Yellow Peril… how can a phrase that reeks so of racism and paranoia yield a body of fiction so… cool?
The term originated in the late nineteenth century. Chinese immigrants were flooding our western shore and spreading throughout the country at a time when their homeland was growing more and more militaristic. Could this mass immigration be a silent first wave of an eventual invasion?
Chinese villains became regulars in the penny dreadfuls. In 1913 Sax Rohmer created the paradigm for all oriental evil from then on: Fu-Manchu. (He dropped the hyphen after the third novel.) I became enthralled with the good doctor at age fifteen when I met him in the pages of the Pyramid reprint of The Insidious Doctor Fu Manchu. I became a fan of the pulps and particularly enjoyed the exotic yellow-peril stories they regularly featured. (Even the Shadow had a recurring nemesis named Shiwan Khan.)