“The Lion and the Unicorn”
Originally published in Astounding Science Fiction, July 1945
This is the third installment of the Baldy series, written by Henry Kuttner and C. L. Moore under their joint pen name of Lewis Padgett. The reviews of the preceding two stories can be found here and here.
Spoilers to follow.
“The Lion and the Unicorn” opens only a few decades after “Three Blind Mice”. Barton, the protagonist of the previous tale, is still alive. He’s in his sixties, and while a key player, he’s not the central figure in this story. Barton managed to kill the Baldies who had developed the alternate wavelength, but there are others. It turns out the ability to send and receive telepathic messages on this alternate wavelength is a new mutation on the Baldy mutation. And all the Baldies who have it are paranoid. Continue reading
“Three Blind Mice”
Originally published in Astounding Science Fiction, June 1945, as by Lewis Padgett
This story takes place about a generation, maybe two, after the events of the first story, “The Piper’s Son”. The stories in this series present the highlights of the history of the Baldies for the first two hundred and fifty or so years after their mutation brought them forth. As in the last post, there will be spoiler below the READ MORE link.
David Barton is a big game hunter who captures animals and brings them back to North America (the US no longer exists as we would recognize it) for various zoos. It’s how he has managed to adjust and adapt to his mutation. He’s channeled is aggressiveness into something product, an accomplish necessary for a Baldy to survive.
The story opens with him bringing a load of animals to a town in the rocky mountains. He’s flying in, looking forward to having catfish at a restaurant he knows, when he’s contacted telepathically by a woman he’s not met before. Her name is Sue Connaught, and she wants to meet him in person. Continue reading
“The Piper’s Son”
Originally published in Astounding Science Fiction, Feb. 1945
Henry Kuttner wrote a series of stories in collaboration with his wife C. L. Moore about a race of telepathic mutants called Baldies. This series consisted of five novelettes and ran under the Lewis Padgett byline in Astounding Science Fiction in the 1940s. This post will look at the first of them. I’ll look at the rest every Friday and Tuesday until I’ve covered the entire series and the fix-up novel containing them all.
First a bit of backstory. The setting is about one generation, maybe two, after a nuclear war. Chicago, among other cities, was destroyed. There are strict limits on how large a municipality can grow. Any town that gets too large is destroyed.
The radiation blast created a number of mutants. Among them are a race of hairless telepaths known as Baldies. They wear wigs and do their best to blend into society. Understandably, they’re feared and hated by a large segment of the population. Continue reading
I said in my post on Asimov’s birthday a few days ago that I was going to read some stories from The Winds of Change. I did, getting through the first four stories before my eyelids grew heavy. The third story is the oldest in the book, “Belief” from 1953. Asimov notes in his introduction to the story that this was its first appearance in one of his American collections. (The reasons are beyond the scope of this post.)
I thought I had read it somewhere, perhaps in The Great SF Stories, but the ISFDB said otherwise. It did, however, show that the story had been published in a later collection, The Alternate Asimov’s. I had a copy I had picked up years ago that I’d never read, primarily because I didn’t have time to read the original and final versions of the novels The End of Eternity and Pebble in the Sky. The Alternate Asimovs contains the original versions of those novels. It also contains both version of the novelette “Belief”.
It seems the version of the story John W. Campbell, Jr. published in Astounding wasn’t Asimov’s preferred version. Campbell required Asimov to rewrite the ending significantly. I read the original version, and found the experience quite enlightening. Continue reading