The/Time, Like an Ever-Rolling Stream Ragged World Essay - Critical Essays

Judith Moffett


The ecological and political assumptions of Judith Moffett’s Hefn novels—that Earth is so badly damaged that only the intervention of alien creatures can save it—are as firmly held as any of those on the opposite side of the political spectrum. Fallen Angels (1991) by Larry Niven, Jerry Pournelle, and Michael Flynn, for example, posits that ecological regulations will result in another Ice Age. The basic situation of the Hefn on Earth is reminiscent of Cold War alien intervention tales such as director Robert Wise’s film The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951), in which aliens demand that humanity give up the self-destructive powers of atomic weapons.

The Hefn, though not as spectacularly destructive as the robot policeman Gort, are even more frightening in their suggestive powers and are more immune to human protestations of innocence than is the Christlike Klaatu. When Humphrey is almost killed, his first impulse is to kill his attacker. Moffett’s aliens are truly alien, and one of the main thrusts of the story line is how humans and Hefns learn to understand, appreciate, and eventually love one another.

From the ecological premises it logically follows that any human resistance movement against the Hefn will not be represented as one would be in, say, John W. Campbell, Jr.’s Astounding Science-Fiction. That magazine’s stories would have featured heroic, independent rebels dedicated to restoring humanity’s freedom. Such rhetoric is ironically present in Moffett’s novels, but most of the impetus for the resistance movement against the Hefn is bound up with...

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