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Invite Him ?

— Over M ,r
Dead Body!
Debbie was right. Chuck was a /swell Simply inse the mouth with Listerine
i

kid, but at a real nice partyhe^vould Antiseptic before an^ date where you
simply be excess baggage. ( A late he want to be at your best. How quickly it
laid been pretty careless about a rather freshens . what a wonderful feeling of
. .

important thing, and th^ news got assurance it gives you!


around fast. Lots of the girls considered
While sonje cases of halitosis are of
a dance with him equivalent to a prison
systemic origin, most cases, say a num-
sentence. Too bad somebody didn’t tip
ber of authorities, are due to the bac-
him off*!
terial fermentation of tiny food particles
Take your own case . . . are you sure clinging to mouth surfaces. Listerine
that your breath isn’t on the offensive Antiseptic halts such fermentation, then
side? overcomes the odors fermentation
Why guess about it*. why risk . . causes. Almost immediately your breath
offending when Listerine Antiseptic pro- becomes sweeter, fresher, less likely to
vides such an easy and delightful pre- offend.
caution? Lambert Piiahmacai. Company, St Louis,Mo.
.
A (Iran's a fool to go around
podket burning with extra money ONE PERSON CAN START BTB
when he ought to buy an bc- You Qlvo Inflation a boost...
cause that loose lettuce is the
is made of. When that
inflation
goes
— when you buy anything
you can do without
hunting for civilian goods hard
to find as Crosby in a
—when you buy above ceil-
ing or without giving up
push up prices. Besides, it c xi t make stamps (Black Market I)
sense when twelve million kids are fighting — when you ask more
our battle for any of us to hilcn up the cost money for your services or
of living by buying anything we can live the goods you sell.

without. Savo Your Money. Buy and


hold all the War Bonds
you can afford— to pay
for the war and pro-
tect your own future.
Keep-up your
insurance.

AST— 1R
SCIENCE FICTION
(*«. 0. 3. Pat Of.

CONTENTS
AUGUST, 1945 VOL. XXX V, NO. 6

SERIAL
WORLD OF A, by A. E. van Voyt 7
Three Parte — Part One

NOVELETTE
GIFT HORSE, by Ross Rocklynne 1141

SHORT STORIES
I
INTO THY HANDS, by Lester del Key ... . 47
PIPELINE TO PLUTO, by Murray Leinster . . . Oft

PARADOXICAL ESCAPE, by Isaac Asimov , . 70

ARTICLES
ADVANCE IN THE RED, by R. 8. Richardson . 00

READERS- DEPARTMENTS
THE EDITOR PAGE
THE ANALXT* AL LABORATORY .

Editor COVER BY TIM '»

JOHN W. CAMPBELL, JR.


Illustrations• >’
'
<Ur, , Orban and Williams
<

The (tutorial contents new not bt_. , before,, aro proie?tfd tt»
ropyrleJit and cannot b* reprinted without » permlmlon. All etories
In this maganln* are Action. No actual •re designated by name or
character. Any almllarity t« coincidental.

Monthly publication issued oy Street A


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Incorporated.
122 Bast 42nd Street. New York IT. N.
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President and Secretary. Copyright, 1946, tn 0. 8. A. and Oreat Britain
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NEXT ISSUE ON SALE AUGUST 21, 104C


Science To Come
Science-fiction characteristically not a conscious effort, the otherwise
bases its material almost exclusively normal lining of the stomach can
in the physical sciences more or — be destroyed. Physically, visibly
less necessarily so, since the physical eaten away.
sciences are the only sciences avail- Hysteric blindness, paralysis, or
able to our particular culture. There the like are phenomena of the same
are a number of indications, how- order, but don’t ordinarily involve
ever, that if our culture doesn’t the physically visible phenomenon
start getting to work on some of of destruction of healthy tissue.
the less known sciences rather Every doctor is, of course, well
promptly, “there ain’t gonna be no” acquainted with the acknowledged
culture. Specifically, it’s slightly fact that the duration of an illness,
fatal to knowabout the outside
all or even its final outcome, is strong-
world, and practically nothing about ly affected by the patient’s mental
ourselves. attitude.
Currently, the “mental sciences” There have been many recorded,
are simply not sciences which is, — well authenticated cases of inex-
of course, why they don’t rate as almost miraculous cures, of
plicable,
so-called “physical” sciences. such conditions as inoperable can-
Xrays, and various other types of cer. The cancer simply, for un-
radiation can cause tissues to dis- known reasons, withers and van-
integrate and slough off. friend, My ishes.
you can do it by a pure effort of Healthy skin can be destroyed by
will —
you can, by simply willing it, purely nervous controls. Ulcers
cause the tough, healthy leather, of. appear and cat away the digestive
your fingers, for instance, to break •*,-act under nervous controls gone

down, and crumble away. Any hr.yvvire. Maybe if we just knew


force which can produce so def- spmetftng about how the mental
inite a physical effect can, it cer .
forces work, what nervous impulses
tainly seems, be detected and meas- ar<», we could explain those spon-

ured by physical apparatus. You '


taneous —
cancer cures and make
may. doubt that actual destruction of them routine psychomedical ther-
tough skin tissue by simply willing apeutic measures. If an effort of
it so is possible; to the best of my will can destroy healthy tissue, it
knowledge, no one has demon- seems as though it could starve
strated it by conscious determina- cancer into submission.
tion to show the effect. But every They are beginning to make starts
dermatologist is acquainted with toward reducing mental science to
neurodermatitis. —
a physical science but in an in-
Ulcers are a sort of nervous dis- verse way. The first attacks on

ease by an effort of will, even if schizophrenic conditions by insu-

SCIENCB TO COME

lin-shock therapy, followed by met- mental condition was brought -on
razol-shock and other chemical by an emotional shock three weeks
methods were physical-science at- ago, the technician can, by proper
tacks on a mental condition. They adjustment of his equipment’s con-
consisted, essentially, of systems trols, apply a sort of time-machine
that starved the brain of one or an- effect. The whole of the last three
other of the essential fuel compo- weeks is “aged” six months or so;

nents either sugar (insulin-shock) the patient regains consciousness
or oxygen (most of the other chemi- with the mental perspective that
cal-shock methods.) six months would normally give.
More recently, both were dropped The adjustment can pick out, fairly
in favor of electric-shock methods. well, the length of time —memories
The chemical-shock attack was that need to be aged. If the emo-
brutally violent, only barely com- tional shock occurred two weeks
patible with continued life, and so ago, or four weeks, different ad-
dreaded by the patient that they justments cover those periods.
constituted a mental hazard in The mind, whatever it may he,
themselves. The electric-shock sys- operates through the medium of,
tem as originally introduced elimi- or is built up of —
one or the other
nated the mental hazard, since, at a purely physico-clectro-chcmical
the instant of application of the mechanism known as the brain.
current, the patient was made un- Since chemical and electrical manip-
conscious; the electric current, at ulation of that physical mechanism
186,000 miles per second, shocked affects the mind, it seems that the
the brain centers into unconscious- converse should be true. Physical
ness before any slow nerve impulses equipment, operating on electro-
arrived. But, though much milder chemical laws, should be able to
than the other methods, the psy- find out something useful about the
chiatric technician was apt to refer bfain-mind system.
to the patient having “a good £on- I'm fairly well convinced that
vulsion —
he reacted well.” . The thti race is fairly indestructible, and
early electric-shock techniques .did will survive any next war. But our
not kill but legs and arms
patients, present culture is finished.
'
broken by the violence of muscular Either it will learn something
convulsions, did suffer. But, too, about how men live and think and
the mental conditions improved react, so it can f)e discarded' in
immensely. favor of a cultural system that can
It was a shotgun technique, purely prevent warfare, or the next gross
pragmatic. It's been refined a lot failure on its part will produce
—now there is, in the best modem a war in which the ancient cry
techniques, no convulsion whatever, of “Wolf! Wolf!” will not be a
and, far from being a shotgun, it false alarm —they really will have
isacquiring almost the accuracy of the weapon that can’t be stopped.
placement of a rifle. If the patient’s The Editor.

ASTOUNDING SCIENCE-FICTION
World of A
by A. E. VAN VOGT
The tale of a great adventure , in
an Earth remolded by the Games
Machine a philosophy
, —and a ter-

rible struggle of colossal forces


working secretly from beyond the
limits of Man's knowledge. And —
this is one of the truly great
stories of science-fiction!

Illustrated by Orban

I. mental habits which shall be in such


“Common sense, do what it will, close accord with the habits of the
cannot avoid being surprised occa- world as to secure that nothing shall
sionally. The object of science is be unexpected.”
to spare it this emotion and create B. R.

WORLD OP a 1
"... The occupants of each floor position for those who were par-
of the hotel must, as usual during tially successful, and the trip to
the games, form their own protec- Venus for the special group that
tive groups . .
.” won top honors.
For years and years he had
Gosscyn stared somberly out of wanted to come, but it had taken her
the window of his hotel room. From death to make it possible. Every-
its thirty-story vantage point, he thing, Gosseyn thought bleakly, had
could see the city of the Machine its price. In all his dreams of this
sprawled below him. It had no day, he had never suspected that
definable sliape. His gaze reached she would not be there beside him.
towards the hazy periphery, and it competing herself for the great
was impossible to pick out even the prizes.
beginning of a design.
In those days, when they had
There was a bank of river far to planned and studied together, it was
the right the river itself seemed but
;
power and position that had at-
a thread of misty silver. To the
tracted all their hopes. The going
a blue-black sea expanded to-
left,
to Venus part they had neither of
wards the horizon. Straight ahead,
them been able to imagine, nor had
and on every side, were buildings, they considered it.
and more buildings, and more and
Now, for him alone, the power
more and more buildings.
and wealth meant nothing. Itwas
They glittered in the setting sun.
the remoteness, the unthinkableness,
Color flashed from them to his eyes
the mystery of Venus, with it*
in a myriad of combinations. The
promise of forgetfulness, that at-
city glowed and shone and blazed
with a dazzling beauty, beyond all
tracted his whole being. He felt
himself aloof from the worldiness
words. And the most unspeakably
/of Earth. In a completely un-
enthralling of all the individual parts
religious sense, he longed for spir-
of that enormous whole was tbn,
itual surcease.
Machine. .,

The Machine was a scintiftatmg/ 'A knock on the door ended the
silvery shaft, rearing into the sk>| unconcentrated thought, and nar-
nearly five miles away. Its gardens rowed his gaze. Instinctively, Gos-
and its many subsidiary buildings seyn’s fingers closed on the element
were hidden in the mist of distance. in his belt. He considered * the
The sight of it was immensely situation for a moment, then manip-
bracing. In spite of himself, in ulated the device to create a defen-
spite of dark mood, Gosseyn
his sive screen six inches in front of
felt the wonder of that marvelous him, from his face down to his
mechanism. Here he was, here, knees.
actually here at long Jast, to partic- The protection would be no good
ipate in the games of the Machine. against a club or a solid bullet, but
The games which meant wealth and it would interfere with the energy

A8TOCNDING SCIENCE-FICTION
output of any small radiating He handed the boy a quarter, and
weapon. waved him off.
He opened the door. And looked He closed the door, fastened the
at the boy who stood there. The three plasto-windows and put a
boy said: tracer on his videophone. Then,
“Fve been sent, sir, to tell you carefully locking the door behind
that all the rest of the roomers on him, he went out into, and along,
this floor are in the sitting room.” the hall. As he entered the sitting
Gosseyn felt blank. “So what?* 1 room, he noticed that a man from
he asked: his own town, a store proprietor
“They’re discussing the protec- named Nordegg, was standing near
tion of the people on this floor, sir, the door. Gosseyn nodded, and
during the games.” smiled a greeting.
“Oh!” said Gosseyn. The man glanced at him curi-
He was shocked, then astounded ously, but did not return cither the
that he had forgotten. The earlier nod or the smile.
announcement coming over the hotel Briefly, that seemed odd.
communicators about such protec- The unusualness of it faded from
tion had intrigued him, thrilled him. Gosseyn’s mind, as he saw that
Until the announcement it had others of the large group present
seemed hard to believe that the were looking at him.
world’s greatest city would be en-
tirely without police or court protec- Bright friendly eyes, curious
tion during the period of the games. friendly faces with just a hint of
In outlying cities, in all other towns, calculation in —
them that was the
villages and communities, the con- impression Gosseyn had.
tinuity of law went on. He suppressed a cynical smile.
After all the calculation was so very
Here in the city of the Machine,
understandable. Everybody was
for a solid month there would be no
sizing up everybody else, striving to
law except the negative defensive
determine what chance their neigh-
law of the groups.
bors had of winning in the games.
And lie had almost missed his
tie saw that an old man at a desk
first cue in that intricate pattern of
beside the door was beckoning him.
protection by which groups took Gosseyn walked over. The man
care of themselves.
said:
“They asked me to tell you,” the “I’ve got to have your name and
boy was saying, “that those who such for our book here.”
don’t come are not protected in any “Gosseyn,” said Gosseyn. “Gil-
way during the period of the bert Gosseyn, Cress Village, Cali-
games.” fornia, age thirty-four, height six
“I shall be right there,” smiled feet one inch, weight one hundred
Gosseyn. “Tell them I’m a new- eighty-five, no special disinguishing
comer and forgot. And thank you.” marks.”
WORLD OP A
The oldster smiled up at him, his information he or she gave to the
eyes twinkling. doorkeeper. But before we begin
“That's what you think,” he said. with that, if you have any doubts
“If your mind matches your ap- about the legitimacy of anybody’s
pearance, you'll go far in the presence, please state them now.
games.” “You have the right to challenge
He finished : “I notice you didn't anybody here present. Please voice
say you were married.” any suspicions you have, even
Gosseyn hesitated, thinking tense- though you possess no specific evi-
ly of a dead woman. “No,” he said dence. Remember, however, that the
finally, quietly, “not married.” group meets every week, and that
“Well, you’re a smart-looking challenges can be made at each
man. May the games prove you meeting. But now, any challenges.”
worthy of Venus, Mr. Gosseyn.” “Yes,” said a voice behind Gos-
“Thanks,” said Gosseyn. - seyn. “I challenge the presence
As he turned to walk away, here of a man calling himself Gil-
Nordegg, the other man from Cress bert Gosseyn.”
Village, brushed past him, and bent “Eh !” said Gosseyn. He whirled
over the ledger on the desk. When and stared incredulously at Nor-
Gosseyn looked back a minute later, degg.
Nordegg was talking animatedly to The man looked at him steadily,
the old man, who seemed to be then his gaze went out to the small
protesting. sea of faces beyond Gosseyn. He
The episode departed temporarily said:
from Gosseyn’s mind, as a small, “When Gosseyn first came in, he
jolly-looking man walked to an open nodded to me as if he knew me, and
part of the floor, and held up his so I went over to the book to find
hand. out his name, thinking it might re-
“Ladies and gentlemen,” he be- call him to me. To my amazement
gan, “I would say that we should I heard him give his address as
now begin our discussions. Every- Cress Village, California, which is
body interested in group protection where I come from. Cress Village,
has had ample time to come here. ladies and gentlemen, is a rather
And therefore as soon as the chal- famous little place, but it only has
lenging period is over, I will move a population of three hundred. I
that the doors be locked, and we own one of the three stores; and I
start. know everybody, absolutely every-
“For the benefit,” he went on, body in the village, and in the sur-
“of those new to the games who rounding countryside.
do not know what I mean by chal- “There is no person residing in
lenging period, I will explain the or near Cress Village by the name
procedure. As you know every- of Gilbert Gosseyn.”
body here present will be required For Gosseyn, the first tremendous
to repeat into the lie detector the shock had come and gone while
10 ASTOUNDING SCIENCE-FICTION
: ” :;

