This article is about a short story. For the city, see Vilcabamba, Peru.

Author Harry Turtledove
First Appearance Tor.com
Collected The Best of Harry Turtledove
Illustrator Jason Chan
Genre(s) Science Fiction
Publication date February, 2010

"Vilcabamba" is a short story by Harry Turtledove, published at tor.com in February 2010 and reprinted in the collection The Best of Harry Turtledove (2021). It is a science fiction story, set sometime in the 22nd century, 50 years after an alien race called the Krolp had conquered and occupied much of planet Earth.


The story is told from the perspective of President of the United States and Prime Minister of Canada Harris Moffatt III, who rules a rump United States and Canada that runs along the Rocky Mountains and the Wasatch Range with its de facto capital of Grand Junction, Colorado. Washington, D.C. remains the de jure U.S. capital, although it is under the Krolp's control. Moffat's father and grandfather were also U.S. presidents and Canadian prime ministers.

After being left alone for decades, the Krolp demand access to silver and a small amount of gold deposited deep below the surface of northeastern Utah. Moffat, realizing that any Krolp mining operation would probably leave the remainder of the U.S. and Canada uninhabitable, refuses, and launches an uprising. The uprising surprises the Krolp, but is quickly crushed within three days. Moffat and his wife Jessica Moffatt attempt to flee to rump Canada. However, 20 minutes later, they are captured and are forced into exile in the Krolp's North American capital of St. Louis, Missouri.

Literary comment[]

The title of the story is taken from Vilcabamba, Peru, the last outpost maintained by the Incas (whose Empire collapsed in the 1530s) before it was completely crushed by Spain in the 1570s. In the story, the "Secretary of Alien Affairs" shares this story with Moffatt, who is resigned to the fact that his rump U.S. will play that same role. Turtledove analogizes the events of his story to Spanish colonization of South America in several ways. The Krolp are initially greeted with peaceful overtures by humans, which they quickly and violently refuse. The Krolp possess technology far beyond human understanding. The Krolp view humans as sub-creatures, and do their best to "Krolpize" those humans within their control. The Krolp value mineral wealth, and readily break an agreement with the U.S. to get it.

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