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This is a SF novella I read in the late 1980s in the UK.

There is a domed city where people went for refuge generations earlier, the predicted apocalypse never happened but they're unaware.

The outside world, now quite advanced, finally finds a way through the shield barrier and sends one person through, to both make contact and to prepare the lost society for culture shock.

The person, a woman, arrives in the middle of the night, so she has a walk around to pick up cultural clues, she comes to a scary conclusion so hides before daylight.

It seems the cut-off society has had a race war during its history and killed all people of colour, unfortunately the infiltrator is African American and will be slaughtered on sight.

She has a year to survive before the outside people stop the dome shield to make contact, they assume that, by that time, a fully prepared society will be keenly waiting for them.

All she can do is creep around at nights and leave bits of graffiti to try and prepare/enlighten the dome peoples. And hope she can last the twelve months.

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  • The infiltrator is African American? Was the story set in the US?
    – user14111
    Feb 12, 2021 at 6:24
  • I don't think it was explained in the story exactly where the setting was, it just mentioned the problem with her heritage in this xenophobic society
    – Danny Mc G
    Feb 12, 2021 at 6:29
  • Yes, but your use of the term "African American" means that, while you read the story in the UK you recall her as being an American of African descent rather than a Black Englishwoman or Irishwoman or European, right?
    – user14111
    Feb 12, 2021 at 6:45
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    And I'm fairly sure it was written by an American as it mentioned her skin color, not colour
    – Danny Mc G
    Feb 12, 2021 at 7:05
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    @DannyMcG: The use of color instead of colour could just mean that it was a US printing of a UK story - or (less likely) a translation of a story not originally written in English. Though given the black/white racial conflict I think it is most likely to be a US story. Feb 12, 2021 at 8:37

1 Answer 1

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I've found this, 16 months later!

"A Scarab in the City of Time" by Marta Randall.

The background for this story is rather complex. In the far future, people who left a dying Earth return to find the few remaining folks on the planet living in a domed city, cut off from what they think is an unlivable world. The narrator managed to tunnel her way into the city to study its inhabitants, and can't get out. The story actually begins with the narrator acting as a sort of prankster, leaving graffiti everywhere and messing with the city's environmental controls in an attempt to get the inhabitants (and herself) outside, where it is now safe to live. Written in a very fast-paced, feverish, present tense style.

The narrator, in her night time skulking, finds old records of a race war in the city.

Extract from the ebook:

" The books of the City tell of the battles fought, of the expulsion of the black vermin and yellow lice. If I showed my brown face and epicanthic eyes, my bush of light brown hair, they would stopper my mouth with death before I had a chance to speak"

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    So was there a race war?
    – FuzzyBoots
    Jun 21, 2022 at 12:07
  • @FuzzyBoots Yeah, I've updated the answer now
    – Danny Mc G
    Jun 21, 2022 at 12:25

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