Nordegg was still speaking. The all have heard about if it had ever
came was that he
after-feeling that taken place. And as for her being
was being made ridiculous in some the late Patricia Hardie, or Patricia
obscure way. The larger accusation —
Gosseyn, well” he smiled fero-

seemed otherwise quite meaningless. ciously “all I can say is, I saw her

He “This all seems very yesterday morning, and she was


silly,
said :

Mr. Nordegg ” He paused, — very, very much alive, and looking


struck by a mighty thought “That — extremely proud and beautiful on
is your name, is it not ?” her favorite horse, a white Ara-
“That's right,” Nordegg nodded, bian.”
“though Fin wondering how you
found it out.” It wasn’t ridiculous any more.
“Your Cress Village,”
store in
None of this fitted; none! Patricia

Gosseyn persisted, “stands at the didn’t own a horse, white or colored.


end of a row of nine houses, where They had been poor, working their
four roads come together.” small fruit farm in the daytime,
studying at night. Nor was Cress
“There is no doubt,” said Nor-
Village world-famous as the coun-
degg, “that you have been through
Cress Village either personally or
try home of the Hardies. The
by means of a photograph.”
Hardies were nobodies who the —
devil were they supposed to be ?
The man’s smugness abruptly
The question flashed by. And
irritated Gosseyn. Damn his miser-
was gone, succeeded by a greater
able hide, what was he trying to
pull off? With an effort, Gosseyn
thought, a purpose. A purpose that
had nothing to do with the people
fought that; leaping anger. He said
in the room, though it grew out
“About a mile westward from
of Nordegg’s words.
your store is a rather curiously
It was so important, so vital, that
shaped house.”
Gosseyn ’s brain retreated abruptly
“House he calls it!” said Nor- from the very idea of argument
degg. “The world-famous Cali- with a simple clarity he saw only
fornia home of the Hardie family.” the means that would end the dead-
“Har.die,” said Gosseyn, “was lock, and enable him to carry out
the maiden name of my late wife. the all-compelling purpose inside
She died about a month ago. him. He spoke the necessary words
Patricia Hardie. Does that strike “I can only suggest that the lie
any. chord in your memory?” detector will readily verify my
He saw that Nordegg was grin- statements.”
ning gleefully at the intent faces But the lie detector said: “Ne.
surrounding them. you are not Gilbert Gosseyn nor ;

“Well, ladies and gentlemen, you have you ever been a resident of
can judge for yourselves. He says Cress Village, California. You
that Patricia Hardie was his wife. are

That's a marriage I think we would It stopped. The dozens of tiny
WORLD OF A * u
: : ”

electronic tabes in it flickered un- I speak to her personally. Please


« certainly. connect me at once.”
"Yes, yes,” urged the pudgy He must have sounded, or looked,
man. “Who is he?” or acted authoritative; there must

There was a long pause ; then have been something about him.
The young woman said hesitantly :

"No knowledge about that is


“I’m not supposed to do this, but
available in his conscious mind,”
you can reach Miss Hardie at the
said the detector. “There is an aura
palace of the Machine.”
of unique strength about him. But
he himself seems to be unaware of
Gosseyn said explosively: “She's
!”
here, in the great city
his true identity. Under the cir-
cumstances, no identification is pos- He was not aware of hanging up.
sible."
But suddenly the woman's face was
gone; the video was dark. He was
“Under the circumstances,” said
alone with his realizations:
the pudgy man with finality, “I can
Patricia was alive!
only suggest an early visit to a
psychiatrist, Mr. Gosseyn. Cer- He had known of course. His
brain, educated in accepting things
tainly, you cannot remain here.”
as they were, had already adjusted
A minute later, Gosseyn was out
to the fact that a lie detector didn’t
in The thought, the
the corridor.
lie.
purpose seemed now made of caked
Sitting there, he felt strangely
ice; it lay on his brain, a cold
weight. He had to get that freez-
satiated with information. No im-

ing, deadly thing out of him.


pulse came to call the palace, and
talk to her, see her. Tomorrow of
Hereached his room, and put
course he would have to go there;
through the call on the videophone.
but that seemed far away in space-
It took about two minutes to make
time. He grew aware that someone
the connection with Cress Village,
was knocking loudly at his door.
California.
He opened it, and stared at four
^
A strange woman’s face came on men, the foremost of whom, a be-
to the plate. It was a rather severe
spectacled young man, said
face, but distinctive and young, even
“I am the assistant to the man-
good-looking.
ager, in charge of this section of
*
“I'm Miss Treechers, Miss Pa- the hotel. We’ll check your bag-
trica Hardie's California secretary. gage downstairs, but during the
What is it you wish to kpeak to Miss policeless month, we dare not take
Hardic about ?” any chances with individuals, so

For a moment the existence of It took about twenty minutes for
such a person as Miss Treechers Gosseyn to be ejected from the
was staggering. Then: multistoried hotel. Night was fall-
“It’s private,” said Gosseyn, re- ing, as he walked slowly along an
covering. “And it's important that almost deserted street.

12 A8TOUNDINO SCIKNCE-FICTION
: !

II. The fulness of the light only served


to emphasize the absence of man
"The negative judgment is the from his special creation, the
peak of mentality.” megalopolitan city.
A. N. W. It was suddenly immensely de-
pressing.
It was too early as yet for grave He stopped short there in the
danger. The night, though already deserted street. “I must free my-
arrived, was but beginning. The self,” he said aloud, intently, "from
prowlers and the gangs, the mur- the delusions of my mind, from the
derers and the thieves, and the false memory and the conviction I
scores of unclean human creatures have of my identity.”
who would soon emerge from their He was apparently suffering from
myriad shelters, were still hidden semi-amnesia, and he must try to
in the oblivion of a vast city. comprehend that in the largest sense
Gosseyn came to a sign that of meaning. Only that way would
flashed on and off, repeating tantal- freedom come.
izingly He attempted to visualize the
freeing as an event in the null-A in-
Rooms for the Unprotected terpretation. But the reality would
$20 a Night not rise above the verbal level.
"One fact I have,” he told him-
They didn’t want much, he re- self. "I am not Gilbert Gosseyn,
flected grimly. At that rate, the though I shall continue to use the
three hundred dollars he possessed name until I find what my real
wouldn’t carry him more than ten name is.”
days, counting in food and costs The conscious use of negation,
connected with the games. that important mind-training sys-
Besides, there were ugly stories tem, made him feel better. And
connected with such places. suggested a new though un-negative
He walked on. It was a bright, approach to his problem:
almost a dazzling night. As the Perhaps if he tried to picture the
planetary darkness deepened, more event that was himself, as he was,
and more atomic-powered lights semi-amnesia and all, he might
flashed on iritheir automatic fash- attain to the objective level.
ion. The world of the city of the It worked.
Machine glowed and’ sparkled with The results were almost stupen-
an incandescent glory. For miles dous. Like water draining from an
and miles, he could see the two lines overturned basin, the doubts and
of street lamps like shining senti- fears spilled out of him. The
nels striding in geometric progres- weight of false grief, false because
sion towards a distant blaze point it had so obviously been imposed

of illusory meeting. upon his mind for somebody else’s


Spiritually empty brightness purpose, lifted.

WORLD Of A 13
,

He was free. The swiftness of the happening


It was strangely intoxicating. did not prevent precautions.
He looked around with new, With his left arm, Gosseyn
brighter vision. Long lines of snatched at the young woman. He
glowing shop windows faced him caught her body just below the
on either side of the street. Just shoulders, imprisoning both of her
like that, they enticed him. Sud- arms in a vicelike grip. With his
denly, what they offered was im- right hand, he drew his gun.
portant and attractive. The bril- All in an instant. There followed
liant displays of goods, the luxuries a longer moment while he fought
of life here shown in their most to recover from the imbalance her
explicit form, mattered again. speed and weight had imposed on
They were incentives to life. them both.
Once more, he had something to He succeeded. He straightened.
work for, and to desire with all his He half-carried, half-dragged her
possession-starved heart. into the shadowed archway of a
There remained, of course, the door.
semi-amnesic disaster that had be- As he reached its shelter, the girl
fallen his mind, and the absolute began to wriggle and to moan softly.
necessity of doing something about With a jerk Gosseyn brought his
it. gun hand up, and put it, gun and
Not now With an effort of will,
! all, over her mouth.

he blurred that stirring of purpose. “Sssshh 1" he whispered, “I’m


Strongly came the realization that not going to hurt you.”
tonight the things outside his skin She ceased wriggling she ;

counted, not retrospection and in- stopped her whimpering. He al-


trospection about what had hap- lowed her to free her mouth. She
pened. said breathlessly:
Above all else, he must cling to “They were right behind me.
life until morning. Two men. They must have seen
Instinctively, he started forward you, and run off.”
again. As he walked, his gaze Gosseyn considered that. Like
darted from side to side, seeking to allthe happenings in space-time,
penetrate the shadows of doorways. thisone was packed with unseen
Street corners he approached with and unseeable factors. A young
the gingerliness of extreme alert- woman, different from all the otjier
ness. His defensive screen was young women in the universe, had
full on; and he kept his hand on come running in terror from a side
his gun. street.
In spite of his caution, he did Her terror was either real, or it
not see the girl who came racing was assumed.
from a side street until an instant Gosseyn’s mind, semantically
before she banged into him with a trained, skipped the harmless possi-
violence that unbalanced them both. bility, fastened upon the probability

14 ASTOUNDING SCIENCE-FICTION
that her appearance was a trick. He earnestly, “don’t be afraid of me.
pictured a small group waiting I’m in a mess, too, but I’m honest.
around the corner, anxious to share So far as I am concerned, we’re in
in the spoils of a policeless city, yet the same predicament ; and our only
not willing to take the risk of a purpose right now is to find a place
direct assault. where we can., spend the night.”
He felt coldly and unsympatheti- She made a sound; almost it
cally suspicious. Because if she seemed like a muffled laugh, but
was harmless, what was she doing when Gosseyn whirled on her, her
out alone on such a night? face was averted from the nearest
He muttered the question, sav- and he couldn’t be sure.
street light,
agely. She turned a moment later to
“I'm unprotected,” came the face him; and he had his first real
husky answer. “I lost my job last look at her. She was young, with
week because I wouldn’t go out with thin but heavily tanned cheeks. Her
the boss. And I had no savings. eyes were dark pools, her lips
My landlady put me out this morn- parted. She wore make-up, but it
ing when I couldn’t pay my rent.” wasn’t a good job, and added noth-
Gosseyn said nothing. Her ex- ing to her beauty.
planation was so feeble that he She didn’t look as if she had
couldn’t have spoken without mak- laughed at anything or anybody for
ing an effort out of it. a long, long time.
After a moment, he wasn’t so Gosseyn’s sharp suspicion faded.
sure. His own story wouldn’t sound But he was acutely aware that he
any too plausible, if he should ever was back where he had started,
make the mistake of putting it into protector of a girl whose individual-
words. ity had not yet shown itself in any
Before committing himself to the tangible form.
possibility that she was telling the The vacant lot, when they came
truth, he tried one question: opposite it, made Gosseyn pause
'There’s absolutely no place you thoughtfully. It was dark, and there
can go?” was brush scattered over it. It was
“None,” she said; and that was an ideal hiding place for marauders
that. She was his charge for the of the night. But, looked at from
duration of the games. another angle, it was also a possible
He led her unresisting out onto shelter for an honest man and his
the sidewalk, and, carefully avoid- protege. Provided they could ap-
ing the corner, onto the road. proach it without being seen.
“We’ll walk in the center of the He noticed after a brief intent
road,” he said. “That way we can survey that there was a back alley
watch the corners better.” leading to the rear of the vacant lot,
The road had its own dangers, and a space between two stores
but he decided not to mention them. through which they could get to
“Now, look,” Gosseyn went on the alley.

WORLD OP a 10
:

It took ten minutes to locate a and all those first minutes tliat he
satisfactory patch of grass under a watched her, she didn’t move per-
heavily hanging shrub. ceptibly. Studying the shadow
“We’ll sleep here," Gosseyn whis- shape of her, Gosseyn grew increas-
pered. ingly conscious of the unknown fac-
She sank down. And it was the tor she represented. She was, he
wordlessness of her acquiescence thought with a sudden sardonicism,
that brought the sudden realization at least as unknown as he himself.
that she had come with him awfully His speculation ended, as the
easily. young woman said in a sotto voce:
He lay thoughtful, eyes narrowed, “My name is Teresa Clark.
pondering the possible dangers. What's yours?”
What indeed? Gosseyn won-
There was no moon; and the dered. Before he could speak, the
darkness under the overhanging girl added
shrub was intense. After a while, “Are you here for the games?”
a long while, Gosseyn could see “That’s right,” said Gosseyn.
the shadowlike figure of her in a He hesitated, smiling bleakly. It

splotch of dim light reflections from was he who ought to be asking the
a distant street lamp. questions. He had to find out more
She was above five feet from him, about her. And find it out now.

!• ASTOUNDING SCIENCE-FICTION
: ! —
"And you?” he said. "Are you satisfied with the presidency.”
here for the games, too?” The girl laughed softly, a curious
It took a moment to realize that resonant gurgling laugh. "You’ll
he had propounded a leading ques- have to go some,” she said, "to beat
tion. Her answer was bitter- the Hardie gang.”
voiced : Gosseyn sat up jerkily. "To beat
"Don’t be funny. I don’t even whom?” he said.
know what this A with the bar over "Why, Michael Hardie, president
it stands for.” of Earth.”
Gosseyn was silent. There was a Slowly, Gosseyn sank back to the
humility here that embarrassed him. ground. He lay there, his brain
The girl’s personality was suddenly whirling. So that was what Nor-
clearer: a twisted ego that, beyond degg and others at the hotel had
all doubt, would shortly show itself meant. His story must have
to be perfectly satisfied with itself. sounded like the ravings of a
A car raced past on the nearby lunatic. President Hardie, Patricia
street, ending the need for com- Hardie, a palatial summer home at
ment. It was followed rapidly by —
Cress Village and every bit of
four more. The night was briefly information in bis brain about that
alive with the thrum of tires on absolutely untrue.
pavement. The sound faded. But Who had planted it there? The
vague echoes remained, distant Hardies
throbbing noises which must have "Could you,” came Teresa Clark’s
been there all the time, but which voice, slowly, "teach me how to win
only now that their attention had some minor job through the
been aroused, became apparent. games ?”
The young woman’s voice in- "What’s that!” In the darkness,
truded softly; she did have a nice Gosseyn stared at her.
voice, though there was a plaintive His first astonishment yielded to
note in it of self-pity that was not a kindlier impulse.
pleasant “I don’t see how it could be
"What is all this games stuff any- done,” he said. "The games re-
way? In a kind of a way, it*s easy quire knowledge and skill integrated
enough to see what happens to win- over a long period. During the last
ners who stay on Earth. They get fifteen days, they require such flexi-
all the juicy jobs; they become bility of understanding that only the
judges, governors and such. But keenest and most highly developed
what about the thousands who every brains in the world can hope to
year win the right to go to Venus? compete.”
What do they do when they get "I’m not interested in the last
there ?” fifteen days. If you reach the
"If I knew that,” said Gosseyn, seventh day, you get a job, is that
"I might be more anxious to make right ?”
the trip. As it is, I think I’ll be It was right but

WORLD OF A IT
: :

“The lowest job competed for in some fantastic plan, that had begun
the games," Gosseyn explained with the attack on his memory. It
gently, “pays ten thousand a year. was relieving to have her off his
The competition, I understand, is hands.
slightly terrific.” A familiar face detached itself
“I'm pretty quick,” said Teresa from the flickering human coun-
Clark. “And I’m desperate. That tenances that had been flashing past
should help.” him. The body supporting the face
Gosseyn doubted it, but he felt and head was encumbered by two
sorry for her. paper bags.
“We can talk it over in the morn- “I’ve brought some breakfast,”
ing,” he said. said Teresa Clark cheerfully, as she
He was suddenly weary. He lay came up. “I thought you’d prefer
back ;
his last thought before sleep to picnic out among the ants, rather
came was a wonder as to what the than try to get into a packed restau-
lie detector had meant when it said rant.”
“There is an aura of unique They ate in an almost complete
strength about him.” mutual silence. Gosseyn noted that
That at least was pleasant to the food she had brought had been
think about. daintily put up in boxes and plasto
He thought about it. containers for outside service.
When he wakened, the sun was There was reinforced orange juice,
shining. Of Teresa Clark, there a cereal with cream in a separate
was no sign. plasto, hot kidneys on toast, and
coffee, also with its separate cream.
Gosseyn verified her absence by Two dollars, he estimated, mini-
a quick search through the brush. mum. Which was pure luxury for
Then he walked to the sidewalk a a couple who still had thirty days
hundred feet away, and glanced of surviving to do on a small amount
along the street, first north, then of money.
south. And wait a minute! A girl who
The
sidewalks and the road were possessed two dollars would have
alive with human and mechanical paid part of it to her landlady for
traffic. Men and women, gaily another night’s lodging. Further-
dressed, hurried along past where more, she must have had a good
Gosseyn stood. The sound of many job even to think in terms of such
voices and many machines made a a breakfast.
buzz and a roar and a hum. That brought a new thought.
It was suddenly exciting. To Gosseyn frowned over it a moment,
Gosseyn, there came exhilaration, then said
and. stronger now, the realization “This boss of yours, who made
that he was free. the passes at —
you what's his
Even the girl’s departure proved name ?”
that she was not the second step in “Huh!” said Teresa Clark. She
is ASTOUNDING SCIENCE FICTION
: ”

had finished her kidneys, and was tions, but if you’re really in earnest
searching in her purse. Now, she about this

looked up, startled. "You bet I am,” said the girl.
Her face cleared. "Oh, him!” She drew a cigarette case out of
she said. her purse. “Have a cigarette!”'

