Friday, August 06, 2021

Four From Planet Five and that Technologically Advanced Civilization


Here’s something that I have said for years. When a technologically superior civilization encounters a technologically inferior civilization, that technologicalyl inferior civilization ceases to exist. We have seen numerous examples of this through the course of our history. We don’t have to look very far into the past to see it.

Sitting Bull, the Hunkpapa Lakota medicine man warned the Lakota to leave everything on the battlefield after the defeat of the five companies with George Custer. His point was that they, the Lakota, did not have the technology to reproduce those artifacts, whether they were guns, steel axes and knives, or even the cooking utensils. He knew that an iron pot was better for cooking than a clay pot and a steel ax was sharper than one created from stone. He knew that the Lakota would become dependent on those things and that would alter their society… probably not for the good.

It was in 1960, I believe, that the Brookings Institute published a document in which they made this observation. The superior technology would overwhelm the society without the technology and that would doom that technologically inferior society.

I mention all this now because I just reread a book that my mother bought for me when I was ten. It was a Fawcett Gold Medal science fiction novel entitled Four from Planet Five. It is about four children who arrive at an Antartic research station in what seems to be a spaceship. Clearly, anyone with a spaceship, back in the middle of the twentieth century anyway, had a superior technology.

Normally, this wouldn’t be of interest to anyone into UFOs, and one or two of the things in the book wouldn’t be of interest to those who read science fiction. However, there was something I found on page 59 that might be of interest to both groups.

To quote from the book:

And he had an immense, a fascinated yearning to work with the innumerable possibilities the technology of the children’s race suggested.

“I don’t like any of this,” he commented to Gail. “If they children’s people find out where they are I don’t see how we humans of Earth can survive the contact with so superior a culture. The American Indians collapsed from meeting a civilization not nearly so far ahead of them. The Polynesians died of mere contact with a whale-ship culture. But we’ve got to face something a lot more deadly.”

You can argue that these examples aren’t just of contact but of warfare. Yes, there was fighting between the expansion of the Europeans into the native territories, but it was the superiority of the technology that actually doomed the indigenous peoples. The rifle and pistol were superior to the bow and arrow but the Indians couldn’t make them. They had to rely on the technology of the Europeans and the Americans for those items.

And it wouldn’t have been just weapons. All sorts of items would be introduced and even if the contact had been benign, the end result would have been pretty much the same. The technology would have won.

But the real point is that this concept, which I have quoted often in the past, was out there, in the world of science fiction before the academics had put it down on paper. Oh, there might by other examples of this in the anthropological history of the human race. I just found it interesting that the concept was part of a science fiction novel published in 1959 that has an impact on the world of the UFO.


John Steiger said...

Yes, there is something to be said for science fiction's interaction with UFOs, even despite Stanton Friedman's assertions to the contrary.

Robert Chase said...

Murray Leinster was a great writer and a very sharp guy.