A racial row has broken out about a science fiction novel, called Revealing Eden: Save The Pearls, written by Victoria Foyt, who self published the book. The book is set in the future where there are two races of people, the Coals and the Pearls. The devastating solar radiation means that only the Coals (who have black skin) can survive outside better than the fair skinned Pearls, but the Pearls are dominated by the Coals and seen as a ‘lesser minority’ race to them. To survive outside, Pearls cover their white skin with dark make-up, and the book focuses on the 17-year-old white heroine Eden who is trying to find love, and shown with half her face in black make-up on the front cover. A huge row broke out when the editor of esteemed US SF online magazine Weird Tales, decided to publish an extract from the book. The decision was attacked by readers, reviewers and authors who all subscribe to the online magazine and the response was so immense that the publisher of Weird Tales had to step in and remove the extract, and make a public apology.
The publisher, John Harlacher, upon removing the editor Marvin Kaye’s original editorial from the site, had this to say, “I deeply apologise to all who were offended by our association with this book. I am offended by it. I fully respect those who have been writing negative things about us today. You are correct. I have not read the novel, but have gone over its online presence today. I have no need to read it. I saw the blackface video and read the excerpts the author and publisher chose to make available. I must conclude that the use of the powerful symbols of white people forced to wear blackface to escape the sun, white women lusting after black ‘beast men’, the ‘pearls’ and ‘coals’, etc., is goddamned ridiculous and offensive. It seems like the work of someone who does not understand the power of what she is playing with.” Harlacher continued that Kaye said, “’if you read the whole book, [Foyt] explains her use of this imagery, and it ends up as a plea for tolerance.’ I say, so what. And that is the position of Weird Tales — and upon reviewing the video and other materials, Marvin is in full agreement.”
The novel has not only provoked criticism on Weird tales but has been the subject of attacks on the internet. Readers of the book have commented that it is, “incredibly racist to pretty much every reader. Especially readers of colour”, and as a “white supremacist fantasy”. “The coals/pearls contrast is itself offensive: after all, coal is dirty and cheap, whereas pearls are beautiful and valuable.” Foyt has not remained silent over these attacks, she has defended herself on Facebook and in blog posts, saying that she “abhor[s] racism”, that the book has received many positive reviews, and “if you ask if all these reviewers are white then consider that you have a racist point of view”. It appears to me that Foyt was trying to switch the typical race roles we live with in today’s society, and put the minority races of colour in the dominant roles, with the white race as a minority. And as far as I can see there is nothing wrong with trying this out as a scenario or as the main plot for a book. I think where people are getting angry is the over use of common racist words to depict the races even though they have switched roles, so who would wish to be a member of the ‘Coals’? However, Miss Foyt defends her use of these terms on this site – savethepearls.com.
You can read the first chapter of Revealing Eden: Save The Pearls by Victoria Foyt for yourself here –