There was a distinct pause.


The cigarette case glittered in the
sun. Diamonds, emeralds and
"Yes,” Gosseyn urged. "What’s
rubies sparkled from its intricately
his name ?” wrought gold surface. A cigarette,
She was completely recovered. already lighted in some automatic
"I'd prefer to forget about him,” fashion inside the case, protruded
said Teresa Clark. "It’s not pleas-
from its projector.
ant." The gems could have been plastic,
She changed the subject. "Will the gold imitation.But there was a
I have to know much for the first hand-made look about the thing, and
day?” a genuineness that was staggering.
Gosseyn hesitated, half inclined Gosseyn, a little wildly, estimated
to pursue further the subject of her its value at twenty-five thousand
boss. He decided not to. He said dollars.

"No. Fortunately, the first day He found his voice. "No,


has never been more than a per- thanks,” he said; "I don’t smoke.”
"It’s a special brand,” said the
functory affair. It consists pri-
marily of registrations, and in being young woman insistently. “Made
assigned to the cubbyhole where you in California, deliciously mild.”

take your early tests. Gosseyn shook his head. And


this time she accepted the refusal.
"I've studied the published rec-
She removed the cigarette from the
ords of the games of the last twenty
case, put it to her lips and inhaled
years, which is the farthest back the
with a deep satisfaction. Then
Machine’ll ever release; and I’ve
plunged the case back into her purse.
noticed that there is never any
She seemed unconscious of the
change in the first day. You are
sensation it had caused. She said:
required to define what the A, the
“Let's get busy with my studies.
N and the E
with the bar over them
Then we can separate, and meet
stand for.
here again tonight. O.K.?”
"Whether you realize it or not,
She was a very dominating young
you cannot have lived on earth woman; and Gosseyn wasn’t sure
without picking up some of the
that he could even learn to like her.
essence of A. It’s been a growing His suspicion, that she had come
part of our common mental environ- into his life with a purpose, was
ment for nearly three hundred stronger.
years.” She was possibly a connecting
ITe finished : "People, of course, linkbetwen himself and whoever
have a tendency to forget defini- had monkeyed with his brain. He

WORLD OF A 19
— ”

couldn’tlet her get away. witli a little laugh, started forward


“O.K.,” he said. "But there isn’t again.
any time to waste — His confidence grew. Surely, the
Machine wouldn’t judge him on
III. such a high abstraction as nominal
identity, when even the lie detector
"To be is to be related.” in the hotel had recognized that he
C. J. K. was not misrepresenting himself on
purpose.
Gosseyn helped the girl off the The crowds became more un-
surface car. They walked rapidly wieldy as they approached the base
around a screening nest of trees, of the Machine. And the bigness
through massive gates, and came of the Machine itself was more ap-
into sight of the Machine. parent every minute. Its roundness
The girl walked unconcernedly and its size gave it a sleek, stream-
on. But Gosseyn stopped. lined appearance that was not can-
The Machine was at the far end celed by the tiers of individual game
of a broad avenue, about half a mile rooms that ornamented and broke
away from the tree-sheltered gates.
up its gigantic base.
It reared up and up in a silver shin-
Right around the base, the rooms
ing metal splendor. It was a cone
extended. The whole first floor was
poking into the lower heavens, and
game rooms and corridors leading
crowned by a dazzling star of
to them. Broad outside staircases
atomic light, brighter than the
led to the second, third and fourth
noonday sun above.
floors and down into three base-
The sight, the near and marvelous
ments, a total of seven floors en-
magnificence shocked him. He tirely devoted to game rooms for
hadn’t thought of it before, but
individual competitors.
now
The Machine would never accept "Now that I’m here,” said Teresa
Clark, "I'm no longer so sure of
his false identity.
He felt a constriction, a fear like
myself. These people look darned
intelligent.”
fire. He stood there then, shaken
and depressed. He grew aware that Gosseyn could see what she
Teresa Clark had come back, and meant. The competitors were al-
was looking up at him. most all true leader-type men and
"This is your first time to see it women. In the old days they would
close !” she said sympathetically have been either introverts or ex-
"It does get you, doesn’t it?” troverts, the introverts mostly wage
There was a hint of superiority in slaves; the extroverts, business ex-
her manner that brought a wan ecutives, club presidents, army gen-
smile to Gosseyn’s lips. These city erals or demagogues.
slickers! lie thought sardonically. Now, their brains trained never
He felt better, and, taking her arm to level off into infantile positivities,

20 ASTOUNDING SCIENCE-FICTION
: . :

they had come to try for the great The man thought it was neces-
prizes of the games.
%
sary. and said so
Most of them would be winners. “The very terrifying aspects of
Aloof and impregnable, the Ma- itillustrate vividly what a paradise
chine towered above the humans it Venus must be, where no police arc
was about to sort according to their necessary, though there arc detec-
talents. No one now living knew tives for special purposes.
exactly in what part of its structure “Just think,” he went on enthusi-
its electron-magnetic brain was astically,“when we become worthy
located. of Venus, we go to a planet where
J .ike many men
before him, Gos- everybody is sane. There are no
seyn speculated about that. “Where thieves, no murderers, no schemers.
would I have put it?” he wondered, The policeless period here provides
“if I had been one of the scientist- us with a yearly measuring rod as
architects?” to how swiftly Earth people are
matter of course. The
It didn't progressing. At one time, it was a
Machine was already older than any nightmare; but I’ve noticed a
known living human being. Self- change even in my lifetime.
renewing, conscious of its life and “Oh, yes, the policelcss period
of its purpose, it remained greater is necessary.”
than any individual, immune to Gosseyn realized it was time he
bribery and corruption, and theoreti- said something to the girl, some-
cally capable of preventing its own thing encouraging. He said
destruction. “At least you won’t have to
“Juggernaut!” emotional men worry about today. And if you’re
had screamed when it was being as quick in future at picking up
built. facts, well —
who knows!”
“No,” said the builders, “not a He knew. There was no room
destroyer, but an immobile me- for amateurs in the games of the
chanical brain with creative func- Machine.
tions, and a capacity to add to itself A good possibility existed, of
in certainsane directions.” course, that she was not an ama-
In three hundred years, people teur. But he couldn’t be sure of
had come to accept its decisions as that yet.
towho should rule them. “I guess here’s where wc sepa-
rate,” said Teresa Clark. “The C’s
Gosseyn was briefly aware of a are down on the second basement,
conversation between a man and a the G’s just above them. Meet me
woman, who were walking along tonight at the vacant lot. O.K.?”
nearby “O.K.!”
“Frankly," the woman was say- Gosseyn waited until she was out
ing, “the policeless aspect of the of sight down a stairway that led
games is rather terrifying. I think to the second basement. Then he
it could be dispensed with.” followed. lie caught a brief

world or A 21
: :

glimpse of her as he reached the There was silence. Some of the


bottom of the She was
steps. cherry red tubes flickered un-
pushing her way towards an exit at steadily.* Then:
the end of a far corridor. “For the time being,” said the
He was halfway along the cor- Machine, “I shall accept that
ridor, when she vanished up a name.”
staircase that led outside. By the Gosseyn sank slowly into the
time Gosseyn pushed his way up chair, and crouched there. The
the stairs, she was nowhere to be skin around his hot and cold nerve
seen. ends warmed with excitement. He
Thoughtfully, he walked towards had the sudden conviction that he
hisown staircase. He felt sharply was on the verge of discovery. He
conscious that the problem of said
Teresa Clark was not all going to “You know my true name?”
be as simple as this discovery that There was another pause. Gos
she was not even considering taking seyn had time to think of a Ma-
the tests of the Machine. chine that was at this very second
He entered a vacant examination conducting tens of thousands of
booth in the G section. The door separate conversations with the in-
had barely clicked shut behind him dividuals in every cubbyhole in its
when a voice from a speaker said base. Then
matter-of-factly “Your name?”
: “There is no record in your con-
Gosseyn forgot Teresa Clark. scious mind of another name,” said
He stood funking an answer, con- the Machine tonelessly. “I suggest
scious that here was an immediate a visit to a psychiatrist. Ask him
and tremendous crisis. to take a photograph of your cortex
And now, are you ready for your
The booth contained a comfort- test ?”
able swivel chair, a desk with “B-but
—” Gosseyn protested.
drawers and a transparent paneling “Nofurther questions at this mo-
above the desk, behind which elec- ment, said the Machine
please,”
tron tubes gleamed in a variety of coldly. “Y&u will find writing
cherry red and flame yellow pat- materials in the top right-hand
terns. In the center of the panel, drawer of your desk. The ques
al^o made of transparent plastic, tions are printed on each sheet.
was an ordinary streamlined You have thirty minutes to answer
speaker. them. You wilt not be able to leave
It was from this speaker that your room till the thirty minutes
the voice of the Machine had come. have elapsed, regardless of the speed
now:
It repeated with which you complete your
“Your name? And please grasp paper. Good luck.”
the nodes.” The questions were as he had
"Gilbert Gosseyn,” said Gosseyn expected :
quietly. What is non-Aristotelianism?
ASTOUNDING SCIENCE FICTION
:

What is non-Newtonionism? to the correct answers, in highly


What is non-Euclidianism? flexible fashion, and recorded a
The questions were not really pass.
easy. The trick was not to attempt Similarly, with the answers of
a detailed reply, but to show con- the twenty-five thousand other con-
sciousness of the multiordinal testants, who would in a few min-
meaning of words, and of the fact utes be replaced by twenty-five
that every answer could only be an thousand more.
abstraction. “You wish to ask more questions,
Gosseyn wrote his answers in the Gilbert Gosseyn?” said the Ma-
spaces provided, then sat back, chine.
tingling with anticipation. Gosseyn jumped. He collected
The Machine had said : “No his thoughts automatically, made the
further questions at this moment.” semantic pause necessary to corti-
At what moment would it con- cal-thalamic integration, and said:
sider further questions? “Yes. I have had some ialse
Gosseyn waited. ideas planted in my mind. Were
At the end of twenty-five min- they put there with a purpose?”
utes. the voice came again “They were.”
“Please do not be too surprised “Who put them there ?”
at the simplicity of today’s tests. “No record of that exists in your
It is important to remember that the conscious brain.”
purpose of the games is not, as “Oh!” Gosseyn was silent,
might seem the case, judging from grim, disappointed. He added fi-

the final results, to beguile the great nally: “You can't help me much,
majority of the contestants into can you?”
losing. The purpose
nothing less is There was a curious sadness in
than the education of the human the reply: “I am only an immobile
race; and that purpose can only be brain, but dimly aware of what is
realized when everybody survives transpiring in remote parts of
the full thirty days of the games. Earth. What plans are brewing I
“And now, those who failed to- can only guess. But you are
day’s have already been in-
test involved in them as deeply and
formed. They
will not be accepted darkly as death itself.”
as contestants during the rest of It’s tone grew decisive: “Gilbert
this season’s games. To them I say Gosseyn, I give you fifteen days to
better luck next time. To the rest, solve your identity. At the end of
more than ninety-nine percent I am that time, you must either know who
happy to say, good luck for tomor- you are, or be barred from further
row.” participation in the games.
It was fast work. He had simply “The time limit has not been
slipped his paper into the slot pro- lightly fixed. Go now, to your
vided some variation of a television
; destiny.”
tube had scanned it, compared it There was a click from the door.
WORLD OP A S3
:

as it unlocked automatically. Gos- ter, Patricia, lived there.


seyn went out into the corridor, Patricia Hardie. Gosseyn was
hesitated for a moment; and then conscious of a distinct tug in his
worked his way northward through mind. He thought intently:
the hurrying crowds. If he was darkly and deeply
involved, then so must they be.
Gosseyn paused finally, and What had made them plant Into his
straightened, letting his shoulder mind the conviction that he was
muscles relax, and the great married to a dead Patricia ?
muscles in his back. It seemed futile. Any hotel
He stood like that, eyes half group lie detector would have found
closed, his mind in a state of slow him out, even if a Nordegg hadn’t
concentration that made physical been around to accuse him.
relaxation one of the important sys- He ought to go up, and seek an
tems for the maintenance of sanity. interview. With Hardie? With
He thought: Patricia?
“My situation is really ever so Somehow, he couldn’t quite pic-
much better.have two purposes,
I ture himself actually making the
first to go to a second
psychiatrist, attempt to get into the palace. Not
to find out who
I am. And the now, before he had been examined
Machine, with its almost omni- by a null-A psychologist.
potent perception, implies that I can Gosseyn turned, and strode
find out in fifteen days if I try around the base of the Machine,
hard.”
back towards the city proper. He
He began to feel better. He ate lunch in a small restaurant near
opened his eyes, and looked around
the waterfront, then began to thumb
him. He was standing on a paved through the yellow pages of a tele-
boulevard that led north.
phone directory. He knew the
To the north, starting at about
name he was looking for, and he
a quarter of a mile from the Ma- found It almost right away
chine, other buildings began. They
were geometrically arranged in Enright, David Lester, Dr., psychologist,
clustersaround the boulevard, at the 709 Medical Arts Building
far end of which amid embanked
flowers and trees stood the palace Enright had written several
of the Machine. books, which were prescribed read-
The palace was not tall its ;
ing for anyone who hoped to get
stately contours nestled in among beyond the tenth day in the games.
the vivid green and brilliance of It was a pleasure to remember
its verdant environment but that — the crystallike clarity of the man’s
wasn’t what held Gosseyn. writing, the careful semantic con-
His mind, was reaching, visualiz- sideration given to every multi-
ing, comprehending. ordinal word used, the breadth of
President Hardie and his daugh- intellect and understanding of the

