1. Uberwatch
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    Uberwatch Active Member

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    Exploring Racism in Sc-Fi setting

    Discussion in 'Setting Development' started by Uberwatch, Sep 10, 2013.

    I'm trying to put together a piece of work that could take a long time to complete. It's a fictional history book that's about Mankind's exploration into space that starts in 2013 AD to 2700 AD.

    There is this one segment I am trying to work on that involves a lot of political conflict on the colonies of Mars. Instead of focusing too much on the battles and the independence of these new Martian nations, I am seeing if I can pull off a plausible version of creating a new human racial group, simply known as the Martians.

    I had this mental image that human colonists living on Mars for 2 centuries slowly adapted and formed a new race. They have the red skin tone, equivalent to the martian surface and have black hair. If you really can't get the idea, it so happens the movie John Carter, based on the book Princess of Barsoom had a race of humans that looked different than humans on Earth.
    [​IMG]

    Honestly not what I had in mind, but expect my vision of a human martian to look like this, but the skin tone is more red.

    So, the reason why I wanted to make this fictional race is to explore racism. Tensions grow between the independent Martian States and the authoritarian Terrans on the red planet. The Terrans had an ideology that the "Terran Race" is the master race of the galaxy against all other alien life, but for some reason, they saw the Martians, whom are technically human as an abomination. This is because of the violent segregation of the Martians in the first place, and their racial culture has been blamed for it.

    What I need help on is if I'm missing something. How can I develop this further? What else should I explore in this subject for my story.
     
  2. Thomas Kitchen
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    Thomas Kitchen Proofreader in the Making Contributor

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    The first thing that sprung to my mind was the amount of time it takes for them to adapt; two centuries is nothing. This will be okay though, as long as you say something about Mars' light, dust, etc. made them that way. Otherwise, it's way too quick.

    It would also be quite interesting to find out what has happened to black people now that a new race has formed, because there is obviously still racism going on today. Would they be shunned even more, and considered as strange as the new race? Would white people "realise" that black people are humans too and give them equal rights (of course we're meant to have equal rights today, but just take a look at the world and you can tell that isn't true).

    Also, how do the Martians react (I also think it would be cool, if that's the right word, to have the word Martians without a capital letter - the "real" humans say they're not worthy enough to even have a capitalised M)? Do they make war, hide themselves away, or what?

    I think by making a new race you can show just how racist the human race is. It sound like a very interesting idea. :)
     
  3. idle
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    idle Active Member

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    Will there be any cultural exchange? Will Martians be (physically) able to live on Earth, or they become too adjusted to lower gravity, etc.?

    If the Terrans are like a majority, and Martians are a specific kind that only lives on Mars, I don't think Terrans would think of them as an abomination. More likely they would just have a lower opinion of them, thinking Martians are provincial, etc., but wouldn't see them as danger. On the other hand, the Martians themselves, as a minority, would probably feel threatened by Terrans' plans for dominating the universe. So, I can imagine some Martian radicals starting the violence, and then Terrans might feel threatened and decide to do something about them.

    Or maybe the Martians didn't develop gradually (I agree with Thomas Kitchen that two centuries are too short for any significant changes, maybe apart from the impact of lower gravity), but helped themselves using technology. Things like DNA manipulation and whatever scary body improvements you can come up with might influence public opinion quite badly.
     
  4. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    Yeah, I think there would also be a lot of coming and going as well. I can't see a Mars cut off from Earth, as long as they're both in existence. If there was travel between the two, or even if the travel was mostly one-way (Earth to Mars) there would be enough genetic new blood to keep any distinctive 'race' from developing.

    The one 'characteristic' that someone born and raised on Mars would be likely to develop would be adaptive size. Lower gravity would mean probably a weaker heart, taller, weedier stature, weaker muscles, etc. I might be havering here ...so let scientific people jump in with the corrected version of what I've just said!

