It is not an infrequent trope in sci-fi shows for our protagonists to be struggling in their adventure, only to stumble across a seemingly nice self-sufficient society which they are welcomed into, but for it to be revealed later the society survives by cannibalising its own members/new recruits e.g. The Rain "Have Faith", Nightflyers "The Sacred Gift" etc (ep.4 of Vampire in the Garden is a variation).

What was the first story to feature this trope?

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    Possibly a variation of "To Serve Man" by Damon Knight (1950), that was later made into an episode of Twilight Zone (1959).en.wikipedia.org/wiki/To_Serve_Man
    – Zab Zonk
    Apr 14, 2021 at 10:58
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    Considering that this is an obvious update of the old "scary non-European cannibals eat missionaries" stories, with outer space substituted for regions of Earth, the first example is not likely to be in a clear science fiction story. The older science fiction examples show far more resemblance to these types of stories than the two examples in the question, probably because writers started realizing the unfortunate implications of the plot.
    – Adamant
    Apr 14, 2021 at 13:24
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    @Adamant "Name of the Snake" is a fine story by a great writer, but except for having cannibals, doesn't meet any of the requirements of the question. Singular protagonist, not "protagonists"; doing missionary work, not having an "adventure"; doesn't "stumble on" the Analoi, visits them on purpose; and they dont survive by cannibalising", which they onlypractice on the occasional missionary.
    – user14111
    Apr 14, 2021 at 21:45
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    Now who wrote that story about a small town of cannibals in New England?
    – user14111
    Apr 14, 2021 at 21:45
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    @ZabZonk There weren't any cannibals in "To Serve Man".
    – user14111
    Apr 18, 2021 at 12:17

2 Answers 2


In Poul Anderson's Welcome (F&SF Oct 1960), a time traveller into the future finds himself in a highly non-egalitarian society. At the end he is invited to dine and the sit down to "roast suckling coolie".


I asked a different question based on this and I got the answer Disqualified by Charles Fontenay from 1954

A colony world has an underclass of workers who are also used as meat.

Planet of cannibals

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