24 ASTOUNDING SCIENCE-FICTION
:

human body-and-mind-as-a- whole. is Thursday at 2 p.m. You must


Gosseyn closed the directory, and however make a twenty-five dollar
went out to the street. He felt at deposit.”
ease; his nerves were calm. Hope Gosseyn paid the money, accepted
was surging in him. and went out. He was
his receipt
The very fact that he remembered disappointed, but not too much so.
Enriglit and his books in such detail Good doctors were bound to be busy
showed how lightly the intruding men in a world that was still far
semi-anmesia rested on his memory. from having attained n u 1 1 - A
It shouldn’t take long once the perfection.
famous man began to work oil him. On the street again, he watched
The reception clerk in the doctor’s the longest, most powerful car he
office said had ever seen slide pasthim, and
‘’Dr. Enright can be seen by ap- draw up at the curb a hundred feet
pointment only ... I can give you away.
an hour three days from now, that The car gleamed and shone in the

WORLD OF A 20
” :

afternoon sun. A liveried attend- It was possible, in spite of his


ant leaped smartly from beside the careful reconnoitering of the entire
driver, and opened a door. block, that he was already in a trap.
Teresa Clark stepped out. She But it was a risk he felt no hesita -

wore an afternoon dress of some tion in taking.


dark shining material. The ensem- in this girl, was the avail-
Here,
ble <lid not make hef appear less able concrete clue he had to the
slim, but the dark coloring of the mystery of himself.
dress made her face seem a little He watched her curiously, as well
fuller and, by contrast, not so as he could in the developing dark-
heavily tanned. ness.
Teresa Clark! The name was a She was sitting, at the beginning,
meaningless mockery in the face of with her left leg tucked under right
this magnificence. one. In the course of ten minutes,
“Who,” Gosseyn hissed fiercely she changed her position five times.
to a man who had stopped beside Twice during the shifts, she half
him, “is that?” stood up. In between, she spent
The stranger glanced at him in some time apparently tracing figures
surprise ; and then he spoke the on the grass with her finger. She
name Gosseyn had already half pulled out her cigarette case and put
guessed it away again without taking a
“Why, that's Patricia Hardie, cigarette.
daughter of President Hardie . . . She jerked her head half a dozen
quite a neurotic, I understand. times, as if in defiance of some
Look at that car, for instance, like thought. She shrugged her shoul-
an jewel, a sure sign ders twice, folded her arms and
of
—oversized shivered as with a chill, sighed audi-
Gosseyn was turning away, turn- bly three times, clicked her tongue
ing his face from the car and its impatiently, and for about one min-
recent occupant. No sense in being ute, one whole minute, she sat
recognized until lie had thought this tensely still.

through. She hadn’t been so nervous the


It seemed ridiculous that she night before. She hadn’t, except
would actually come again that very for the little period when she was
night to a dark lot to be alone with acting fearful of the men who were
a strange man. supposed to have been chasing her.
But she was there. seemed nervous at all.
It was the waiting, Gosseyn de-
Gosseyn stood in the shadows, cided. She was geared to meeting
staring thoughtfully at the shadow people, and to handling them.
figure of the girl. He had come to Alone, she had no resources of
the rendezvous very skillfully. Her patience.
back was to him, and she seemed What was it the man had said that
to be unaware of his presence. afternoon ? Neurotic ! There was
2« ASTOUNDING SCIENCE -FICTION
:

no doubt of it. As a child she must “You gave me a start,” she said.
have been denied that early null-A But her voice was calm and un-
training so necessary to the develop- startled, and properly sotto voce.
ment of certain intelligences. Most She had suave thalamic reactions,
people could pick up something of this girl.
training at any age, but some had The visualization of that started
to have childhood impregnation. his thoughts anew on the problem
Apparently, she was one of the of her, and on the events leading
latter. up to this moment
Just how training could have been Patricia Hardie DISGUISED. . .

neglected in the home of a superbly PTad RUN out to him. . .

integrated man such as President On a DESERTED street. . .

Hardie must be, was a puzzle. How had she KNOWN he would
Whatever the reason, she was one be there?
human being whose thalamus was Was he being FOLLOWED?
always in full control of her actions. Or did they have some device at-
Pie could imagine her having a tached to HIM that enabled them
nervous breakdown. to keep track of him no matter
The possibilities interested Gos- where he went?
seyn. At last, frowningly, he re- That was formulation number
jected the obvious solution. He was one. Two:-
not prepared to exploit the neural Had she driven up in the car that
weaknesses of women or men. afternoon KNOWING he would
It would be nice, in his situation, see her.
to have someone who was for you If so, she knew that HE knew
all the way, even against her own who she was.
family. But the means to bring Three If THAT was true, then
:

that about would also be criminal. there was no doubt. . .

Accordingly, love-making was out. They were trying to FORCE re-


Pie continued to watch her there actions from him.
in that almost darkness. Aften ten If he didn’t react they would
minutes, she stood up and stretched, DEDUCE his weakness and uncer-
then she sat down again. She took tainty.
off her shoes, and, rolling over to- If he did react, he would play
wards Gosseyn, lay down on the INTO their hands.
grass. He intended to react.
She saw Gosseyn.
“It’s all right,” Gosseyn assured He
sank down on the grass near
softly, “it's only me. I guess you her and let the feel of the night
;

heard me coming.” creep upon him.


He
guessed nothing of the kind, The second night Here was the !

but she had jerked to a sitting posi- second policeless night. It seemed
tion ; and it seemed the best way to hard to believe. He could hear the
soothe her. noises of the city, faint, unexciting,

world or a rr
. : —
quite unsuggestive. Where were Gosseyn hadn't thought of that.

% thcgangs and the thieves? They But now she mentioned it


seemed unreal, examined in absentia, “Why, yes,” he said. “Others
from the safety of this dark hiding can train -for it of course but
” —
place. A flame of excitement titillated
Perhaps the years and the great his nerves. He was conscious of a
educational system had winnowed sudden eagerness, a desire for the
their numbers, leaving only the fear- moment of the interview with Dr.
ful legend and a few trivial wretches Enright to arrive. How much he
who slunk through the night seek- might learn from such a man.
ing the helpless. Caution came at that point, fiash-
No, that couldn’t be right. Men ingly. Why had she asked that
were becoming more brave, not less, question, instead of commenting on
as their minds grew progressively his story as a whole ?
integrated with the structure of the In the dark he stared at her
universe around them. searchingly. But her face, her ex-
Somewhere violence was being pression, was night-wrapped.
planned or performed. Her voice came again
Somewhere? Perhaps here! “You mean, you haven’t the faint-
Gosseyn looked at the girl. Then who you are. How did you
est idea
very softly he began to talk. He get to the hotel in the first place?”
described his plight, the way he had Gosseyn laughed softly but bit-
been kicked out of the hotel, the terly and it was no act.
;

amnesia that hid his memory, the “I have a memory of taking a bus
curious delusion that he had been from Cress Village to the airport
married to Patricia Hardie. “And at Nolendia and then I distinctly
;

then,” he finished ruefully, “she remember being on the plane.”


turned out to be the daughter of “Did you have any meals aboard ?”
the president, and very much alive.” She seemed genuinely interested.
Her silence, after his voice ceased, And it was a good question.
was prolonged. Gosseyn had time Gosseyn took his time remember-
to think of the things he hadn’t told ing. It was an intensional world
her: the Machine giving him fifteen into which he strove to penetrate,
days to identify himself ;
his knowl- and as nonexistent as all such
edge of who she was. worlds. Memory never was the
Patricia Hardie said : “These psy- thing remembered, but at least ^ with
chologists, such as the one you’re go- most people, when there was a mem-
ing to — is it true that they’re all ory, there normally had been a fact
people who have won the trip to of similar structure.
Venus games, and have come
in the His mind held nothing that could
back Earth to practice their pro-
to be related to physical structure. He
fession? And that actually no one hadn’t eaten, definitely and unequiv-
else can go in for psychiatry and ocally.
the related sciences?” “There’s usually one meal on a

28 ASTOUNDING SCIENCE- FICT ION


transcontinental plane,” the girl per- Or were they a gang ?—
sisted. Aviolent forward jerk of the
Gosseyn didn’t ask her how she car ended temporarily his tensed
knew that. She could have picked thalamic speculation.
it up anywhere without ever being

on a plane from California. IV.


Besides, let them puzzle about
whether he was acting dumb or ac- “Science is nothing but good
tually dumb. Their tiny uncertainty sense and sound reasoning.”
could be a point in his favor. Stanislaus Leszcynski,
The girl was speaking: “You King of Poland, 1763
really haven't the faintest idea what
this is all about? You have no pur- As the car raced north along de-
pose, no plan of dealing with it? serted streets, Gosseyn forced him-
You’re just moving along in a great self to take stock of his situation.
dark?” There were two cars ahead of
Gosseyn said: "That’s right.” him, three behind. He could see
And waited. their black, moving shapes through
The silence was long. Too long. the windshield and in the rearview
And the answer, when it came, did mirror. Patricia Hardie was in one
not come from the girl. of them, but in spite of straining his
Somebody jumped on him, and eyes, Gosseyn couldn’t pick out
!”
held him down. He heard an “Eek which machine she was in.
from Patricia Hardie, and saw that Not that it mattered. There were
she, too, had a dark figure kneeling too many cars, too many captors.
on top of her. Escape was for the moment out of
Other figures swarmed out of the the question.
Irtish, and grabbed at Gosseyn. —
Besides Gosseyn smiled a tight,
He was on his feet, shoving at —
thoughtful smile the very total ot
the first man. A tight horror made cars and men, and the distance they
him fight even after a tangle of semed to have come for such ap-
strong hands held him beyond bis parently small game, suggested that
capacity to escape. the girl was among friends.
A man said: “I thought I saw He’d have to find that out for
thesetwo here this morning.” sure, of course, but the feeling that
Another chuckled “This is the
: itwas so lifted the sick pressure
kind of catch I like to make: No from his innards. He was on his
fuss.” own again; whatever danger there
He broke off: “O.K., just put was, was his.
’em in the cars, and let’s get.” It made him feel good by com-
As he was bundled back into the parison with his first hideous fear.
seat of a roomy sedan, Gosseyn The fear that he and a girl had
thought Had these people come in
: fallen into the hands of one of the
response to a signal from the girl? night gangs of the policeless period.

WORLD OP A.
: :

Alone,he had nothing, almost “You had better tell me very


literallynothing to lose except his quickly by what authority you have
l^fe. And the courage of all the arrested me, and where you are
men who had ever died, consciously taking me?”
facing danger, was like an indestruc- “Just keep quiet, and you’ll know
tible rock to fortify his null-A soul. soon enough,” the man on his right
A lifetime of education that was said gruffly.

not false to facts even though un- Detective! There was no ques-

remerabered in detail had prepared tion now. The man had accepted
him for this hour of uncertainty and his inference without the pause nec-
menace. essary to corticalthalamic integra-
He sat back more relaxed. But it tion.
cost an effort to bring his mind back He hadn’t thought about his an-
from its wanderings, and concen- swer.
trate it on the intricacies of his The fellow was stiffening as if a
predicament dim consciousness had come that
Six cars and eighteen men. Gos- he had given himself away.
seyn studied the four men in his car. “See here,” he snarled, “where
The driver was a heavy-set man, we’re taking you, there’ll be no non-
whose face, blurrily seen in the rear- sense about authority. How much
view mirror, showed intent and dough you’ve got is what will
square-built. The other man in the count.”
front seat sat twisted, facing back .It was still not convincing. He
towards Gosscyn. He had a black was still the detective trying to act
pistol in one hand, which he half- gangster, not the ganster reacting.
held, half-supported on the uphol- Gosseyn smiled mirthlessly, but
stering. he said nothing.
It was a reasonably intelligent- The picture was clarifying. The
looking face, but his gimlet eyes girl probably had had some tiny
and the complacent way he moved electronic signaling device, and she
hisjaw and protruded his lower lip, had used it to call the government
somehow indicated a very slight ac- agents. They, in turn, acting on
quaintance with the principles of some pre-planned strategy, were
general semantics. pretending to be gangsters capturing
The two men who sat on either both the girl and himself.
side of Gosseyn looked like intel- It looked as if they cared yriiat
ligent detective officers. That was he might think about the whole busi-
something he could sink his mental ness afterwards.
teeth into, make his first test of his It looked as if the girl was to be
conviction of what was here. left free of suspicion, to re-establish
Flashingly, Gosscyn estimated the contact with him afterwards.
level of abstraction on which these There was to be an afterwards.
men would be living IF they were Gosseyn drew a deep, shaky
what he thought. He said coldly breath. Just what he had been

so ASTOUNBING SCIENCE FICTION


:

afraid of, he couldn’t decide. But one of the forward machines. She
now, even if for the sake of ap- didn’t look in his direction. She
pearances they took his pocketbook, stood for an instant easily, as if in
he still had his luggage and two- thought then she walked off to-
;

thirds of his money in the security wards a distant door that opened be-
room of a respectable hotel. fore her touch. Momentarily it re-
And if the cash that he did have vealed a dazzlingly bright anteroom,
with him actually brought him then the door closed, and the lesser
knowledge, even one clue as to what brightness of the courtyard resumed
this was all about, it would be mi- drably.
crocosmic payment for macrocostnic A hawk-nosed man came over
gain. from another door, and looked in
He a desperate will to knowl-
felt at Gosseyn. He was a big man,
edge, a desperate conviction that bigger than Gosseyn. He said with
nothing mattered but that he know. an unmistakable sneer:
!”
He must know the truth about him- “So this is the superman
self. It seemed a futile insult. Gos-
A radio in the dashboard clattered seyn started to carry on with his
into life. A
mechanical voice said examination of the man’s physical
“Masterson, you can stop pre- characteristics ; and then the import
tending with the prisoner. Miss of the words penetrated :

Hardie tells me that there is no fur- The man knew who he was.
ther need for it. Don’t give him His brain rocked. A singing
any information. Just stop acting warmth tickled along his nerves.
as if you’re gangster. That’s all.” Something closely akin to fire
All? It was quite enough. Gos- poured into his brain, and burned
seyn had his shock. If they were away there like a blazing beacon.
dropping pretense, then he was not More intently, more concentrat-
going to be released. edly, he examined what the fellow
Before he could think about the had said.
potentialities of that, the cars made Superman! Gosseyn mustered a
a great curve, and swooped into a measure of sardonicism. That at
tunnel. Minute by minute they least didn’t have any structural rela-
raced forward through a dimly tion to the facts. Gilbert Gosseyn
lighted paved cavern. was a trained null-A whose brain
had been damaged by a semi-am-
After about five minutes, the tun- nesic calamity. He might prove
nel ahead grew lighter. Abruptly, worthy of Venus in the games, but
the cars emerged into a circular, he would simply be one of thou-
streamlined courtyard, and came to sands of similarly successful con-
a halt. tenders.
Men began to pile out of them. He had yet to show a single qual-
Gosseyn had a glimpse of the girl ityof structural difference between
climbing in a leisurely fashion from himself and other human beings.

WORLD OP A 31
: : ?

Therefore the hawk-nosed individ- man who has failed at the games.
ual was making- small talk designed Therefore you sneer at them. You
to irritate. poor fool 1”
Gosscyn studied the man curious- Surprisingly, the big man laughed-
ly.' The sneer on the other’s lips “Fm afraid you’re the fool if you
had relaxed a little. His expression haven’t wondered yet how a failure
was less cruel, his whole manner at the games —
and I freely admit I
not so animalistically formidable. failed —
could be here in this center
The fellow drawled: of man’s power over man in a posi-
“Ah, silence ! The null- A pause, tion of high authority. Think it

I suppose. Any moment now, your over.”


present predicament will have been Gosseyn thought. And felt the
integrated into control of your cor- color draining from his cheeks,
tex. And semantically clever words slowly.
will begin to sound forth.” “But that’s ridiculous,”he began.
Gosseyn had intended to speak. And stopped. There was a deadly
Now he closed his
astounded.lips, angle here.
After the moment, he was shocked. How much damage could people
Never before had he do who wanted to destroy a sys-
in his life
heard A sneered at. And by a man

tem if no one cared what they
were doing during the first eleven
who obviously knew something
about it. His mind made a time-
and three quarter hours out of —
binding leap backwards: This, he
twelve —of their plotting
The grim speculation was cut
thought, absorbed, was how reli-
short, as the crooked-nosed man
gious folk had felt in the old days
motioned him curtly
the first time an atheist or rationalist
“Come along,” he said. “You’ve
manifested verbal hostility towards
got some more shocks coming. My
their religion.
name, by the bye, is Thorson. Jim
No! He rejected the comparison
Thorson. I can tell you that with-
after a moment’s consideration. It out fear of it going any further,”
wasn’t like that of course. In those
Gosseyn made no comment. He
days of violent emotionalism, a thou- climbed out of the car, and fell in
sand years before, doubters received
behind Thorson. Aware of several
from the faithful. This
short shrift
men right behind him, he -followed
hawk-nosed doubter could shout his
the big man through an ornate door,
opposition from the housetops, and and into the palace of the Machine,
people would merely look at liim in
where President and Patricia Hardie
amusement.
lived.
It seemed to Gosseyn that it might
be a good thing for his own morale He began to think of the neces-
if he could feel some amusement sity of making a determined effort
right now. He said pityingly to escape. But not yet. Funny, to
“I can only assume that you’re a To know that
feel that so strongly.

