[originally posted here at Castalia House]
Coming of the Gods by Chester Whitehorn was featured in the Summer 1945 issue of Planet Stories.
One of the many reasons why I’m doing Short Reviews is to share what stories from the pulps were like and what they were about, as many of these have never been collected or reprinted; I feel that it’s important because the on-going meme you hear about the pulps is how sexist, regressive, racist, anti-diversity and pro-colonialist they were and that could not be further from the truth! Coming of the Gods is another piece that shows how people who claim the pulps were just dumb action tripe and should be buried in favor of more ‘serious’ science fiction could not be more wrong.
Coming of the Gods is an interesting twist on the Planetary Romance in which the story is told not from the point of view of some heroic Earth-man arriving on a strange world to save the day but an alien primitive saving the hapless space pioneers from the mess that they inadvertently brought to his world. Kinda like Tarzan, but it should be noted that the hero here is an indigenous African Martian. Again, we have a classic pulp sci-fi story featuring an explicitly non-white protagonist exploring some interesting themes including human commonality and the institution of marriage.
On the jungle planet of Mars (yeah, that Mars), Ro has just returned from a long and dangerous journey to the far north. He looks forward to rejoining his tribe and marrying his love, but he arrives to find that disaster has struck. After rescuing his beloved Na from an Oan, one of the Martian Rat-men, Ro learns what befell his people. In Ro’s absence, a magic flying sphere landed carrying four white-skinned beings; these visitors were able to communicate telepathically and befriended the Martians, but apparently were not too cautious about keeping their ray guns secure, because the Oan managed to get ahold of them, and the result was a massacre.