I know when William Shatner and Nichelle Nichols (as Captain Kirk and Lt. Uhura) kissed in Star Trek, in the episode Plato's Stepchildren, it was the first interracial kiss on American TV.

But were there interracial romantic relationships in SF or F before that? I don't mean relationships involving races from other planets, but human relationships that were interracial?

It's possible to portray a romantic relationship without actually showing a kiss or direct contact. (After, for example, it was decades before American TV networks allowed a TV series to show a married couple sharing the same bed, but the couples were still known to be married.)

Are there any romantic relationships in SF or Fantasy that predate this interracial kiss? And if there are examples from print media that are earlier, are there also earlier examples on TV or film?

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    There are hundreeds of examples of miscegnation in print media going back to ancient history. The recent (last few hundred years) history has really been about the negative connotations of this and the mores of the USA. – Stu Wilson Feb 10 '12 at 10:20
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    WTF does “interracial relationship” mean? Especially in an SF context? – user56 Feb 10 '12 at 22:47
  • @Gilles: What do you think it means? – Tango Feb 10 '12 at 22:52
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    @TangoOversway In an SF context? I don't know. Are you after stories that postulate the existence of human races? Or stories set in a racist society and portraying relationships that violate this society's social taboos? Or stories written in a racist society and portraying relationships that violate that society's taboos? – user56 Feb 10 '12 at 23:04
  • Apart from the scientific fact that all humans are of the race, that was not the first "interracial" kiss on American TV, and it wasn't even the first one in Star trek. See e.g. Wikipedia – JanC Jun 17 '12 at 17:34

If you count Jules Verne as "SciFi" as a whole, "Around the World in Eighty Days" (1873) had Phileas Fogg marry an Indian widowed princess Suttee he saved from being burned alive.

By American standards of Kirk's time, I'm going to declare that "interracial", though exact definition of what constitutes "interracial" is extremely vague (see spirited/nasty debates every time the topic comes up on Skeptics SE).

  • Kirk's time? I know that there was a forced kiss (exceptional at the time for TV) but it was hardly a relationship – user001 Mar 11 '16 at 9:50

Othello and Desdemona? That's pretty far back, I am sure there are probably several more answers that go back even further too. -As per comments this didn't necessarily fit within the genre, so:

Claribel and the King of Tunis from the Tempest.

Also references to interracial relationships can be seen in the Prose Edda, and various other classical literature dating very far back.

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    Is that in the SF&F genres? – Tango Feb 10 '12 at 15:44
  • @TangoOversway I suppose not exactly, but it was the one from Shakespeare that popped out at me the most, I'll update my answer with another example from Shakespeare (there are many). The point of the answer was to indicate that interracial relationships have been around in written works forever. – NominSim Feb 10 '12 at 15:56
  • I agree, they've been around forever, but I'm thinking specifically in this genre. I'm wondering if the genre as a whole avoided it for some reason. – Tango Feb 10 '12 at 15:57
  • @TangoOversway I added another Shakespeare reference that falls into Fantasy. There are plenty others as well from even further back. – NominSim Feb 10 '12 at 16:03
  • If you're taking Shakespeare: Midsummer Night's Dream and the donkey, I'm sure this counts as interspecies. – Separatrix Apr 30 '16 at 9:51

DVK has already brought up Jules Verne.

Another, although later, case would be Beren and Lúthien whose story Tolkien wrote first in 1917.

  • That's not interracial in Tango's sense, is it? It's more interspecies :) And definitely after Jules Verne. – DVK-on-Ahch-To Feb 11 '12 at 3:57
  • @DVK: I believe Tolkien named these two races. ICBWT. – sbi Feb 11 '12 at 16:26
  • Heh... Biologist, Tolkien ain't. But I see your point :) – DVK-on-Ahch-To Feb 11 '12 at 17:40

In the Tale of Cupid and Psyche (200 A.D.) (the super abridged version):

Psyche, the beautiful mortal woman, is envied by Venus (Aphrodite). So Venus convinces her son Cupid (Eros) to strike Psyche with one of his arrows while she sleeps, and to place a hideuos man before her. This would cause her to love the hideous man (to nullify her beauty, I suppose). However, he accidentally scratches himself and falls in love with her.