32 ASTOUNDING SCIENCE-FICTION
: ;

(earning about himself was more equal any infinite value."


important than anything. The reference to infinity inter-
There was a long marble corridor ested Gosseyn, but lie said nothing.
that ended in an open oak door. In sizing up people, it wasn’t always
Thorson held the door for Gosseyn, wise to tell them they had revealed
a smile twisting his long face. Then a quality about themselves.
he came in, and closed it behind him, He glanced away from “X" over
shutting out the guards who had to the girl. Her gaze held his
been following Gosseyn. coolly, though a shade of height-
Three people were waiting in the ened color crept into her cheeks.
room : Patricia Hardie and two She had made a quick change into
men. Of the latter, one was a fine- another dress, a slick evening gown.
looking chap of forty-five or so who It gave a shine to her appearance
sat behind a desk. But it was the that Teresa Clark had never had.
second man who snatched Gosscyn’s When Gosseyn made no effort to
attention. withdraw his gaze, she said:
He had been in an accident. He "You were awfully stupid. We
was patched monstrosity. He had
a couldn't seem to make you suspi-
a plastic arm and a plastic leg. and cious of me."
his hack was in a plastic cage. His So her actions hadn’t been acci-
head looked as if it was made of dental, except perliaps some of
opaque glass ;
it was earless. Two them. Gosseyn smiled to himself
human eyes peered from under a with a stiff amusement. Noninte-
glass-smooth dome of surgical grated people couldn’t help but be
plastic. unaware of their weaknesses.
He had been lucky in a limited He decided to say nothing. What-
fashion. From his eyes down, the ever she or they might think, the
lower part of his face was intact. girl was a weak spot in the chain
He had a face. His nose, mouth, they were forging around him.
chin and neck were human. Beyond It was curiously hard to turn his
that, his resemblance to anything attention to the other man. Even to
normal depended partly upon the his trained brain, the reorientation
mental concessions of the observer. necessary to acceptance of President
For the moment, Gosseyn was not Hardie of Earth as a plotter, was
prepared to make any concessions. a hurdle too big for easy surmount-
He had decided on a course of re- ing.
action. a level of abstraction: bold- But in the end there could be no
ness. He said shrinking from the identification.
“What the devil is that?" The man’s resemblance to Patricia
The creature chuckled in a bass Hardie was unmistakable.
amusement. His voice, when he He had the hard eyes of the dis
spoke, was deep as a viol’s G string cipltnarian, the smile of a man who
“Let us," he said, "consider me must be tactful and pleasant to
(
as the X' quantity. And let ‘X’ many people. His lips were thin
WORLD OF A 83
:

he looked as if he could cut an inter- face, the other six to his throat,
view short, or keep it firmly to the shoulders and the upper part of his
point. back.
The man was an executive, capa-
ble, a^ert, accustomed to the exercise Gooseyn grew aware, a jerky
of authority. awareness, that he was not the only
He said now: “Gosseyn, we are overwrought person in the room.
men who would have been doomed The two men, Hardie and the mon-
strosity, leaned forward in their
to minor positions if we had ac-
cepted the rule of the Machine and chairs. Blue eyes and yellow-brown
eyes glowed moistily avid.
the philosophy of A. We know we
The girl sat crouched in her
are capable. Ninety-nine percent of
chair, her legs drawn up, one hand
the world’s history was made by
rigidly holding a cigarette to her
our kind; and you may be sure it
lips. She puffed at it automatically
shall be so again.”
but she didn’t inhale. She simply
Hesmiled bleakly: “I tell you
took the smoke into her mouth, then
this without explanations to em-
thrust it out again. She did this
phasize the following instructions:
over and over.
Gosseyn, there are several guns
Of the' quartet, Thorson was the
pointing at you, all of them lethal.
calmest.With steady fingers, he
You will accordingly without fuss made some final adjustments on
walk over to that chair” he mo- —— something in the machine that Gos-
tioned with his right hand "and
seyn couldn’t see, then looked que.s-
you will submit to manacles and
tioningly at Michael Hardie.
such other minor indignities.” But it was Gosseyn who broke the
His gaze traveled beyond Gos- silence, who said thickly
seyn. He said “Thorson, bring
:
“I think you ought to listen to me
over the necessary machines.” for a moment.”
He was no time waster, Presi- He paused, not because he was
dent Hardie. finished. But because suddenly he
Gosseyn did not hold back. He felt desperate. He thought: what
knew better than to hope to escape in the name of reason was going on
from this room. He walked over here? This couldn’t be happening
and allowed Thorson to handcuff to a law-abiding human being on the
his wrists to the arms of the chair. peaceful Earth of 2560 A.D. *

Then watched with a tensed curios- “I feel,” he said, and his voice
ity as the big man wheeled over a sounded husky in his own ears, “like
table with small, delicate-looking a child in a madhouse. You want
machines on it. something from me. For logic’s
Thorson attached a dozen
Silently, sake, tell me what, and I’ll do my
cupshaped devices from one of the best for you.”
machines to Gosseyn’s skin with ad- He caught hold of himself. He
hesives, six of them to his head and smiled wanly, said:

34 AST O ON 1>J NO SCIENCE-FICTION


: : ” :

“Naturally, 1 value my life more He broke off “I don’t think any


:

than any fact that you can possibly statement Gosseyn makes, or that is
require of me. I can say that safely made about him by ordinary brain-
because in this world of ours no testing devices, can be accepted by
individual matters to the extent that us.”
his ideas, his inventions, can be used President Hardie nodded curtly.
to the detriment of mankind. In- “He’s right, Pat. Don’t forget that
dividual machines cannot sway the you don’t know who he is. With
balance against the accumulated this man we can take no chances
mass of science as employed by de- whatsoever.**
termined, courageous men in the Almost, it was like listening to a
defense of civilization. That has foreign language. Gosseyn said
been proven. Unique science cannot hopelessly
win a war.” “Let's start at the beginning. Who
He halted, looked questioningly at do you think I am?”
Michael Hardie. “Is it anything The moment he had spoken, he
like that? Any invention of my pre- felt breathless. His muscles grew
semi -amnesic days !*’ rigid his eyes widened. He hadn’t
;

“No!” The speaker was “X”. expected to utter the question just
The cripple looked amused. He like that, without leading up to it
went on: “You know, this is really by careful adherence to the laws of
interesting. Here is a man who persuasive rhetoric.
knows neither his purpose nor his He waited.
antecedents, and yet he must have
within him something that can de- It was “X” who broke the de-
stroy us all. I can’t quite believe, veloping silence. The creature man
my friend, that you are so innocent.” laughed heartily.
“Oh, it’s true. He’s telling the “You don’t think we’re going to
truth.” Patricia Hardie lowered tell you that. Dead men, of course,
her feet to the floor, and let her tell no tales blit

cigarette hand dangle. She looked He stopped. He laughed again,
and sounded very earnest. “The but there was an edge of irritation
liedetector at the hotel said that his in his amusement. He said
conscious mind was not aware of “I seem to have let something
his identity.*’’ slip. Well, it doesn't matter much.
A plastic arm waved at her pa- You must have realized by this
tronizingly. The bass voice was time that we couldn’t let you out o f
tolerant here alive.”
“Mydear young lady, don’t for- The incredible thing was that he
get that machines are corruptible. hadn’t. Like some ever hopeful

— —
Crang and I” his voice grew sig- idiot, he hadn't really let himself
nificant “have proved that to the think about personal death coming
satisfaction of approximately a mil- out of this.
lion men, including your father.” .Suddenly, now, he saw that these

WORLD- OF AST— 2R 35

men were remorseless. Just to what
enormous extent they were com-
mitted to treason, Gosseyn couldn’t
judge. But they considered they
had gone too far to turn back. They
must have had null-A training to a
point, butsomehow they had leveled
off; like the strong men of old,
they had leveled off on a low ab-
straction — dominated by courage
and the will to dark achievement.
The level of power, the level of
killer
Hardie was shaking his leonine
head. “No, it doesn’t matter what
he knows. In fact, I think the
examination of his brain by Thor-
son might be assisted to some extent
if lie is given information. What
do you think, Jim?”
Thorson shrugged doubtfully.
“We three are among the few who
know about him. It seems danger-
ous to me even to include him.” Me
finished grudgingly. “Tt won’t hurt,
I suppose.”
“Miss Hardie," said “X”. “Leave
the room, please.”
The girl’s lips tightened : her eyes
glinted.
“I prefer to stay," she said. She
tossed her head defiantly. “After
all. I took risks.”
Nobody said anything. The half-
man simply looked at her with eyes
that seemed to Gosseyn implacable.
Patricia Hardie stirred uneasily,
then looked to her father as if for
support. The great man evaded her
gaze, twisting uncomfortably in his
chair.
She got up, her lip curling. “So
he’s got you buffaloed, too,” she
said with a sneer. “Well, don’t

ASTOCNDIN'O SC BNC B- 8* ICT tO X


I
: : ” :

think he scares me. I’ll put a bullet plastic instrument box.Others, he


into him one of these days that no knew, were too sensitive to be ex-
surgeon will be able to put a plasto posed to anything so violent as the
over.” normal temperature and brightness
She went out, and slammed the of a room. They would be hidden
door. Hardie said deep in their little inclosures with
“Shall I tell Gosseyn, or will only a minute fraction of their easily
you ?” irritated glass-smooth forms con-
“I will,” said “X”. nected with the outside.
He took about fifteen minutes. Watching hurt lias eyes. He kept
When he had finished, and the blinking ;
and the tears that resulted,
reverberations of his bass voice had blurred his vision. With an effort,
died from the room, Gosseyn said Gosseyn looked away from the table
unsteadily and its machines. The movement
“But that’s impossible. Some must have been too sudden for his
coincidence of presence would ex- Something banged
plain it. And besides
— strained nerves.
inside his head, and a violent head-
There was no “besides”, nothing ache began.
to say. The identity was too tremen- Realization came with a start that
dous. And meaningless. He saw this was what the machine was do-
that Thorson’s fingers were hover- ing to him.
ing over the power switch of the It was as if he had sunk to the
machine on the table. bottom of a pool of water. There
The moving fingers twisted seemed to be heavy- pressure on him
strongly.* from every side, inside included. As
There was a click and a hum. from a great distance, he heard
Tliorson’s calm voice lecturing his
At first nothing happened. He hearers
was tensed to resist energy flows.
all “This an is machine.
interesting
And there weren’t any. It manufactures a variation of nerv-
Blankly, Gosseyn watched the ous energy. The energy is absorbed
machine. It hummed and throbbed. through the dozen nodes I have
Like so devices, it had its own
many placed on Gosseyn’s head and shoul-
special electron tubes. Whether they ders, and flows evenly along all the
were used for controlling the speed nerve paths that have been pre-
of unseen motors, or for amplify- viously established in his body. It
ing some obscure sound in his body, does not itself establish any new
or converting energy, or timing patterns whatsoever.
changes in an invisible process, or “You must think of it as an im-
for any one of a hundred other pulse that rejects instantly the
tasks, was impossible for Gosseyn slightest difficulty. It recoils from
to decide. obstacles that vary by approximately
Some of the tubes peeped brightly one percent from what to it is
out of holes in an opaque curving normal.

WORLD OF A 37
: —
“It is a supreme adherent of the He disappeared through the near-
school of energies that follow the est door.
law of least resistance.”
It was hard, thinking against the Watching wasn’t necessary. Gos-
sound of the voice. Gosseyn’s seyn couldn’t have stood steadily on
thought waxed and waned, never his feet. His brain was turning
quite clearing. Ilis identity: what rapidly in an illusion of spinning.
did it mean? . . . impossible ... It Like a child that has whirled around
did imply a purpose of course, and and around too often, he had to
a tremendous one, but unwind. Thorson was back before
His mind couldn't form a com- he could see straight.
plete thought. He strained against He entered slowly; and, ignor-
the blurring power of the voice and ing both “X” and Hardie, walked
against the energy that was flowing over to Gosseyn. He had two prints
through him. Nothing came but in his hand, and he paused with
spasms of ideas, and Thorson’s them directly in front of his prison-
voice er, and stared at him. At last he
“The medically interesting char- spoke, but not in English. It was
acteristic of this artificial flow of a strange language, heavy with con-
nervous energy is that it is photo- sonants. He paused finally, ques-
graphable. In -a few moments, as tioningly.
'

soon as the movement of artificial “What kind of jargon is that?”


energy has penetrated the remotest said Hardie from Gosseyn's left.
easy paths. I’ll obtain several nega- Thorson waved at him, an im-
tives, and make some positive prints. patient command to be silent. It
When enlarged in segments through was a startlingly discourteous ac-
a projector, the prints wilt show us tion ;and what was more, he seemed
in what parts of his brain his mem- to be quite unaware that he had
ory is concentrated. Since science made it.

has long known the nature of the Hestood there and suddenly his
;

memory stored in every cell group, personality was not just that of one
we can then decide where to con- more He had been hold-
individual.
centrate the pressures that will force ing it in. Underneath the cold ex-
the particular memory we want terior was a blaze of nervous energy,
onto the verbal level. a supremely potent human being.

“A further use of this machine, And now, Gosseyn saw that his
using more power, and combined manner was not one of deference
with a complicated word-associa- to superiors. It was command, as-
tions system-formula will perform sured, final, unequivocal. When he
the actual operation.” obeyed, it was because he wanted to.
He shut off the machine, and When he disagreed, his way went.
pulled some film out of the camera. “X” wheeled over, and gently re-
He said: moved the prints from Thorson’s
“Watch him!” fingers. He handed one to Hardie.

.18 ASTOUNDING SCIENCE- FI CT ION


:

The two men examined the photo- “In twenty-four hours or less!”
graphs with two distinct and sep- Thorson was incredulous. “Haven't
arate emotions. you ever heard of George the boy
“X” half-climbed out of his chair. who lived with the animals? Gos-
The movement did revealing things seyn’s in the same boat.”
It showed
to his semi-plastic body. There were whispers of objec-
He was taller than Gos-
his height. tion, to which Thorson responded
seyn had thought, at least five eight furiously
or nine. It showed how his plastic “Surely, you don’t expect him to
arm was fastened to the plastic cage escape from that dungeon. You
around the middle of his body. must be going batty. Or have you
It showed that his face could look been reading Aristotelian fiction,
startled. He half-whispered: where the hero always wins?”
“It’s a good thing we didn’t let There was no question finally of
him go see that psychiatrist. We who was going to have their way.
struck at the right moment — at the Men came and carried Gosseyn.
beginning.” chair and all, manacles and all, down
Michael Hardie looked irritated. four flights of stairways, and into a
“What are you two babbling about? solid steel dungeon. The final stairs
Don’t forget that I'm the president led down into the dungeon; and
of Earth entirely because of your when the men had climbed back to
ability to control the games of the the floor above, a motor lifted the
Machine. I never could get all this whole staircase through the hole in
null-A stuff about the human brain the ceiling twenty feet above.
into my head. A steel door clanged down over
“All I see is a solid core of bright- the hole, heavy bars were slammed
ness. I presume that those are the home; and there was silence.
linesof nerve patterns, and that
they will untangle when enlarged V.
on a screen,”
This time Thorson seemed to hear. "Miraculous cures seldom occur.
He walked over, pointed at some- Despite their small number, they
thing on the print, and whispered prove the existence of organic and
an explanation that slowly drained mental processes that we do not
the color from Hardie’s face. know. They show that certain
“We’ll have to kill him,” he said mystic states have definite ef-
. . .

grayly. “At once.” fects.”


