Rogue Queen – L Sprague De Camp – 1951

There are a couple reviews over at Amazon that talk about the sexism in this novel. I may need to add my own review to counterbalance them. This was written in the 1950s, and while the male characters from Earth are chauvinistic, it’s clear the author knows they are chauvinistic. A truly sexist novel is oblivious to the sexism of the characters. The female characters in the novel don’t universally accept the roles they are ‘supposed’ to fill.

This same issue comes up in discussions of some of Robert Heinlein’s early works — viewed as sexist by many today, but the female characters are mostly strong, shown to be equally intelligent as the men, but forced to live in a chauvinistic society.

It can certainly be argued that the novel is anti-Collectivist. The back cover blurb describes it as a humorous parallel between Communism and bees, and that’s appropriate. However, I’d argue that de Camp goes beyond Communism, and if the book is intended as an argument for anything, it is an argument about the superiority of individualism over collectivism. There is a strong thread of Libertarianism that runs through Science Fiction, and Libertarianism is strongly individualistic, so this isn’t surprising.

This was the first novel I’ve read of de Camp’s, and he definitely displays a sense of humor in it. Encouraging me to search out some of his other books. It also reads like a novelization of a Star Trek episode; though de Camp wrote it a decade before the series appeared on television. Earth spaceship lands on primitive planet. Terrans have a philosophy of non-interference. They end up interfering. Chaos ensues. The fun lies in the details; and I left the book caring about the characters and wondering what happened to them.

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