    ER Burroughs lived and wrote during a time period where scientific knowledge of Mars was pretty much nonexistent, other than it showing red on telescopes, with a bit of landform visible in the more powerful ones. It's a mistake to try to apply his fictional ideas to 'real' Mars. Back then, what he was writing was really fantasy, not sci-fi.
     
  5. Uberwatch
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    Uberwatch Active Member

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    This answer applies to the last 3 replies.

    In a possible future, I believe genetic augumentations will assist the development of the human race. This could affect the growth of a martian racial group quickly in some way. I got an idea for this to make sense though. Small physical changes of humans living on Mars (The new generation) have shown since the first man on Mars over two centuries ago, but the race has been distinct since the 2490's (The first colonists arrived in 2061.)

    Now regarding black people, Well let's just say all the human racial groups we know today don't exist in my fictional universe. After generations of interbreeding, the Terrans have become almost one homogenous race. A white man or a black man would be considered a major minority. Also, I am basing this around the current timeline of the 2500's. So I think it's plausible in 500 years, most humans would look the same since we are connected. This is also based off "The Race of the Future" theory.
    SOURCE : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Race_of_the_future
    So basically, 98% of Terrans are of mixed-race.

    I think once the Terrans have shown racial disgust at the Martians, the Martians feel like they are one significant race themselves believing to otherthrow Terran Authority off of Mars. And just to give you some little bits of information, this whole conflict on Mars is based around the separation of Territories between a terraformed river on Mars. One side is loyal under Terra, the other is a confederation of independent Martian nations. While ethnic Martians exist on Terran territory, the Martian side wants to keep everyone Martian. It's ironic because originally the Martians rebelled against the Terrans for such oppressive views, but the Martians themselves are oppressing their own people for breeding and marrying with people of Terran descent. In the end, both sides have a vision of who is the "Superior Race of Mankind".

    Terra believes everyone from Earth is the Master Race, and unlike the other planet colonies, the colonists of Mars were the only ones to adapt and change to the point where they look different. Low gravity caused martians to be more taller than Terrans.

    For the other two who responded on this thread, I hope this helps. (Trying to mash all my answers here.)
     
  6. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    So, other than the timeframe which has already been hashed out here for the formation of a new race*, you would need to explain why the red skin. Humans don't take on the color of the dirt in the areas they inhabit, so that red skin would need a reason for being.



    * Current thinking is that it takes between 25 and 35 thousand years for a true race to develop because of environmental pressures. This is a quite different phenomenon than say, the result of mixed races eventually coming to a median phenotype.
     
  7. KaTrian
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    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I was thinking about the pigmentation thing too. The surface is reddish/butterscotch-y for reason X. What has affected human skin color development on Earth is the need to regulate the amount of ultraviolet penetration. Is that why the surface of Mars is red? (I haven't the foggiest, but I kinda doubt it). On the other hand, this doesn't have to be scientifically valid, it's fiction after all.

    Racism: well, if Earthicans go to Mars, would they be discriminated? I could see the future café latte race of Earth consider their skin tone lovelier than that blasted crab red and perhaps they'd indeed, discriminate against Martians. However, racism isn't always based on color, is it? In my country dark Somalis, white Russians, impossibly white Swedes, and in-between Romanis are equally discriminated. There are other factors too you'll have to take into account when addressing the question of racism in your story.
     
  8. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    The surface of Mars is red for the same reason large swaths of Australia is, iron oxide, a.k.a rust. And though you are correct that you can gloss in fiction, for me there is a threshold. By that I mean, if you go so far as to explain some parts of dynamic X in detail, if you come short or get it plain wrong, that flaw shows rather much. If you don't try to explain it (warp drive) we accept it as a gloss and don't ask more.
     
