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Humanity, FY, comin’ again to entertain the MFin’ world, yeah.

By Psycho Gecko, author of World Domination in Retrospect

May 11, 2017: The rather family-unfriendly-named genre of "Humanity, Fuck Yeah" has been one of my guilty pleasures for years now. Based on a perception that humanity is often depicted as weaker physically and/or mentally than most alien species, it is an attempt to instead make humans the stronger species, sometimes even a sci fi settings equivalent of the bogeyman. In a way, it harkens back to earlier stories in science fiction like John Carter of Mars.

I bring all that up because Deathworlders began its life as yet another HFY story. In it, humans are classified as non-sapient fauna of a deathworlder, and thus couldn’t possibly be sapient as far as the greater galactic community believes. They’re also capable of easily killing members of a species of aliens who want to kill and eat every other sapient lifeform they can get their hands on, all with their own bare hands. But will humanity get along well with the rest of the galaxy? The main character of that first story, Kevin Jenkins, doubts that thanks to the inherent craziness of humanity, with religion as his evidence.

It would be easy to dismiss the story’s beginnings as a bit of HFY with a dash of atheist smugness thrown in, but it quickly gets better. The author puts a great deal of work in building a more realistic world that isn’t pushing those particular buttons. Kevin wasn’t automatically right for being the viewpoint character; he was flawed and gets called out on it.

The idea of humans as being from a Deathworld is explored more in-depth, and the universe’s flaws as presented in the story are peeled back to reveal a much greater struggle going on, one that humanity is in even greater danger from than any other species.

In the process, a few other stories are weaved in that are set in the same universe and canon. The author does a good job of meshing them with the main continuity so that it isn’t required to go back and read through an entirely separate story just to understand the characters or their actions.

If you’re expecting the story to stay as short as the original version, don’t get your hopes up. This is a long one, covering years as humanity starts the process of becoming a player on the galactic stage. And yes, starts. I’ve run across a bad story or two before that ignores the unequal development of the real world and the mess of its politics. Part of how Deathworlders attempts to more realistically reconstruct the HFY tale is to bring that up. America isn’t out there saving the day on its own, but neither is Earth one big unified, happy family.

The author also puts an incredible amount of work into either researching a wide range of relevant subjects, or in faking the technobabble to do so. You won’t find any emergency power from the replicators being rerouted through the secondary deflector dish here, but there may be the occasional insight into antimatter, blacksmithing, human anatomy, and journalism. I happen to like a story that smart, though everyone has their own tastes.

As far as weaknesses go, there are a few viewpoint characters that I have difficulty connecting with. It’s a slog to read them, and sometimes I skip over them, with relatively little loss of content. A certain survival-minded entity and a more recently introduced species are the culprits there. Their POVs are a lot more alien than anything else in the story, and it just makes them a hassle. I find I enjoy their contributions to the story better when viewed from a more relatable narrative viewpoint. The same problems don’t exist with any other aliens, like the Gaoians or Kirk, and I like seeing their POV when I get the chance.

So if you like HFY but want to see a more thought out version of the stories, then I hope you’re not scared of words. This one’s got a lot of them for you to enjoy.

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