Thorson shook his head irritably. A. C.
“Whatever for? What can he do?
Warn the world!” He grew more Gosseyn got up from the chair,
intent. “Notice there are no bright and paced up and down his cell.
lines near f/.” The darkness was an impenetra-
“But suppose he finds how to use ble cloak wrapped around his eyes.
it?” That was Harding. But by carefully measuring the dis-
WORLD OF A f* a®
;

tauce from wall to wall, and setting impulse in other human beings for
Ins mind to a rhythm of eight steps, approximately two years as an :

he put the limitation out of his emulsion on a film negative for sev-
conscious thought. eral score years as an electronic
;

He grew aware of the palpitations pattern in a series of cathode-ray


of his body. His heart hammered cells for perhaps two centuries.
his temples throbbed and every few
;
None of the potentialities di-
moments he felt faint and ill with minished even fractionally the flow
reaction. There seemed no end to of perspiration from his body in
the perspiration that poured from that hot, almost airless room.
him. "I’m as good as dead." he thought
he thought. “Hor-
'T'ui afraid," in agony. "I’m going to die. I’m
ribly, wretchedly afraid." going to die.”
But bow could that be, if his iden- He realized his nerve was break-
tity was wliat it was? Could such ing.
a being as he was, know fear? A sudden oxygen-lack fatigue
Gosseyn smiled wanly. There seized him. He fumbled his way
was no question about that. The to the chair, and sank breathlessly
fear existed, an almost palpable into it. Sitting he played
there,
force. Except that thinking about absently with one of the manacles.
it made a difference in the direction Several times he ran the sensitive
of self-control. tips of his fingers around the closed
Fear must derive from the very circle of steel that had held his
colloids of a substance. flowerA right wrist.
closing its petals for the night was Lucky he had gotten rid of those
showing fear of the dark, but it tightly binding things.
bad no nervous system to transmit Lucky —
what ? ? !

the impulse, and no thalamus to re- He had no memory of working


ceive and translate the electric mes- his hands out of the >nanacles.
sage into an emotion. His mind leaped back violently,
To and fro, to and fro, Gosseyn striving to visualize themomentary
l*aced. A human being, he thought incidents. He had beeu carried
jerkily, was a physico-chemical manacled to the chair, and the chair
structure, whose awareness of life had been deposited with a rough
was derived from an intricate nerv- casualness onto the metal floor of
ous system. After death, the body the cell. Then the men had gofte.
disintegrated the personality sur-
; And he had stood up in a fever
vived as a series of distorted im- of excitement, somehow out of the
pulse-memories in other people’s manacles.
nervous systems. His brain began to seesaw. His
Dimmer, dimmer would those body and mind as a whole throbbed
memories grow, as the years flew by. with a wild surmise: how? how?
Gilbert Gosseyn, at a maximum HOW?
estimate, would survive as a nerve A light flashed into brilliance on
40 ASTOUNDING SC WNC W FICTIONl
:

the ceiling-; a metal slot was shoved wrists. The thoroughness of it did
open. A voice said sick things to the pit of Gosseyn’s
'‘Yes, Mr. Thorson, lie’s doing stomach.
fine.

He ” The voice collapsed The About
detectives remained.
like a pricked balloon. Then: five minutes went by. There was a
“Jumpin' magicians! he’s out of the clatter of footsteps on the metal
handcuffs !” stairway. The big form of Thor-
There was a bellowing, muffled son came briskly down into the
by the metal barrier. Then the cell.
heavy door in the ceiling lifted, and “I’m afraid, Gosseyn,” he said
the staircase came rushing down to- with an unexpected impersonalness,
wards the floor. Two men with sub- “I’ll have to hurt you this time. The
machine guns stood on the lower pressure I’m now going to apply to
step. They leaped to the floor when your brain frequently causes lesions
the stairway still had three feet to —
and insanity. Sorry but you can
go, and took up positions in opposite see for yourself that we can’t waste
corners. time, or take chances with a man
Their guns started with implac- like you.”
able alertness at Gosseyn, where he
sat, held rigid in the chair by the Gosseyn saw his own shadow
immediacy of the threat. lengthen on the wall ahead of him.
Other men crouched at the top of He did not turn to look at the source
the stairs with other equally alert of the light, nor did it occur to him
guns. to answer the yells of the men carry-
Minutes passed. And then work- ing the light.
men began to edge down the stairs He ran on, the pain in his mind
carrying a table. In quick succes- like living fire. He had no remem-
sion. the machine that had already brance of what had become of Thor-
been used against Gosse}^, and sev- son, or of how he had escaped from
eral others of different shape and the dungeon. His mind was an
purpose, were carted down, and agonized, conscious mass inside his
bolted to the table. head.
The workmen retreated hastily up He must get out. He must get
the stairs. away from these corrupted grounds.
Six detectives trooped down gin- The Machine, he thought in a daze
gerly. Two of them examined Gos- of hope, he could get to the
if

seyn’s hands and wrists. Machine a third of a mile away,


“His hands don’t look small,” there would be people even though
;

said one.He frowned, and slowly it was dark, there would be people.

straightened.“O.K. !” he said, And there would be the Machine


“chain him to the chair. And good.” itself.
They used metal clamps, pinning He came to the wall of a room,
Gosseyn’s waist, then his shoulders, a wall that had no door in the direc-
his upper arms, his elbows and his tion he was going. After he was
WORLD OF a 41
— : ;

past the wall, a great wonder came “He’s really somebody then ?”
as to how he had done it. His mind Her father was grim. “He can
reached and reached for the answer, destroy us all.”
and almost became sane from the Patricia Hardie said nothing. She
very strength of his will to know. bad half turned in the chair in which
But not quite sane. The uncer- she was lounging; and it was from
tainty, the fever began to come back. that position that she saw Gosseyn.
He felt his thought sinking, down, Something of her capacity for
down, towards the level of pain re- handling situations involving people
action. showed in that instant. Her eyes
One final struggle he made. And widened the slightest bit. Then she
thought amazed: If this was what yawned lazily.
he could do, knowing nothing of his “I think,” she said, “I’ll go
powers, then what potentialities RIGHT”—she lingered over the
awaited him when he finally learned word — “up to bed. Maybe I'd better
to control the new function. use the HALL CLOSET stairs just
The thought faded. His brain outside here. It leads to within
grew blank. He
could hear him- twenty feet of my
room.”
self breathing hard. There was Her father nodded, more nerv-
foam in his mouth. He could feel ous now. “Send in some guards
the aching tiredness of his legs. from the anteroom. I don’t feel safe
He came to a door, and stood while that fellow is abroad.”
afraid that it would be dangerous She got to her feet, humming
to open it. After a moment, he noisilythough musically. The sound
edged mindlessly along the wall muffled Gosseyn’s movements. He
and went through the wall. followed her directions to the letter
There were two people in the and every word was so. The door
room, but for a minute neither saw to the right led to a hall ; and there
the intruder. President Hardie, was a hall closet with a narrow
whose back was to Gosseyn, was staircase leading to the second floor.
saying in a quiet, strong voice to his He reached the girl’s room without
daughter : seeing a single person.
“I haven’t the faintest idea, Pat. A subtle aroma of perfume iden-
The alarm came through a few mo- tified the bedroom suite. From the
ments ago. We’ve got a monster French windows near the canopied
loose in the palace.” bed, the atomic beacon of the Ma-
Monster! Gosseyn tried to vis- chine blazed so close that it almost
ualize that conception of himself. seemed to Gosseyn he could put
But it was too one-valued no image
; forth his hand, and grasp the light.
would come. Throughout he had He wasted no time. Patricia
been unable to imagine himself as Hardie’s action had two explana-
not human. tions; Gosseyn thought of them
Pie saw that the girl’s eyes were both, vaguely but effectively
sparkling. She had changed her changeable
42 ASTOUNDING SCIENCE-FICTION
— : .

mind about him. Or else bad pre- lenting fire, and the bullets search-
tended to help in order to get him ing through his writhing body. The
out of the room where she and her blows and the flame tore at every
father were alone, briefly without vital organ in his body, at his legs,
protection. Out of the room, and his heart, his lungs, everything, even
toward some definite area, where lie after he had stopped moving. His
could be surrounded. last dim thought was the infinitely
He couldn't take the chance. The sad, hopeless realization that now he
French windows opened onto a tree- would never see Venus and its un-
screened balcony. Below, was a gar- fathomed mysteries.
den inclosed only by shrubs and Somewhere along there, death
flowers and beyond, the smooth
;
came.
lawns and boulevards that led to VI.
the Machine.
Gosseyn was a hundred feet from “To one who finds no sense
the base, the almost deserted base in the universe
of the Machine, when a dozen cars And doubts survival, my advice
careened from behind a line of trees, would be
where they, had been hiding; and Set your affairs in order, hire
guns opened fire on him. a hearse,
One wild shout Gosseyn uttered Choose some snug cemetery,
al the Machine “Help me
: Help !”
! and wait and see.”
Aloof and unheeding, the Ma- B.M
chine towered above him. If it^vas
true, as legend said, that it was able “Where was he found?” said a
to defend itself and its grounds, man’s voice.
then here apparently was no reason “Lying near the Machine !” The
for action. Not by a flicker of a reply was by a woman, contralto-
lube did it show awareness of the toned.
outrage that was being done in its “And he doesn’t belong on
presence. Venus?”
Gosseyn was crawling frantically “No, there is no record of him
along the grass, when the first bullet in Registry. He is to
be questioned
actually struck him. It hit his shoul- as to how he got to Venus, then
der and sent him spinning half a killed. Fm sorry you weren’t here.
dozen feet into the path of a burning But then, you’re away so often,
energy beam. His clothes and flesh y ou would have had him taken
flared in an insanity of flame; and straight back, wouldn’t you?”
then he had rolled over and the
. ;
“I imagine so; there’s nothing
bullets were focused again. They wrong with him that I can see. But,
began to rip him apart, as he burned of course, you couldn’t know.”
with an incandescent fury. A pause then the man again
;

Even as liis consciousness sank “Poor chap!” His voice was


into night, lie could feel the unre- sympathetic. “Amazingly fine phys-

WORLD OF A
: — —
ical speciman. Well” he must
— — Venus? The slow flow of im-
have shrugged “it’s the law, and pressions ceased. Venus ! But he !

a proper one, I think.” wasn't on Venus, he thought


They went away, closing a door astounded. He was on Earth.
quietly. Gosseyn lay in the bed Something of memory awakened
like a stone. For the minute or so in a remoter section of his mind.
that the voices had sounded in his The trickle of impulse-patterns be-
presence, his brain had been a com- came a stream, then a great, clark
posite of cars and the simple im- river rushing towards a wide sea.
pression of what the ears were “I died,” he told himself. “ 1 was
hearing. shot and burned to death.”
Nothing else! The words pene- He cringed with the tensed re-
trated to no other part of his mind. membrance of hideous pain. His
They had no meaning connected body pressed hard against the bed
with him. He was an inanimate then slowly his mind opened out
object possessed of the capacity for again and the fact that he was alive
;

accurately absorbing sounds. with the memory of having been


Just when another thought came, killed became less a thing of re-
< /osseyn had no clear awareness membered agony, more a puzzle, a
afterwards. Actually the first part paradox that had no apparent ex-
of the developments that followed planation in a null-A world.
were not really thoughts. The fear that the pain would
There was a period when he could resume dimmed with the passing
feel bis body lying on the bed, could of the uneventful minutes. His
feel the pressure of the sheets, held thought, in that curious semicon-
up by the springs pressing him.
No mental image of the bed
— scious world in which he had his
momentary being, began to concen-
was involved, what it looked like, trate on different aspects of his
the materials composing it. But situation.
gradually the impression in his mind He remembered Patricia Hardie
extended Himself being held up
: and her father. He remembered
by tlie bed, the bed by the floor, “X” and the implacable Thorson.
the floor by metal and concrete There was some curious method of
foundations escape that he had used. And some-
. It was a normal null-A unfolding thing they had told him They had—
of thought continuity, the instinc- toldhim who he was.
tive attempt -of a high trained mind Gosseyn’s brain poised, stunned.
to orientate itself to its environment Who was he ?
as a whole. He let the thought There was nothing in his memory
How on about that, nor about his escape. He
. . . The foundations by the soil had forgotten. Or else the knowl-
of Venus, solidly, strongly sup- edge had been extirpated from his
jjorted bed on the impregnable —
brain a new deliberately created
planetary base that was Venus. semi-amnesia, as inexplicable as the

44 ASTOUNDING SCIWNC’H- FrOTION


; ! ;

earlier attempt to conceal from him a flare of light. A man and a wom-
lus identity. an came in.
The realization had an enormous
purely physical effect on him. He Bright, bright light ! Gosseyn
started up in the bed, jerked his eyes closed his eyes ; and so uncon-
open —
and half fell, half climbed to sciously made the pause of thalamic-
the floor. cortical integration. His brain,
He lay there face downwards, trained to produce that very integra-
his knees drawn upwards, partly tion, didso now, automatically.
supporting him. He was aware that When he opened his eyes, he was
it was very dark, both inside and fully sane and adjusted to organized
outside his skin. The inside dark- thought. All his dreamlike fears
ness, the dizziness, went out of him were gone, as if they had never ex-
slowly. Awareness remained that isted. Cool and thoughtful, though
lie had strained his muscles by that tensed and alert, he looked out at
spasmodic movement, but that the small, hostile world of his room.
otherwise he was all right. He glanced at the man and the
He probed for the edge of the woman, then at the room, and then
lied with one hand. Then, using out through the plasto-windows.
the bed for support, lifted himself, One look there; and the room
climbed back under the thin sheets, couldn’t hold his attention
and looked around him. The room became an inclosing
There was nothing to see. The fullness of bright walls and scant
room was pitch dark obviously the ;
though shining furniture, a base
plasto-windows were electronically from which his gaze could soar. It
darkened after the manner of all and the people in it were over-
hospital rooms. Somewhere on the shadowed. dwarfed by the scene
bed would be a control board to outside.
operate such devices. As soon as he The building, the bedroom,
found it, he could carefully inves- seemed to "be on a hillside overlook-
tigate his extensional environment ing a valley. Not too high a hill-
and, since remaining in the room side, because through the lower
would mean death — edge of the window he could see a
Gosseyn’s brain made a whirl- wide, badly discolored river. It was
wind stop. The clear-cut memory beyond the river that the giant trees
of the words he had heard in the began.
remote period when he first began There was instantly no question
to regain consciousness, shivered but that he was not on Earth.
into him with all its potent import. Cyclopean were those trees! One,
A law that people who were
... two, three thousand feet they
on Venus illegally had to be killed towered into the misty heavens.
. . He felt a mental anguish.
. They started about a mile away
Before lie could think about it, and each tree was as thick at the
the door opened softly. There was base as a normal city block. The
WORLD OF i 48
;

branches began low down; and the fensive belt around the waist of
trees tangled with each other in a his shorts. And the woman’s brief
fantastic intertwining of gigantic skirt and brassiere couldn’t possibly
limbs and endless foliage. have hidden a weapon or a defensive
It was impossible to see for sure, device of any known design.
but Gosseyn had the impression that Now! Gosseyn thought tensely.
the forest of titans stretched away Now was the time to act, before
into the remote and verdant wilder- they made plans to imprison him.
ness. Before they could get out of the
“This is surprising,” said the room.
man, “he seems startled by the trees, Could he do it? He lay there,
as if he hasn’t seen them before.” cold and calculating, but conscious
Very carefully, Gosseyn drew his of an intense hot spot starting in
mind and his gaze back into the the pit of his stomach, spreading
room. He was, he discovered, slowly. Did he have the strength,
sitting bolt upright in the bed. the physical co-ordination necessary
He let himself sink back onto the to violent action? He who a few
pillow ; and from that prostrate minutes before had collapsed dizzily
position he surveyed the two people, from the slightest movement!
the man and the woman, his He realized that he had to have
captors, his keepers. . The man was the strength.
a blond-haired chap,
fine-looking He swung his legs from under the
the woman wassmall and dark and quilt, and out over the edge of the
good-looking in a healthy, intelligent bed. It was a little startling, in the
fashion. Knowing that they had presence of a woman, to discover at
either won the trip to Venus in the that ultimatemoment, for the first
games, or that they were descend- was stark naked.
time, that he
ants of past victors, helped to fill But there was no stopping for
Gosseyn’s swift appraisal. But modesty’s sake.
even that was not enough to etch “Venus !” lie said.
them in his mind as personalities. He needed the exclamation, to
Two people, a man and a woman make it look as if he was merely
—Venusians! The man said: reacting physically in surprise. It
“Don’t be alarmed. You arc on gave him time to launch himself at
Venus. I am a doctor.” the man.
“Venus!” said Gosseyn. The doctor struck at him. It was
He made it sound incredulous. a weak blow, the blow of a sur-
He put fear and wonder into it. prised man, reacting swiftly. It
He put all his determination that struck Gosseyn on the shoulder ; and
they should not suspect that he had if he had been a smaller man, less
overheard their discussion of the superbly muscled, it might have
legal necessity of killing him. stopped him even then.
He saw that they were unarmed But he wasn’t. And the man had
the man did not wear an energy de- ( Continued on page 156 )