  9. Uberwatch
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    Uberwatch Active Member

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    Hmm. You are sure helping me out here.
    So let's throw off the whole red-skin thing for now. What possible skin-color could a martian colonist inherit over generations? I thought it would be something to do with the exposure of radiation but by then, the terraformers have already artificially re-created a global magnetic field to protect Mars from radiation.
    As you mentioned, by current thinking it would take 25 and 35 thousand years for a true race to develop. This is accurate for humans living on Earth, since in reality we only live on one planet. The effects of a human slowly evolving on Mars is really unpredictable. Of course, we humans are already changing ourselves with body modifications and such.

    So this opens up a new idea I can possibly add. The Red Martian Race can be a symbol. Other than the fact that all People living on Mars are changing slowly due to the environment (Mars is also slowly terraforming), the Nationalistic Martians have placed genetic enhancements in their genes so their children could bear physical and genetic traits thus bringing back the redskin, black hair martian. Maybe this would work for the racial distinction between Terrans and Martians living on the red planet. The Terrans are just keeping it the way Humans are meant to be, but the Martians are purposely changing themselves in an act of uplifting culture and pride.

    It's my goal for the martian race part of my book to make sense. I just need an idea or an event that can make it work. So originally, the martians just evolved on Mars, but as you pointed out, it scientifically does not make quite any sense.
     
  10. Uberwatch
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    Uberwatch Active Member

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    Well the Terrans (Earthicans as you call it. Like that name) were the first people on Mars in the first place. The Martians wouldn't exist if Humanity didn't colonize the red planet. Now you said racism isn't always based on color. True. And it's not how the Martians got discriminated. The martians violently segregated against the Terrans. On Earth it's Zero-Tolerance for a group of people to start a revolution (Which is why in my lore, Earth hasn't had a war for over a 100 years). Martians have become stereotyped has violent and power-hungry by loyal Terrans. Then, the whole physical pigment thing has taken into place since they realized they look different. Hope that makes sense.
     
  11. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Ah, now you have something here that I like and can sink my literary teeth into because it also give a motivation for the exploration of racism. :) If there is, as you have mentioned, an element that artificially accelerating mutation rate, then the Martians could easily select for color with a purpose that is consciously driven, not environmentally driven. Even this kind of selection would take some time. You might get a fairly homogenous red race of people close to the end of the 700 years you are planning.
     
  12. Uberwatch
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    Uberwatch Active Member

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    I'm thinking this Martian race process could take around 400 years in this 700 years time frame. Do you have any idea what should I call this process? At the time when this mutation was in conception in my story's timeline, it should have a name and a ceremonial thing to it. Like the Martian colonists were forced to take some genetic drug enforced by their new government.
     
  13. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Well, a mutagenic compound is not going to be so selective. You could write it that way, but then you take away some of the power of the Martians wanting to be different, wanting to be a recognizable people. Let them select for it, then you can have other layers of complexity to exploring racism. You could have those who don't want to select for it, who feel it's not right, not beneficial. This gives you the opening to the dynamic of racism within a race, which very much exists.
     
  14. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Find "The Martian Death March", by Ernest Kinoy. You might not be able to find a print version - it was aired as an episode of the radio science fiction series X Minus One. When you listen to it, you will see parallels to how the American settlers from Europe treated the native Americans.
     
  15. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    Genetics: It takes thousands of years for big changes like racial features (BTW, human differences are insignificant in terms of genetics, we are all one race, our differences are ethnic). I like the idea of manipulated genetic changes to speed things up. But body size has changed in much shorter time frames. Only a century ago people on the American continents were a few inches shorter on average. The mechanisms behind the changes are probably more epigenetic than purely inherited genetics. A gene can be turned on or off more easily than a new gene can evolve and spread into a population. I believe you could expect to see population changes due to the lower gravity on Mars within only a couple generations.

    Dark skin evolved more than once, growing lighter as humans migrated toward the poles and darkening again as they migrated toward the equator on new continents. On Mars people would be light skinned given the low level of Sun's rays, however, it's possible some other mechanism for producing vitamin D might evolve, or humans might, at least for a time, be dependent upon any number of artificial replacements for micronutrients that we acquire naturally on Earth.

