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Tuesday, July 14th, 2020

Retro Hugo 1945: Best Novelette

Categories: [ Books/Retro Hugo 1945 ]

Arena

Fredric Brown (Astounding Science Fiction, June 1944)

Just before the decisive battle between the humans and the Outsiders, one individual of each species is pulled out of time by an unknown entity and pitted together on a deserted place, separated by a force field. The entity promises to wipe out the species of the loser of that fight. Both try building various weapons with rock and wood from the few plants and discover that inanimate objects pass through the force field. The human, very near death due to lack of water understands that unconscious beings can pass through too, including when asleep, and that's how he manages to kill his opponent. He then wakes up, the battle over before it even started.

The Big and the Little (The Merchant Princes)

Isaac Asimov (Astounding Science Fiction, August 1944)

The Foundation has expanded by imposing its technology along with its religion to its neighbours. Mallow is sent to Korell, where he escapes a plot involving a missionary from the Foundation to discredit the Foundation and its religion, but still manages to get the elite interested in the technology, ignoring the religious aspect. A few years later, Mallow is tried for causing the death of the missionary, but shows proof that the missionary was in fact a member of the local political police. Mallow thus discredits his political opponent, head of the Foundation clergy and becomes Mayor of Terminus, having gained popular support by having started a fruitful trade with Korell and much reduced the influence of the clergy by exposing its head for conspiring against him. When Korell declares war on the Foundation, Mallow shows that as Korell's industry and society now depends so much on Foundation technology, its people will refuse the war in order to keep their way of life. Mallow thus has resolved the current crisis foreseen by Harri Seldon and taken the Foundation the next step in its History.

The Children's Hour

Lawrence O'Donnell (C.L. Moore and Henry Kuttner) (Astounding Science Fiction, March 1944)

With the help of his psychiatrist, a man tries to remember what happened to him a year earlier, when he was in love with a strange young woman, around whom impossible things tend to happen. As he recovers more and more memories, he concludes that despite looking like a human adult, she was a multidimensional child who was left to play with humans, her guardians making sure that nothing inappropriate happens to her. In the end, the therapy only reinforces the memory block and the man loses memories of his loved one forever.

City

Clifford D. Simak (Astounding Science Fiction, May 1944)

Forty years in the future, thanks to individual and fast means of flying, inhabitants of cities have mostly moved to the countryside, isolated from each other. Only businesses and civil servants remain in the deserted city, against all logic. As the empty houses are invested by squatters who cannot afford to move, the mayor wants to burn the houses to chase the squatters away. But the grandson of a now-rich man decides to buy the houses (in particular the one where his grandfather lived) and turn them into a park and a museum.

No Woman Born

C.L. Moore (Astounding Science Fiction, December 1944)

A famous singer and dancer who had tragically died in a fire a year earlier reappears in a robotic body, her brain having been preserved. Certain that her fans will still love her in this metallic body, she successfully reappears on television. But the man who has constructed her body is convinced that the people will soon forget her, once the novelty has faded out. She is convinced of the contrary, but is still unhappy as she foresees that she will miss a companion like her.

When the Bough Breaks

Lewis Padgett (C.L. Moore and Henry Kuttner) (Astounding Science Fiction, November 1944)

A group of small men arrive from the future into the lives of young parents, telling them that their boy is the first of a generation of super-humans, and his future self has sent them to educate him so that he does not have to wait until he is fifty years old to discover his super powers. The child quickly turns into a tyrant and eventually comes to his doom, thus preventing the advent of the super-humans. The parents are in the end rather relieved.

[ Posted on July 14th, 2020 at 18:39 | no comment | ]

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