If only a time-traveler could enlighten John W. Campbell, or replace him with an editor who could better balance the McCarthy-era U.S. market against the creative forces which drive all of us. But even with a powerful government and racist majority on his side he was unable to forever stop the momentum towards greater diversity and imagination.
Imagine if he had been able to limit sci-fi to straight white U.S.-born ableist males who were not children of immigrants. No Stranger in a Strange Land, no Foundation, no Childhood’s End or “paying it forward.”
What if he had blocked authors who were on the House Committee Unamerican Activities Committee (HUAC) blacklist? No Fahrenheit 451, no “All Summer in a Day” or Martian Chronicles, more Ayn Rand and H.P. Lovecraft. And though he rejected the 11-year-old Ursula K. Leguin, her “Left Hand of Darkness”, “Lathe of Heaven” and “Dispossessed” eventually built bridges to places and ideas far beyond the dreams of any individual’s philosophy.
“(My) greatest fear is that…we would wake from a dream one day having forgotten there were even other possibilities.” — Margarete Mead
In Worldcon 1975 Ursula K. Leguin spoke of moving beyond the ghetto age of science fiction. Progress has been slow but as our genera, authorship and readership expands, may hope be the gravitational force which brings us together.