4ft ASTOUNDING 80 IENCB-FICTION


Into Thy Hands
by LESTER DEL REY
The trouble with robots was that , even when they had knowledge ,

they didn't have sense. They tended to know only % chat they were
taught. That made one robot a religion* maniac and one a prisoner!
,

Illustrated by William*

Simon Ames was old, and his face unhappily. “None, Dad. They’ve
was bitter as only that of a con- fed their people on the glories of
firmed idealist can be. Now a queer carnage and loot so long they have
mixture of emotions crossed it mo- to find some pretext to use their
mentarily, as he watched the work- hordes of warrior robots.”
men begin pouring cement to fill the “The stupid, blind idiots !” The
small opening of the domelike struc- old man shuddered. “Dan, it sounds
ture, but his eyes returned again to like old wives’ fears,but this time
the barely visible robot within. it’s true; unless we somehow
avoid
“The last Ames’ Model 10,” he or win this war quickly, there’ll be
said ruefully to his son. “And even no one left to wage another. I’ve
then I couldn’t put in full memory spent my life on robots, I know what
coils ! Only the physical sciences —
they can do and should never be
here biologicals in the other male
;
made to do Do you think I’d waste
!

form, humanities in the female. I a fortune on these storehouses on


had to fall back on books and equip- a mere whim?”
ment to cover the rest. We’re al- “I’m not arguing, Dad. God
ready totally converted to soldier knows, I feel the same !” Dan
robots, and no more humanoid ex- watched the workmen pour the last
periments. Dan, is there no way concrete, to leave no break in the
conceivable war can be avoided ?” twenty- foot thick walls. “Well, at
The young Rocket Force captain least if anyone does survive, you’ve
shrugged, and his mouth twitched done all you can for them. Now it's
] NTO THY HANDS 47

iu thehands of God!" went on within it. But he did not
Simon Ames nodded, but there know how he knew, or why.
was no satisfaction on his face as For a second longer he stood
he turned back with his son. “All there silently, then opened his mouth

we could and never enough! And for a long wailing cry. “Adam!
God? T wouldn't even know which Adam, come forth!" But there
of the three to pray survives were doubts in the oft- repeated caf?
science, life, culture.” The words now and the pose of his head as he
sighed into silence, and his eyes waited. And again only the busy
went black to the filled-in tunnel. sounds of the forest came back to
Behind them, the ugly dome him.
hugged the ground while the rains “Or God? God. do you hear
of God and of man’s destruction me ?”
washed over it. Snow covered it But the answer was the same. A
and melted, and other things built field mouse slipped out from among
up that no summer sun could dis- the grass and a hawk soared over
perse, until the ground was level the woods. The wind rustled among
with its top. The forest crept for- the trees, but there was no sign from
ward, and the seasons flicked by in the Creator. With a lingering back-
unchanging changes that pyramided ward look, he turned slowly to the
decade upon century. Inside, the tunnel he had made and wriggled
shining case of SA-10 waited im- back down it into his cave.
movably. Inside, light still came from a sin-
And at last the lightning struck, gle unbroken bulb, and lie let his
Wasting through a tree, downward eyes wander, from the jagged breech
into the dome, to course through a in the thick wall, across to where
cable, short-circuit a ruined timing some ancient blast had tossed
switch, and spend itself on the crumpled concrete against the op-
ground below. posite side. Between lay only ruin
and dirt. Once, apparently, that
Above the robot, a cardinal burst half had been filled with books and
into song, and he looked up, his but now there were only rotted
films,
stolid face somehow set in a look fragments of bindings and' scraps of
of wonder. For a moment, he lis- useless plastic tape mixed with
tened. but the bird had flown away broken glass in the filth of the floor.
at the sight of his lumbering figure. Only on the side where he’had
With a tired little sigh, he went on, been was the ruin less than com-
crashing through the brush of the plete. There stood the instruments
forest until he came back near the of a small laboratory, many still
entrance to his cave. useful, and he named them one by
The sun was bright above, and one, from the purring atomic gen-
lie studied it thoughtfully; the word erator to the projector and screen
he knew, and even the complex setup on one table.
carbon-chain atomic breakdown that. Here, and in his mind, were order
« ASTOUNDING SCI RNC19- V I <*T I ON
and logic, and the world above had she tempted the weak Adam, until
conformed to an understandable pat- God discovered their sin and ban-
ter. He alone seemed to be with- ished them. But the banishment
out purpose. How had he come ended in a blurr of ruined film as
here, and why had he no memory the speaker went dead.
of himself? If there was no pur- The robot shut it off, trying to
pose, why was he sentient at all? read its moaning. It must concern
The questions held no discoverable him, since he alone was here to see
answers. it. And how could that be unless
There were only the cryptic words he were one of its characters? Not
on the scrap of plastic tape pre- Eve or Satan, but perhaps Adam :

served inside the projector. But but then God should have answered
what little of them was understand- him. On the other hand, if he were
able was all he had he snapped off
; God, then perhaps the record was
the light and squatted down behind unfulfilled and Adam not yet
the projector, staring intently at the formed, so that no answer could be
screen as he flicked the machine on. given.
There was a brief fragment of He nodded slowly to himself.
some dark swirling, and then dots Why should he not have rested here
and bright spheres, becoming suns with this film to remind him of his
and planets that spun out of nothing plan, while the world readied itself
into a celestial pattern. “In the be- for Adam? And now, awake again,
ginning,” said a voice quietly, “God he must go forth and create man
created the heavens and the earth." in his own image! But first, the
And the screen filled with that, and danger of which the film had warned
the beginnings of life." must be removed.
“Symbolism?” the robot mut- He straightened, determination
tered. Geology and astronomy were coming into his steps as he squirmed
part of his knowledge, at least and
; purposefully upwards. Outside the
yet, in a mystic beauty, this was true sun was stiil shining, and he headed
enough. Even the life forms above toward it into the grossly unkempt
had fitted with those being created Eden forest. Now stealth came to
on the screen. him as- he moved silently through
Then a new voice, not unlike his the undergrowth, like a great metal
own resonant power, filled the speak- wraith, with eyes that darted about
er. “Let us go down and create and hands ready to snap forward
man in our image!" And a mist at lightning speed.
of light that symbolized God ap- And at last he saw it, curled up
peared, shaping man from the dust near a large rock. It was smaller
of the ground and breathing life than he had expected, a mere six
into him. Adam grew lonely, and feet of black, scaly suppleness, but
Eve was made from liis rib, to be the shape and forked tongue were
shown Eden and tempted by the unmistakable. He was on it with
serpentine mist of darkness; and a blurr of motion and a cry of
INTO THY HANDS 46
ASTOUNDING SCIENCE-FICTION
;

elation; and when he moved away, his fingers molded the colored days
the lifeless object on the rock was to hide the muscles and give smooth
forever past corrupting the most symmetry to the body. He had been
naive Eve. forced to guess at the color, though
The morning sun found the robot the dark lips on the film had ob-
bent over what had once been a viously been red from blood below
wild pig, a knife moving precisely them.
in his hand. Delicately he opened
the heart and manipulated it, study- Twilight found him standing back,
ing the valve action. Life, he was nodding approval of the work. It
deciding, was highly complex, and was a faithful copy of the film
a momentary doubt struck him. It Adam, waiting only the breath of
had seemed easy on the film And ! life and that must come from him,
;

at times he wondered why he should be a part of the forces that flowed


know the complex order of the through his own metal nerves and
heavens but nothing of this other brain.
creation of his. Gently he fastened wires to the
But at last he buried the pig’s head and feet of the clay body then
;

remains, and settled down among he threw back his chest plate to
the varicolored clays he had col- fasten the other ends to his gener-
lected, his fingers moving deftly as ator terminals, willing the current
he rolled a white type into bones for out into the figure lying before him.
the skeleton, followed by a red clay Weakness flooded through him in-
heart. The tiny nerves and blood stantly, threatening to black out his
vessels were beyond his means, but consciousness, but he did not be-
that could not be helped and surely
;
grudge the energy. Steam was
if he had created the gigantic sun spurting up and covering the figure
from nothing. Adam could rise as a mist had covered Adam, but
from the crudeness of his sculptur- it slowly subsided, and he stopped

ing. the current, stealing a second for


The sun climbed higher, and the relief as the full current coursed
details multiplied. Inside the last back through him. Then softly he
organ was complete, including the unhooked the wires and drew them
grayish lump that, was the brain, back.
and he began the red sheathing of “Adam l” The command rang
1

muscles. Here more thought was through the forest, vibrant with his
required to adapt the arrangement urgency. “Adam, rise up! I, your
of the pig to the longer limbs and creator, command it!”
different structure of this new body But the figure lay still, and now
but his mind pushed grimly on with he saw great cracks in it, while the
the mathematics involved, and at noble smile had baked into a gaping
last it was finished. leer. There was no sign of life!
Unconsciously he began a croon- It was dead, as the ground from
ing imitation of the bird songs as which it came.
INTO THY TIANDS n
— — ;

He squatted over it, moaning, strangely different from his own.


weaving from side to side, and his Of course God-life might differ
fingers tried to draw the ugly cracks from 'animal-life, but
together, only to cause greater ruin. With a shrug he dismissed his
And at last he stood up, stamping metaphysics and turned back to the
his legs until all that was left was laboratory, avoiding the piglets that
a varicoloredsmear on the rock.
' ambled trustingly under his feet.
Still he stamped and moaned as he Slowly he drew out the last ovum
destroyed the symbol of his failure. from the nutrient fluid in wnich
The moon mocked down at him with he kept it, placing it on a slide and
a wise and cynical face, and he under the optical microscope. Then,
howled at it in rage and anguish, to with a little platinum filament, he
be answered by a lonely owl, query- brought a few male spermatozoa to-
ing his identity. ward the ovum, his fingers moving
Apowerless God, or a Godless surely through the thousandths of
Adam! Things had gone so well an inch needed to place it.
in the film as Adam rose from the His technique had grown from
dust of the ground failures, and now the sperm cell
But the film was symbolism, and found and pierced the ovum. As
he had taken it literally Of course
! he watched, the round single cell
he had failed. The pigs were not began to lengthen and divide across
dust, but colloidal jelly complexes. the middle. This was going to be
And they knew more than he, for one of his successes! There were
there had been little ones that proved two, then four cells, and his hands
they could somehow pass the breath made lightning, infinitesimal ges-
of life along. tures, keeping it within the micro-

Suddenly he squared his shoulders scope field while he changed the


and headed into the forest again. slide for a thin membrane, lined
Adam should yet rise to ease his with thinner tubes to carry oxygen,
loneliness. The pigs knew the secret, food, and tiny amounts of the stim-
and he could learn it; what he ulating and controlling hormones
needed now were more pigs, and with which he hoped to shape its
they should not be too hard to obtain. formation.
But two weeks later it was a Now there were eight cells, and
worried robot who sat watching his he waited feverishly for them to
pigs munch contentedly at their reach toward the membrane. „But
food. Life, instead of growing sim- they did not! As he watched, an-
pler, had become more complicated. other division began, but stopped
The fluoroscope and repaired elec- the cells had died again. All his
tron microscope had shown him labor and thought had been futile,
much, but always something was as always.
lacking. Life seemed to begin only He stood there silently, relin-
with life; for even the two basic quishing all pretensions to godhood.
cells were alive in some manner His mind abdicated, letting the

82 ASTOUNDING SCIENCE-FICTION

dream vanish into nothingness and ;
“Here I am, I’m coming!"
there was nothing to take its place God would ease his troubles and
and give him purpose and reason explain why he was so different
only a vacuum instead of a design. from the pigs God would know all
;

Dully he unbarred the rude cage that. And then there’d be Eve, and
and began chasing the grumbling, no more loneliness He’d have
!

reluctant pigs out and up the tunnel, trouble keeping her from the Tree
into the forest and away. It was of Knowledge, but he wouldn’t mind
a dull morning, with no sun appar- that!
ent, and it matched his mood as the And from a different direc-
still

last one disappeared, leaving him tion the call reached him. Perhaps
doubly lonely. They had been poor God was not pleased with his noise.
companions, but they had occupied The robot quieted his steps and went
his time, and the little ones had ap- forward reverently. Around him
pealed to him. Now even they were the birds sang, and now the call
gone. came again, ringing and close. He
Wearily he dropped his six hun- hastened on, striving to blend speed
dred pounds onto the turf, staring with quiet in spite of his weight.
at the black clouds over him. An The pause was longer this time,
ant climbed up his body inquisitive- but when the call came it was al-
ly. and he watched it without inter- most overhead. He bowed lower
est. Then it, too, was gone. and crept to the ancient oak from
which it came, uncertain, half-
“Adam!" The
cry came from afraid, but burning with anticipa-
the woods, ringing and compelling. tion.
“Adam, come forth!" "Come forth, Adam, Adam!"
"God!” With metal limbs that The sound was directly above, but
were awkward and unsteady, he God did not manifest Himself
jerked upright. In the dark hour of visibly. Slowly the robot looked lip
his greatest need, Got! had finally through the boughs of the tree.
come! "God, here I am!" Only a bird was there and from —
"Come forth, Adam. Adam! its open beak the call forth again.
!"
Come forth, Adam "Adam, Adam!”
With a wild cry, the robot dashed A
mockingbird he’d heard imitat-
forward toward the woods, an elec- ing the other birds, now mimicking
tric tinglingsuffusing him. He was his own voice and words And he’d!

iiq longer unwanted, no longer a Lost followed that through the forest,
chip in the storm. God had come hoping to find God He screetched
!

for him. He stumbled on, tripping suddenly at the bird, his rage so
over branches, crashing through shrill that it leaped from the branch
bushes, heedless of his noise let ; in hasty flight, to perch in another
God know his eagerness. Again the tree and cock its head at him.
call came, now further aside, and “God?” it asked in his voice, and
he turned a bit, lumbering forward. changed to the raucous call of a jay.
INTO THY HANDS 63
!

