Are humans the meanest species in the universe?

Melinda Snodgrass came up with the idea for her science fiction novel The high ground when she started to think about how horrible human beings can be.

“I had a sudden vision of this nine foot tall ant-like alien creature with mandibles and claws – just a hideous and horrible creature,” Snodgrass says in episode 370 of the Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy Podcast. “And he would curl up in absolute terror of a little human holding a machine gun.” And I started to think about humanity and our tendency to be really nasty monsters. “

The novel takes place in a universe in which a human empire called the Solar League has subjugated five alien species, who now live as second-class servants and citizens. Snodgrass thinks this is a fairly plausible first contact scenario.

“If we invent a faster-than-light car, go out into the universe, and meet other aliens, I’m sure the first thing we’ll do is fuck them up,” she said. “So instead of always fighting alien invaders, we are alien invaders.

She also believes that any moral progress made by humans is much more tenuous than people realize, and that women’s rights could quickly disappear if childbearing becomes a priority, as is the case in the Solar League. “When you go to space and colonize planets, if you happen to find yourself on a planet that is not a planet with golden curls – a world very similar to Earth – where there is in a hostile environment, the thing that becomes a precious commodity is your ability to support the people, ”she said. “So in the years that followed, women relapsed into a much more traditional role. “

All of this creates a lot of conflict for her character Mercedes de Arango, one of the first women to attend the elite Solar League military academy. This is a difficult situation that Snodgrass can relate to, having once been the only female lawyer in his law firm.

“I literally took a group of male lawyers down from that big office building, and I heard them call, ‘We heard Charlie had hired a girl. Where is the girl ?’ Snodgrass said. “And they all came over and looked at me in my office like I was some creature in a zoo. It was very weird. “

Listen to the full interview with Melinda Snodgrass in episode 370 of Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy (above). And check out some highlights from the discussion below.

Melinda Snodgrass on her father:

“My dad was just fantastic, he was the center of my life. I loved him so much, and he gave me all the opportunities – to study opera in Europe, to ride a horse, when I was 16 he made me sit down and said, ‘We’re opening a current account and you have to manage it ”. And so on. At the time of his death he was running a small oil and gas company, and now I actually run the company. I took it over in 2002, and have been running it ever since. So I have this sense of history to be the heir apparent – or heir apparent – to a business. … It’s still weird, because sometimes my father slipped. I had a half-brother, who was much older than me, and Dad would sometimes say, “My other son, John. And then people like Senator Montoya, who was having lunch with us that day, laughed and said, ‘Wait a minute, what is she?’ “

Melinda Snodgrass on Roger Zelazny:

“Roger and I have become very close over the last two years of his life. He joined our playgroup, he came to dine with us many nights. She was the nicest and kindest person I have ever known. … When I had just started to write, this literary agent that I had – who was also Victor milan‘sand Bob vardemanthe agent of – we were all at that dinner at the local science fiction convention, and she said, “You have to change your name.” And Roger immediately said, ‘No. No, she doesn’t. He said, ‘Look at my name. Even though I’m on the bottom shelf in every bookstore, no one forgets my name. And he turned to me and said, ‘Don’t change your name, because no one will ever forget that name.’ And I kept it.

Melinda Snodgrass on the Jean Cocteau Cinema:

“[George R.R. Martin] has made it possibly the best independent science fiction bookstore in the Southwest. Because in addition to the little movie theater, there is a bar – they have a liquor license – and then there are concessions, and he brings in artists and hang their art for a few weeks, so you can see various artists from Santa Fe, and it has all of our books. And when they’re not making movies, there will be events. Connie willis will come, and I’ll interview her, then she’ll sign after. … So you can go buy books, have a White Walker cocktail while you’re at it, watch an independent movie, and when George is in town you will often find him there, sitting in his armchair by the fireplace in the evening, to visit people.

Melinda Snodgrass on Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back:

“I was in this law firm and I hated it. I would go to work in the morning, close my door, cry for about 15 minutes, then take control of myself and continue with my work. … [Victor Milan and I] went to see The Empire Strikes Back, and we got to the scene with Yoda and Luke, and Luke says, “I’ll try,” and Yoda says, “Do or don’t. There’s no trying. ‘ And for some reason it was love at first sight for me, and I was like, “I can spend the rest of my life in this law firm, and in a few years maybe I’ll have the big office and I will terrorize some young people associate with how I am terrified, or I can try to chart my own life. “Do or don’t, there is no trying.” So I walked into the office the next morning, typed a resignation letter, packed my plants and diplomas, put it on my boss’s desk, and walked out.

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