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Schuyler, George S

Entry updated 18 March 2024. Tagged: Author.

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(1895-1977) US author whose first sf novel, Black No More: Being an Account of the Strange and Wonderful Workings of Science in the Land of the Free, A.D. 1933-1940 (1931) is a Satire featuring the Invention of a transformative cosmetic treatment that can bleach Blacks permanent white; the protagonist, now white (for what that means: Schuyler scathingly mocks any understanding of race as being defined by anything more significant than external circumstances), becomes a leading member of the Ku Klux Klan (see Race in SF). Acutely anticipative of a later consensus on this aspect of the Matter of America, Schuyler underlines the devastating effect on the South when its cheap Black labour disappears.

Much of Schuyler's later sf, sometimes as by Samuel I Brooks or Rachel Call, appeared during the 1930s in the Pittsburgh Courier, an eminent Black newspaper, and was written in a Pulp-magazine style. Unusually, Schuyler often used these pulp conventions to advance specific political arguments, mostly concerning Ethiopia, whose invasion by Fascist Italy in 1936 deeply outraged Black communities in America and elsewhere, though some of these novellas – like "Golden Gods: A Story of Love, Intrigue and Adventure in African Jungles (December 1933-February 1934 Pittsburgh Courier) as by Samuel I Brooks, a Lost Race tale; or "The Beast of Bradhurst Avenue: A Gripping Tale of Adventure in the Heart of Harlem (March-May 1934 Pittsburgh Courier), about a German Mad Scientist's attempts to graft the brains of decapitated Black women onto dog bodies – dealt with other matters.

But the two tales assembled in Ethiopian Stories (coll 1994) are deeply involved in Politics: in "The Ethiopian Murder Mystery: A Story of Love and International Intrigue" (5 October 1935-? February 1936 Pittsburgh Courier) a series of murders leads to the discovery of an Italian plot to prevent the Ethiopian government from obtaining a newly invented Death Ray; and in "Revolt in Ethiopia: A Tale of Black Insurrection Against Italian Imperialism" (16 July 1938-21 January 1939 Pittsburgh Courier) as by Rachel Call, Ethiopian patriots and their foreign supporters search for a cache of gold protected by ancient seers (see Lost Race; Immortality) in order to finance a successful fight-back against Italy. Of greatest interest is probably Black Empire (21 November 1936-3 July 1937 Pittsburgh Courier as "The Black Internationale: The Story of Black Genius Against the World" and 2 October 1937-16 April 1938 Pittsburgh Courier as "Black Empire: An Imaginative Story of a Great New Civilization in Modern Africa"; 1991), intro by John A Williams, which describes the founding of a successful revolutionary Utopia in Africa and the development of a sophisticated Technology capable of defeating European attempts to reconquer the continent. The tale is a clear retrospective model for the development of contemporary Afrofuturism, and in terms of the literature of his native country, Schuyler is of specific sf interest for his use of Genre SF tropes from a Black point-of-view in 1930s America to propound radical arguments about fascism and race. His Ethiopian settings may have been loosely modeled on Pauline Hopkins's Of One Blood; Or, the Hidden Self (first appeared November 1902-January 1903 The Colored American Magazine; for various book iterations see her entry), which climaxes in an Ethiopian Utopia. [JC/PN]

George Samuel Schuyler

born Providence, Rhode Island: 25 February 1895

died New York: 31 August 1977



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