Tony and the Beetles

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"Tony and the Beetles" is a science fiction short story by American writer Philip K. Dick, first published in Orbit Science Fiction, No.2, in 1953.

The story is told from the point of view of a young boy, Tony, living on an alien world that humans have conquered. The native species are beetle like creatures called the Pas-udenti, some of whom Tony has befriended. As news reaches the planet that the war has turned against the humans, Tony attempts to carry on his daily life, to disastrous effect.

The conflicts in the story focuses on and are exacerbated by contradictions in Tony's existence and outlook. While opposed to the outright xenophobia displayed by his father, showing empathy towards the Pasudenti in the abstract context of 'The War', he has grown up ignorant of how he and his family are, to the native population forced to treat them as first-class citizens, still an active reminder of what he views as a far-off event.

The story highlights the complexity and harm that can be caused by institutional racism and race relations. Tony, in interacting with the world around him is sympathetic to others, regardless of race, but his youth also blinds him to the fact that the status quo he longs to return to is a racist one where he is the primary beneficiary.

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