In a memoir by Algis Budrys in Worlds of If, A Retrospective Anthology, he writes

I remember-unfortunately not in detail-a short story in which a returning white astronaut finds the US firmly in the hands of blacks. The blacks were depicted as rather middle-class types, given to three-piece suits and lip-service liberalism, which made their ineradicable basic antiwhite racial bias all the more poignant. The whites were called "sharkies" – this was long before the common use of "honky"…

He goes on to say that it appeared in Worlds of If in the early 1950s.

My searches have failed to turn up the story. Can anyone ID it?

  • Looks like you already have your answer. But for a similar theme see Farnham's Freehold by Heinlein. A white family is cast fowards in time after their bomb shelter is in the very epicenter of a nuclear bomb. In the far future only the African nations survived the war intact and have enslaved the white races. In fairness, the book is in my opinion... not great and aged terribly. And the attempts at critiquing racism resulted in "an anti-racist novel only a Klansman could love" according to one modern review.
    – NullWaltz
    Commented Mar 10, 2020 at 17:17

1 Answer 1


Alan E Nourse's "Marley's Chain" as per this review, appearing in If, September 1952.

Front cover of If of September 1952

Nuclear wars, fought among the whites, have turned them into a minority; majority of those living are now blacks (I guess author is referring only to US?) There is some sort of uprising, bringing out centuries of stored hatred – so it's now a black man's US where whites ("Sharkies") aren't welcome.

Tam Peters, a white man, has just returned after many years of work on other planets to find his US has no place for him anymore. He will eventually resolve his dilemma the way of Kurt Vonnegut's "The Big Trip Up Yonder" (download)!

Found with a search for science fiction "sharkies" black racist. Available here on Project Gutenberg.

  • 1
    Nice job, thanks! Commented Mar 9, 2020 at 4:31
  • 2
    I found it by searching for "shark" in early issues of If at archive.org. Also found my paper copy of that September 1952 issue. Only took me a few minutes. Not fast enough though.
    – user14111
    Commented Mar 9, 2020 at 6:43

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