Having devoured Harg, giant green squid monster Kroll is off to the settlement of the People of the Lakes, known to Harg’s compatriots by the derogatory name of ‘Swampies’.
Constructed from tropes and white liberal guilt, these green space Indians are still better than the blue ones in Avatar. They don’t get their world back in the end (neither did the Cherokee) and don’t get a white man as a leader.
“The Swampies most certainly do have some problems,” chuckles Thawn – Company man, racist and boss of the Refinery.
“You know,” muses his second-in-command Fenner, a cynical and cowardly man, “I don’t particularly like the Swampies… but I can’t say that I really hate them.” He is just decent enough to be faintly disturbed by Thawn’s open callousness.
Suddenly serious, Thawn says “Oh, I don’t hate them Fenner. I just want them permanently removed. I spent many years persuading the Company to back this project, and now that we’re on the verge of success I’m not going to be stopped by lily-livered sentimentalists wailing about the fate of a few primitive savages.”
Thawn is lying, of course. He hates them. He thinks they’re inferior, worthless… but he never mentions the fact that they’re skin is a different colour to his. In many ways, this story downplays race too much as an axis of oppression… and then, on the subject of axes of oppression being downplayed, there’s the fact that there seem to be no women on the planet at all apart from Romana.
To Thawn, the worst thing about the Swampies is that they’re in his way. They’re bad for business. They sit on resources that Thawn claims, but which happen – irritatingly – to be buried in someone else’s land. So, for the sake of Progress, you have to get rid of the ‘savages’.
Thawn and Fenner hold these truths to be self-evident.