In the grim darkness of the far future, discount rx there is only WAR — not between neck-bearded man-children with vast armies of expensive figurines, web but between the forces of Earth and the dreaded Centurians.
Though the conflict has dragged on for hundreds of years, angina the involved parties have never seen each other face to face. Ship-to-ship weaponry and electronic countermeasures have advanced to a point where the first shot is the only one that matters…
…which explains why the crew of the Earth space cruiser ESF Rumsfeld (actually unnamed in the story, but I made a guess based on the evidence) gets a tad antsy when they encounter a Centurian warship during a routine patrol.
The deadly game of space-cat and cosmic-mouse is interrupted by the arrival of an unexpected third party…
….a strike craft from a previously unknown alien race which swoops in and deals the Centurian ship a crippling blow.
While the Earthmen are glad for the assist, their gratitude is tempered by the discovery that their erstwhile allies are the product of natural selection within radically different planetary environmental conditions and thus do not conform entirely to terracentric morphology. In other words, they look like, well, aliens.
On the other hand, the Centurians — who have sent out a repair crew to perform some emergency damage control — bear a startling resemblance to the Earthmen.
Per the standard conventions of Silver Age sci-fi comics, this is the point in the story where the writer channels the narrative thrust of the tale into a statement about making judgements based solely on appearance…
…which happens to be “white folks need to stick together in the conflict against other races.”
As it turns out, the centuries of war were the result of a simple mistake in which each party mistook the other’s “peace through destroying anything that doesn’t look like us” stance as an act of aggression. United by the bonds of racial solidarity and psychotic xenophobia, the reconciled Earthmen and Centurians vow to work together to cleanse the galaxy of the aliens and put a permanent end to their unforgivable crime of looking different than humans.
The next time some genre-booster fanboy or fangirl starts droning on and on about how “progressive” and “forward-thinking” geeks and geek culture tends to be, feel free to load up this post…then bash the clueless mofo on the head with your monitor.
(from “The Human Element,” Space Adventures #44, Feburary 1962)
IMPORTANT POSTSCRIPT: If you’re looking for another fix of Silver Age sci-fi insanity — only with less overtly fascist overtones and more simian hijinx — check out Pal Dave’s latest installment of This Used To Be The Future, in which he chronicles the shocking events of “Captain Baboon’s Space-War!” (So, c’mon already! The title alone is worth a click!)