    In fiction one has any number of scientific realities to play with to get the 'race' you wanted to get.
     
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  16. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    Remember that evolution happens because some people are able to survive and reproduce, and some are not. It's about death and reproduction. So in a fairly technical environment where people are sheltered and have medical care, you're not going to see accelerated evolution, and in fact you're probably not going to see environmentally-influenced evolution at all.

    Unless you find a set of plot elements that mess with life and reproduction.

    So:

    Mars has some environemental condition that kills people unless they regularly take some drug or dietary supplement.

    The supplement turns their skin red, and the longer they take it, the redder it is.

    It also makes most people sterile.

    A small subset of people have a genetic advantage that allows them to take the supplement without being made sterile.

    That genetic advantage happens to be associated with black hair.

    Ta da!
     
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  17. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    What about deliberate genetic engineering? I could easily see that leading to the perception of a lesser race in the eyes of the "naturals".
     
  18. Uberwatch
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    Uberwatch Active Member

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    In reply to Wreybies,

    There's also another part I'm trying to explore where there are ethnic groups within the Martian race that have a clash. One of them descended from miners who worked underground that rebelled against a Terran corporation and the other was a wealthy royal Family that started their own kingdom. The Martians hated the Terrans, but they weren't happy with themselves either, despite their ancestors took the "Drug".
     
  19. Uberwatch
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    Uberwatch Active Member

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    I like the idea of needing the drug to survive on Mars, but the thing is, Terrans can survive without protection on Mars too. Mars has already been terraformed in a way. The atmosphere is breathable. The entire world is artificially protected from radiation but a lot of flora and fauna isn't available which is why the Martians recognize the red ground of the world.

    I've been thinking since I have discussed this further about Martians being taller. Now there are 3 groups I can come up with.

    Martians - Tall and genetically engineered over generations. Redskin and Black hair
    Terrans - Natural Humans from Earth. Ironically have taken medical advances to not grow taller than the average human height on Earth.
    Terro-Martian - Natural Humans from Earth, however are much taller because of being on Mars for generations. Did not take the "Red Drug".
     
  20. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Be that the case, that there are ethnicities and races within the Martian group itself, it will be important to know about hypodescent, when and how it applies.
     
  21. Uberwatch
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    Uberwatch Active Member

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    Could work. Maybe the drug was used first, but then they figured out how to make people "Martian" deliberately.
     
  22. KaTrian
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    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Staff Supporter Contributor

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    How about the gravity of Mars? I remember it was different to Earth's which directly affects landing and rocketing out of the planet with a spaceship. Gravity could affect the height of people over time, couldn't it? Unless humans somehow manipulate it.

    In this one science mag, there was an issue about how humans would evolve if we lived a longer time in space. I think the skin was supposed to grow thicker due to radiation or something, but I can't find the article now.

    'Earthicans' is from Futurama x) Well, it's probably been used elsewhere too...
     
  23. Uberwatch
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    Uberwatch Active Member

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    I think I've stated that the gravity of Mars would affect the Martians. But in my story, the loyal Terrans manipulated it with some augmentation so they wouldn't grow taller than the average human height on Earth.
     
  24. KaTrian
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    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Yeah, I may have missed that bit. Gravity -- or lack thereof can be such a joykill. Luckily, science doesn't seem to be able to really explain it, so there's some leeway to how to employ it in a fictional setting.
     
  25. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Also (and you may have covered this already, but just in case...) the Martians are going to have to live inside bio-domes or underground. Terraform the surface all you like, there is one glaring problem from which Mars suffers as regards making it habitable: no electromagnetic field. Mars is cold inside, no molten core to spin into an electromagnet. The Earth's EM field has saved us uncounted times from being fried by solar ejecta and emissions. Even as far out as Mars, with no EM field to shield them from an ejecta hit, they would not last long at all.
     

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