Remember the optimistic picture that Gene Roddenberry put forth in the Star Trek mythos: the moment humanity had a close encounter of the third kind, all racism, sexism, homophobia, would end. All of the internecine squabbles that have held mankind back would simply fall away with the humbling knowledge that we were not alone. Nemesis the Warlock has that as its core message as well: when humanity encounters alien life, it sheds its petty differences and unifies as never before.
To purge the galaxy of weirdoes and deviants in a terrifying new dark age where the word “human” is synonymous with “bloodthirsty religious fascist”.
I remember the first Nemesis story I read – part of a serialised story read out of order in purloined issue I got from somewhere: The story of two humans trapped on a terrifying planet of giant spiders. They were engaged in a desperate struggle to stay alive (a struggle which one of them failed in a spectacularly gruesome way) and to end the nightmarish rule of the arachnid overlords. I had to read the story several times; I knew all of those tropes, but they were upside down. That story (a pretty bog-standard sci-fi idea by even my ten-year-old standards) just didn’t make any sense if the spiders were the good guys.
The more stories I read – where the hero was a demonic figure who breathed fire, and his main lieutenants as the story wore on were a gang of kill-happy robots with an undisguised loathing of humans – the less sense it made to me. It was great stuff. Still is.
Related to the three volumes of Nemesis is the ABC Warriors story The Black Hole, where, basically, a group of shockingly violent robot soldiers have to travel through an unstable time-tunnel to shut down a black hole. Total craziness. Nasty, nihilistic, and the most fun I’ve had reading on the bus in ages.
Here the thoughts of the commander, Hammerstein, as he’s undergoing his military programming:
Signals go back and forth between my master and secondary programs. Contradictory signals.
It’s alright to kill humans in battle. But not in camps.
When they murder civilians, it’s an atrocity. When we murder civilians, it’s tough retaliatory action.
Rebels on our side are freedom fighters. Rebels on their side are terrorists.
It’s good to love animals. Then kill and eat them.
But not children.