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Review: L. Sprague De Camp's Rogue Queen (1951)

L. (Lyon) Sprague De Camp, 1907- .

Rogue Queen, © 1951.

This was pretty interesting sf, but annoying as hell. Even for the early 50s. Some of the reviews on the cover of the edition I read (Bluejay Books, April 1985; ISBN 0-312-94396-2) said "An amusing parallel between theoretical communism and the beehive is shown in this fantasy of an otherworld race of oviparous humans organized in a bee-like social structure. Mr. de Camp instills a lot of subtlety in his story of their conversion to the social mores of Earthmen as the outcome of the visit of a spaceship from Earth." -- Hartford Courant. Subtle? I beg to differ.

Yes, the plot has an egg-laying queen, who is fertilized by a harem of male drones, and supported by neuter female workers. One of the workers and one of the drones hit up a friendship, and when circumstances force them to abandon their Community-policy diet (vegetarian for her, meat for him), she becomes fertile & they are irresistibly drawn to each other. When her breasts start growing and she starts feeling submissive, she seeks advice from a human female (known as a "female man": humans were introduced to the Ormazdians as "men", and of course there are both male and female "men". Even if Joanna Russ had not written The Female Man, this would have been glaringly, amusingly, obvious.). The former-worker & former-drone determine that "man's" system of monogamous marriage is the best one, and determine to foment a revolution on their planet to spread this new social system. In fact, it is apparent that the current, Communist-style system is responsible for the technological regression of their society from healthy "bisexuality" and progress.

The funny thing is that this story is such a satire of itself, now, that if it were written today it would be targeted as a "political correct satire."

One final campy note: the illustrations of the spaceship are screamingly phallic, and the title on the spine was mistyped: Rouge Queen.

-- lq, 7/5/00


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