The Genocides Characters
by Thomas M. Disch

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The Genocides Characters

(Beacham's Encyclopedia of Popular Fiction)

Disch's aesthetic concerns outweigh the other elements of The Genocides. For instance, his characters are variations of familiar stereotypes. The novel features Anderson, the industrious village leader who figures out ways to fight the voracious alien plants that cover the land, driving out all native life. It also features the well-educated man, Orville, whose knowledge of mine engineering helps the small farming community escape the murderous machines of the alien invaders who brought the deadly plants to earth. Other characters include Blossom, the virginal innocent who comes to love Orville; Buddy, the goodhearted son of Anderson; and Maryann, devoted wife of Buddy. These and the novel's other characters are the stock figures found in tales of invasions of Earth by alien civilizations technologically more advanced than our own. Through courage, nobility, and common sense, these stock characters should eventually defeat the invaders. In The Genocides, the stereotype characters are intended to remind readers of those in such novels as The War of the Worlds and The Day of the Triffids, because their failures are meant to contrast with the successes of gallant earth people in most alien invasion stories.

The expectations created by novels about invasions of Earth are defied in The Genocides. Disch found the usual story of humans battling invaders from outer space to be aesthetically unsatisfying. Logically, earth people should lose to superior forces. In The Genocides, the determination of Anderson, the intelligence of Orville, and the devotion of Maryann are all to no avail. Stock characters, who routinely emerge victorious in science fiction novels, lose to an alien civilization that regards humanity as mere pests. One of the aspects of The Genocides that make it controversial is its portrayal of characters whose struggle to survive is meaningless in the face of superior technology. They lose, and all humanity is exterminated.