‘Women with Wings’ – The SF Novel about Interbreeding with Aliens to Save Humanity from Racial Degeneration

As I wrote in my last piece, I’ve been reading a number of collections of SF stories published by the British Library. These collections are on various themes – other planets, life in space, the threat of the machines taking over – and the short stories are mixed with introductions describing the history of the depiction of that planet or theme in SF. The introduction to the story about Venus notes that before the modern space probes revealed that it was hell planet of scorching heat, crushing pressure and sulphuric acid rain, Venus was often thought of as an Edenic world with peaceful, angelic inhabitants. But I found myself particularly interested in the brief description of the plot of a book published in 1930 by Leslie F. Stone. In his ‘Women with Wings’ the Venusians are humanoids descended from flying fish. Both they and humanity are declining from racial degeneration, which the two peoples successfully combat by interbreeding.

I find this fascinating, as much SF is about the threat of alien invasion, including the rape and forced interbreeding with human women, and occasionally men. You think of fifties B-movies like Mars Needs Women or the lurid covers of the mid-20th century SF pulp magazines with square-jawed earthmen attempting to stop evil Martians or Moon people or whatever carrying off the heroine. Then there’s the plot of Hammer’s notorious Devil Girl from Mars, in which a Martian woman lands in Scotland in order to kidnap a man and bring him back as breeding stock to the Red Planet. This kind of cosmic rape is part of the contemporary UFO abduction myth, in which evil grey aliens from Zeta Reticuli are abducting humans and either physically raping them or harvesting their sperm and eggs in order to create a hybrid race. In some forms of the myth, it’s because the greys are racially degenerate and need to incorporate human genetic material in order to continue. Alien abduction and hybridisation were an integral element in the original X-Files, in which FBI agents Mulder and Scully were pitched against a secret organisation, the Syndicate, who were at the centre of a global conspiracy to create a race of alien hybrids who would be the only survivors of an alien takeover.

At the time Stone was writing, many European and American intellectuals feared real racial degeneration. This was at the hearts of the eugenics movement, that held that the biologically unfit would outbreed healthy people and so the human race would inevitably decline. One element of these fears was the threat of racial interbreeding with the non-White races judged inferior in the contemporary racial hierarchy. Hence the legislation passed by various American states to prevent the congenitally disabled having children and to limit immigration and prevent intermarriage with racial inferiors. These not only included non-Whites, but also Whites from southern Europe. These fears were also expressed in the SF and fantasy of the period, such as in H.P. Lovecraft. Several of Lovecraft’s stories are about racial degenerates preying on normal humanity and forced interbreeding from outside. In ‘The Shadow Over Innsmouth’, an entire fishing community has been taken over by a murderous cult and its people racially mixed through generations of interbreeding with a race of fish people. Stone stands out against these fears through presenting racial mixture with aliens as improving the biological stock of both races. He’s a curious exception to the trend, and I wonder if there were other writers with similar ideas.

These racial fears were the basis for the horrendous legislation and political moves against people of different race and the disabled that culminated in Nazism and the Holocaust. It’d be interesting to know a bit more about Stone and whether he had the same attitude to terrestrial peoples of different colours intermarrying and having children. It might be that such anti-racist attitudes were just confined to that fiction and involved the idea of people breeding with an equal or superior race. But nevertheless, it is remarkable that someone wrote a story that had a positive view of it at all, especially as racist regimes like apartheid South Africa, banned literature with similar themes and messages long into the 20th century. And in Israel there are still Jewish groups devoted to stopping Israelis forming liaisons and marrying Palestinians.


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11 Responses to “‘Women with Wings’ – The SF Novel about Interbreeding with Aliens to Save Humanity from Racial Degeneration”

  1. trev Says:

    In Frederick S. Oliver’s ‘A Dweller on Two Planets’ (a book written via automatic writing) the higher Dimensions of planet Venus are inhabited by androgynous Ascended Masters or Alchemists who have completed the Great Work and merged their Male and Female Soul counterparts into one complete Being.

    • beastrabban Says:

      Interesting. There have been a number of books about space dictated through automatic writing. I think the Urantia Book was one. And Immanuel Swedenborg and his followers believed they had travelled to the other planets in the solar system and met their inhabitants through astral projection.

  2. Mark Pattie Says:

    Nothing would surprise me if Leslie Stone had similar racist views towards black or Native Americans and probably would have believed the Bell Curve BS if it had been around in his lifetime. I see you mention an organization in Israel that prohibits marriage between Israelis and Palestinians. I think there was something similar in Northern Ireland between Catholics and Protestants not so long ago- and likewise in the Balkans up until the 90s/00s?

    • beastrabban Says:

      I haven’t heard of any such organisation in the Balkans, but it wouldn’t surprise me. There were mixed marriages in Yugoslavia between Croats and Serbs, and the children of such marriages were placed in a very difficult situation during the war. Dad had a Yugoslav workmate, who was married to a woman of a different nationality, and he was fighting to stop the government calling up a his son.

      • Mark Pattie Says:

        Which is strange, considering that Croats, Serbs and Slovenians are virtually the same ethnicities. It also kind of blows a BS-shaped hole in the idea of a “White race”. Ditto in Northern Ireland.

  3. Brian Burden Says:

    I see my posting about Megs and Harry has vanished. Was that an editorial decision or is the site robotically programmed to exclude references to royalty?

  4. beastrabban Says:

    It definitely wasn’t done by me, Brian. It must have been automatic by the site. Perhaps WordPress are getting worried after the furore Clarkson caused with his Scum column?

  5. Brian Burden Says:

    Back to SF: A book which has always irritated me is Isaac Asimov’s I Robot. Asimov makes a plea for robots to be granted civil rights, at a time when a substantial wedge of the US’s human population were being deprived of their full civil rights!

    • beastrabban Says:

      You mentioned that before, Brian, and I take your point. I don’t know what Asimov’s politics were. I think they were broadly left-wing in the American context, and he was certainly no fan of Reagan’s Star Wars Programme. But I haven’t read anything either of him supporting the Black civil rights movement.

      Other SF writers did. Harlan Ellison, who wrote the Star Trek episode ‘The City on the Edge of Forever’ and edited the groundbreaking SF anthology ‘Dangerous Visions’ certainly did. I think he may have been one of those who marched on Selma. But I’ve read that he managed to annoy many Black activists by telling them what he thought they ought to be doing.

      • Brian Burden Says:

        I assumed that in the circles in which Asimov moved at that time Black rights were simply not an issue, much as in wartime Britain most people welcomed black G.I.s but few got hot under the collar about segregation in Georgia or Mississippi. My beef with Asimov was that he tried to be philosophical about Human Rights but failed to step outside his ivory tower.

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