The Space Traders

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

The Space Traders is a science fiction short story by Derrick Bell.

Published in 1992, its subject is the arrival of apparently benevolent and powerful extraterrestrials that offer the United States a wide range of benefits such as gold, clean nuclear power and other technological advances, in exchange for one thing: handing over all black people in the U.S. to the aliens. The story posits that the people and political establishment of the U.S. are willing to make this deal, passing a referendum to enable it.

The Space Traders was adapted for television in 1994 by director Reginald Hudlin and writer Trey Ellis. It aired on HBO as the leading segment of a three-part television anthology entitled Cosmic Slop, which focused on minority-centric science fiction.[1]

In the run-up to the 2012 U.S. presidential election, the story became the subject of political controversy. A review of the TV adaptation on the conservative news site argued that it "captures the stupidity, paranoia, and shameless race-hustling of the people that [U.S. president and presidential candidate Barack] Obama embraces".[2] In The Atlantic, Conor Friedersdorf replied by arguing that the story's critics "would do well to acknowledge that for many decades of American history, including years during Professor Bell's life, a majority of Americans would have voted in favor of trading blacks for fantastic wealth, unlimited energy, and an end to pollutants."[3]

External links[edit]


  1. ^ Cosmic Slop (1994) entry on
  2. ^ Schlichter, Kurt (8 March 2012). "Derrick Bell’s 'Space Traders' Review: Racist Paranoia ... and George Clinton's Disembodied Head". 
  3. ^ Friedersdorf, Colin (8 March 2012). "The Sci-Fi Story That Offends Oversensitive White Conservatives". The Atlantic. Retrieved 17 March 2012.