth woman, a colonist on Mars, and a Martian man, who want permission to move to Housing Perimeter D, a housing section reserved for intermarried couples who are about to have offspring.
But who could find this story objectionable? It wasn’t talking about the “Negro problem.” It was talking about Martians, which don’t exist after all. And after all, it was just a story.
The story is told through Johnny’s point of view. Step-by-step, the reader sees how the earthlings have shunted the Martians aside and kept the best the planet has to offer for themselves. Martians build cars; earthlings own them. Martians take omnibuses. This, Johnny tells himself, solves the traffic problem.
This particular point I found interesting. This story was published in Feb. 1955. In December of the same year, Rosa Parks was arrested for refusing to give up her seat to a white person on a bus and thus began the Montgomery Bus Boycott which ended the segregation of the busses.
The problems described here happily no longer plague us, but it’s good to remind ourselves that it wasn’t all that long ago that they did. There is a surprise ending that gives a whole devastating twist to the story.
I’ve been unable to find any bio information about the author—or indeed any other published work by the same author—and would guess the name is a pseudonym.
Title: “Blind Spot” first published in Galaxy Feb. 1955 Author: Bascom Jones, Jr. Source: www.isfdb.org/cgi-bin/ea.cgi?11911
© 2015 Denise Longrie
*An earlier version of this review appeared on another site. It has been removed from that site and is no longer visible there or anywhere else. The review has been altered and updated for its inclusion in PP.*
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