Cupid is quite distraunt and stops performing his duties (of causing people to fall in love) and the Earth weeps. Ultimately Venus is persuaded to give Psyche a series of trials, which she passes, and is allowed to be with Cupid. The two are married (God and Mortal).

Ultimately Pysche is given a special potion that grants her immortality, so she can live forever with Cupid, but it is certainly an interracial couple.

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    I don't think its interracial, or even interspecie...( is "god" a specie?) Interbeeing maybe? – Yasskier Mar 11 '16 at 2:49

A few years before Star Trek, the 1959 postapocalyptic movie The World, the Flesh, and the Devil was about an interracial love triangle involving Harry Belafonte's character and the character played by white actress Inger Stevens. Plot summary from Wikipedia:

African-American coal mine inspector Ralph Burton (Harry Belafonte) becomes trapped underground in a cave-in while inspecting a mine in Pennsylvania. He can hear rescuers digging towards him, but after a few days they slow down and then stop completely. Alarmed, he digs his own way out. Reaching the surface, he finds a deserted world. (No bodies are seen at any time in the film.) Some discarded newspapers provide an explanation: one proclaims "UN Retaliates For Use Of Atomic Poison", another that "Millions Flee From Cities! End Of The World". Ralph later plays tapes at a radio station that an unknown nation had used radioactive isotopes as a weapon, yielding a dust cloud that spread globally and was completely lethal for a five-day period.

Travelling to New York City in search of other survivors, he finds the city vacant. Ralph busies himself restoring power to a building where he takes up residence. Just as the loneliness starts to become intolerable, he encounters a second survivor: Sarah Crandall (Inger Stevens), a white woman in her twenties. The two become fast friends, but Ralph grows distant when it becomes clear that Sarah is developing stronger feelings for him. Despite living in a post-apocalyptic world and despite the fact that Sarah seems unconcerned with their racial difference, Ralph cannot overcome the inhibitions instilled in him in a racist American society.

Ralph regularly broadcasts on the radio, hoping to contact other people. Eventually, he receives a signal from Europe, indicating there are at least a few other survivors. Things become vastly more complicated when an ill, white Benson Thacker (Mel Ferrer) arrives by boat. Ralph and Sarah nurse him back to health, but once he recovers, Ben sets his sights on Sarah and sees Ralph as a rival. Ralph is torn by conflicting emotions. He avoids Sarah as much as possible, to give Ben every opportunity to win her affections, but cannot quite bring himself to leave the city.

Ben finally grows tired of the whole situation, realizing he stands little chance with Sarah as long as Ralph remains nearby. He warns Ralph that the next time he sees him, he will try to kill him. The two armed men hunt each other through the empty streets. Finally, Ralph passes by the United Nations headquarters, climbs the steps in Ralph Bunche Park, and reads the inscription "They shall beat their swords into plowshares. And their spears into pruning hooks. Nation shall not lift up sword against nation. Neither shall they learn war any more", from the Book of Isaiah 2:4. He throws down his rifle and goes unarmed to confront Ben, who in turn finds himself unable to shoot his foe. Defeated, he starts walking away. Sarah appears. When Ralph starts to turn away from her, she makes him take her hand; then she calls to Ben and gives him her other hand. Together, the three walk down the street to build a new future together. The film ends not with "The End" but with "The Beginning".

  • Good answer, but the Jules Verne answer still is ahead of this movie. (But it made me decide to order the movie so I could see it.) – Tango Mar 16 '16 at 0:23
  • @Tango Yes, I only posted this in answer to the subquestion about early examples on TV or film. – user14111 Mar 16 '16 at 1:01

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