Originally written in 2013, this is the final chapter in a three-part installment on Christopher Columbus beginning with The Other Explorers and Hunting Prestor John in the End Times. This post ponders how the destruction of the Americas, and the accompanying legacies of colonialism and slavery, help shape the fears of our popular imaginings–including science fiction.
Everyone knows that in 1492 an Italian sailor named Cristoforo Colombo sailed the ocean blue, stumbling across what we would eventually come to call the Americas. But while his voyage may have been the first of its kind, he was by no means the first explorer. With the exception of the Americas, the late medieval world from which Columbus emerged was one of long-established contact, as trade and curiosity sent out earlier explorers, seeking across both land and sea.