The robot slumped back against metal, but it could not harm him,
the tree, refusing to let hope ebb and he stumbled on until he reached
wholly from him. He knew so little the banked-up entrance of his
of God might not He have used the
; muddy tunnel.
bird to call him here? At least the Safe inside, he dried himself with
tree was not unlike the one under the infrared lamp, sitting beside the
which God has put Adam to sleep hole and studying the wild fury ^jf
before creating Eve. the gale. Surely its furor held no
First sleep, then the coming of place for Eden, where dew damp-
God !He streached out deter- ened the leaves in the evening under
minedly, trying to imitate the pigs’ caressing, musical breezes
torpor, fighting back his mind’s silly He nodded slowly, his clenched
attempts at speculation as to where jaws relaxing. This could not be
his rib might be. It was slow and Eden, and God expected him there.
hard, but he persisted grimly, Whatever evil knowledge of Satan
hypnotizing himself into mental had lured him here and stolen his
numbness and bit by bit, the sounds
; memory did not matter; all that
of the forest faded to only a trickle counted was to return, and that
in his head. Then that, too, was should be simple, since the Garden
stilled. lay among rivers. Tonight he’d
He had no way of knowing how prepare here out of the storm, and
long itlasted, but suddenly he sat tomorrow he’d follow the stream in
up groggily, to the rumble af thun- the woods until it led him where
der, while a torrent of lashing rain God waited.
washed in blinding sheets over his With the faith of a child, he
eyes. For a second, he glanced turned back and began tearing the
quickly at his side, but there was no thin berylite panels from his labora-
scar. tory tables and cabinets, picturing
Fire forked downward into a his homecoming and Eve. Outside
nearby throwing splinters of it
tree, the storm raged and tore, but he no
against him. This was definitely not longer heard it. Tomorrow he
according to the film! He groped would start for home! The word
to his feet, flingingsome of the rain was misty in his mind, as all the
from his face, to stumble forward nicer words were, but it had a good
toward his cave. Again lightning sound, free of loneliness, and he
struck, nearer, and he increased his liked it.

pace to a driving run. The wind


lashed the trees, snapping some with Six hundred long endless years
wild ferocity, and it took the full had dragged their slow way into
power of his magnets to forge ahead eternity, and even the tough con-
at ten miles an hour instead of his crete floor was pitted by those cen-
normal fifty. Once it caught him turies of pacing and waiting. Time
unaware, and crashed him down had eroded all hopes and plans and
over a rock with a wild clang of wonder, and now there was only
04 A STOUNDINO SCIENCE FICTION
! — ;

numb despair, too old to vent itself through them, raising their power
in rage or madness, even. until the thoughts of another robot
The female robot slumped mo- mind were abruptly clear —thoughts
tionlessly on the atomic excavator, without sense, clothed in madness!
her eyes centered aimlessly across And even as the lunacy registered,
tfcedome, beyond the tiers of books they began to fade; second by sec-
and films and the hoiking machines ond, they dimmed into the distaifce
that squatted eternally on the floor. and left her alone again and hope-
There a pickax lay, and her eyes less !

rested on it listlessly; once, when With a wild, clanging yell, she


the dictionary revealed its picture threw the useless pickax at the wall,
and purpose, she had thought it the watching it rebound in echoing
key to escape, but now it was only din. But she was no longer aimless
another symbol of futility. her eyes had noted chipped concrete
She wandered over aimlessly, breaking away with the sharp metal
picking it up by its two metal han- point, and she caught the pick be-
dles and striking the wooden blade fore it could touch the floor, seizing
against the wall; another splinter the nub of wood in small, strong
chipped from the wood, and cen- hands. The full force of her
tury-old dust dropped to the floor, magnate lifted and swung, while
but that offered no escape. Noth- her feet kicked aside the rubble that
ing did. Mankind and her fellow came cascading down from the force
robots must have perished long ago, of her blows.
leaving her neither hope for free- Beyond that rapidly crumbling lay
dom nor use for it if it were freedom and—madness! Surely
achieved. there could be no human life in a
Once she had planned and world that could drive a robot mad,
schemed with all her remarkable but i f there were —
She thrust back
knowledge of psychology to restore the picture and went savagely on at-
man’s heritage, but now the note- tacking the massive wall.
littered table was only a mockery;
she thrust out a weary hand The sun shone on a drenched
And froze into a metal statue! forest filled with havoc from the
Faintly, through all the metal mesh storm, to reveal the male robot pac-
and concrete, a dim, weak signal ing tirelessly along the banks of
trickled into the radio that was part the shallow stream. In spite of the
of her heavy burden he carried, his legs
With all her straining energy, she moved swiftly now, and when he
sent out an answering call ; but there came to sandy stretches, or clear
was no response. As she stood land that bore only turf, his great
rigidly for long minutes, the signals strides lengthened still further; al-
grew stronger, but remained utterly ready he had dallied too long with
aloof and unaware of her. Now delusions in this unfriendly land.
some sudden shock seemed to cut Now the stream joined a larger
oc ASTOUNDING SCIENCE-FICTION
:

one, and he stopped, dropping his stars came out. Again he came to
ungainly bundle and ripping it apart. ruins, larger and harder to see, since
Scant minutes later, he was push- the damage were more complete and
ing an assembled beryl ite boat out the forest had claimed most of it.
and climbing in. The little genera- He was only sure because of the
tor from the electron microscope j
a gge d pits in which not even a
purred softly and a steam jet began blade of grass would grow. And
hissing underneath it was crude,
; sometimes as the night passed there
but efficient, as the boiling wake were smaller pits, as if some single
behind him testified, and while object had been blasted out of ex-
slower than his fastest pace, there istence. He gave up the riddle of
would be no detours or impassable such things, finally ;
it was no con-
barriers to bother him. cern of his.
The hours sped by and the shad- Whenmorning came again, the
ows lengthened again, but now the worst ruins were behind, and the
stream was wider, and his hopes river was wide and strong, suggest-
increased, though he watched the ing that the trip must be near its
bank’s idly, not yet expecting Eden. end. Then the faint salty tang of
Then he rounded a bend to jerk the ocean reached him, and he
upright and head toward shore, ob- whooped loudly, scanning the coun-
serving something totally foreign to try for an observation point.
the landscape. As he beached the Ahead, a low hill broke the flat
boat, and drew nearer, he saw a
country, topped by a rounded bowl
great gaping hole bored into the
of green, and he made toward it
earth for a hundred feet in depth
The boat crunched on gravel, and
and a quarter mile in diameter, sur-
he was springing off over the turf
rounded by obviously artificial ruins.
to the hill, up it, and onto the bowl-
Tall bent shafts stuck up haphazard,
shaped top that was covered with
amid jumbles of concrete Stid bits
vines. Here the whole lower course
of artifacts damaged beyond rec-
of the river was visible, with no
ognition. Nearby a pole leaned at a
more large branches in the twenty-
-.illy angle, bearing a sign.
fivemiles to the sea. The land was
We scratched the corrosion off
pleasant and gentle, and it was not
and made out dim words
hard to imagine Eden out there.

Welcome to Hogonville. But now for the first time, as he


started down, he noticed that the
Pop. 1,876.
mound was not part of the hill as

meant nothing it had seemed. It was of the same


It to him, but the
gray-green concrete as the walls of
ruins fascinated him. This must be
some old Satan
trick of such the cave from whicli he had broken,
;

ugliness could be nothing else. like a bird from an egg.

Shaking his head, he turned back And here was another such thing,
to the boat, to speed on while the like an egg unhatched yet but al-
INTO TUI HANDS 67
” ! !

ready cracking, as the gouged-out Half an hour later he was hum-


pit on its surface near him testified. ming happily to himself as he passed
For a moment, the idea contained beside lush with growing
fields, rich
in the figure of speech staggered things, along a woodland path.
little

him, and then he was ripping away Here was order and logic, as they
the concealing vines. and dropping should be. This was surely Eden!
into the hole, reaching for a small And to confirm it came Eve She !

plate pinned to an unharmed section was coming down the trail ahead,
nearby. It was a poor tool, but if her hair floating behind, and some
Eve were trapped inside, needing loose stuff draped over her hips and
help to break the shell, it would do. breasts, but the form underneath

“To you who may survive the was Woman, beautiful and un-
I, Simon Ames
holocaust, ” The
— mistakable. He drew back out of
words caught his eyes, drawing his sight, suddenly timid and uncertain,

attention to the plate in spite of his only vaguely wondering how she
will, their tersestrangeness pulling came here before him. Then she
his gaze across them. “ dedicate — was beside him, and he moved im-
this. There is no easy entrance, pulsively, his voice a whisper of
but you will expect no easy heritage. ecstasy
Force your way, take what is within, “Eve!”
use it! To you who need it and “Oh, Dan! Dan!” It was a wild
will work for I have left all shriek that cut the air, and she was
knowledge that
it,

was — rushing away in panic, into the

Knowledge! Knowledge, forbid- deeper woods. He shook his head


den by God Satan had put before
!
in bewilderment, while his own legs

his the unquestioned thing


path
began amore forceful pumping
after her. He was almost upon her
meant by the Tree of Knowledge
symbol, concealed as a false egg,
when he saw the serpent, alive and
stronger than before
and he had almost been caught A !

few minutes more —


He shud-!
But not for long!
gasp broke from her, one of his
As a single

dered, and backed out, but optimism


was freshening inside him again. arms lifted her aside, while the other
Let it be the T ree That meant this
!
snapped out to pinch the fanged
was really part of Eden, and being head completely off the body. His
voice was gently reproving as he
forewarned by God's marker, he had
no fear for the wiles of Satan, alive
put her down. “You shouldn't
have fled to the serpent, Eve!”
or dead.
With long, loping strides he

“To Ugh! But —
You could
have killed me before it struck!”
headed down the hill toward the
The taut whiteness of fear was
meadows and woods, leaving the fading from her face, replaced by
now useless boat behind. He would defianceand doubt.
enterEden on his own feet, as God “Killed you ?”
had made him! “You’re a robot! Dan!” Her
58 ASTOONDINU SCIENCE-FICTION
— ”

words cut off as a brawny figure hopes shattered like his clay man
emerged from the underbrush, an ax to believe wholly in this promise
in one hand and a magnificent dog of purpose and companionship, but
at his heels. “Dan, he saved me his voice caught as he answered.
!”
. .
. but he's a robot “You . . . want me?”
“I saw, Syl. Steady Edge this “Why not? You’re a storehouse
way, if you can. Good! They
!

of knowledge, Say-Ten, and we



sometimes get passive streaks, I’ve
“Satan?”
heard. Shep !”
“Your name there on your
The
dog’s thick growl answered, ;

chest.” Dan pointed with his left


but his eyes remained glued to the
hand, his body suddenly tense.
robot. “Yeah, Dan?”
“See? Right there!”
“Get the people; just yell robot
and hike back. O. K., scram You !
And now, as SA-10 craned his
neck, the foul letters were visible,
. . what do you want?”
.

high on his chest! Ess, aye


SA-10 grunted
harshly, hunching
his shoulders. “Things that don’t His first warning was the ax that
exist Companionship and a chance crashed against his chest, to rock
!

to use my
strength and the science
him back on his heels, and come
f know. Maybe I’m not supposed to
driving down again, powered by
have such things, but that’s what I muscles that seemed almost equal
to his own. It struck again, and
wanted 1”
something snapped inside him. All
"Hm-m-m. There are fairy
the strength vanished, and he col-
stories about friendly robots hidden
lapsed to the ground with a jarring
somewhere to help us, at that. We crash, knocking his eyelids closed.
could use help. What’s your name,
*hen he lay there, unable even to
and where from?”
open them.
Bitterness crept into the robot's
voice as he pointed up river. “From
He did not try, but lay waiting
almost eagerly for the final blows
the sunward side. So far, I've only
that would finish him. Satan, the
found who I'm not !”
storehouse of knowledge, the

self
“So ?Meant to get up there my-
when the colony got settled.”

tempter of men the one person he
had learned to hate !He’d come all
Dan paused, eying the metal figure
name and a pur-
this way to find a
speculatively. “We lost our books
pose ; now he had them No won- !
in the hell-years, mostly, and the
der God had locked him away in a
survivors weren’t exactly techni-
cians. So while we do all right cave to keep him from men.
with animals, agriculture, medicine “Dead! That little fairy story
and such, we’re pretty primitive threw him off guard.” There was
otherwise. If you really do know a tense chuckle from the man.
the sciences, why not stick around?” “Hope his generator’s still O.K.
The robot had seen too many We could heat every house in the

INTO THY HANDS


!

settlement with that. Wonder where Their feet moved away, leaving
his hideout was?" the robot still motionless but no
“Like the one up north with all longer passive. The Tree of Knowl-
the weapons hidden? Oh, Dan!" edge, so easily seen without the vine
A strange smacking sound accom- covering over the hole, was barely
panied that, and then her voice twenty miles away, and no casual
sobered. “We'd better get back search could miss it! He had to
for help in hauling him." destroy it first

eo ASTOUNDING SCIENCE-FICTION

Rut the little battery barely could lieved him and be trying to save him
maintain his consciousness, and the in secret. It came again. “Listen
generator no longer served him. and believe me! You can move
Delicate detectors were sending a very very little, but enough for
their messages through his nerves, me to 'see. Try to repair yourself,
assuring him it was functioning and let me be the strength in your
properly under automatic check, but hands. Try! Ah, your arm!"
beyond his control. Part of the It was inconceivable that she
senseless signaling device within could follow his imperceptible move-
him must have been defective-, ments, and yet he felt his arm lifted
unless the baking of the day man and placed on his chest as the
had somehow overloaded a part of thought crossed his mind. But it
it. and now it was completely was none of his business to question
wrecked, shorting aside all the gen- how or why. All his energy must
erator control impulses, leaving him be devoted to getting his strength
unable to move a finger. before the men could find the Tree!
Even when he blanked his mind “So ... I turn this . . . this
almost completely out, the battery nut. And the other — There, the
could not power his hands. His evil plate is off. What do I do now?"
work was done; now he would heat That stopped him. His life force
their house, while they sought the had been fatal to a pig, and probably
temptation he had offered them. would kill a woman. Yet she
And he could do nothing to stop it. trusted him. He dared not move
< iod denied him the chance to right hut the idea must have been father
the wrong he had done, even. to the act, for his fingers were
Bitterlyprayed on, while
he brushed aside and her arms scraped
strange sounded neat* him
noises over his chest, to be followed by an
and he felt himself lifted and car- instant flood of strength pouring
ried bumpily at a rapid rate. God through him.
would not hear him And at last he
!
Her fingers had slipped over his
stopped, while the bumping went on eyes, buthe did not need them as he
to whatever end he was destined. ripped the damaged receiver from
Finally even that stopped, and there itswelds and tossed it aside. Now
were a few moments of absolute there was worry in her voice, over
quiet. the crooning cadence she tried to
“Listen ! I know you still live!” maintain. “Don’t be too surprised
It was a gentle, soothing voice, at what you may see. Everything’s
hypnotically compelling, that broke all right!"
in the dark swirls of his thoughts'
Brief thoughts of God crossed his “Everything’s all right!" he re-
mind, but it was a female voice, peated dutifully, lingering over the
which must mean one of the settle- words as his voice sounded again in
ment women who must have be- his ears. For a moment more, while

NTH THY HANDS


!

he reafTixed his plate, he let her hold back slowly into a blind alley, while
his eyes closed. “Woman, who are striving to master his own rebellious
you?" emotions at what he must do. “Evil
“Eve. Or at least, Adam, those must be destroyed! Knowledge is
names do for us." And the
will forbidden to men!”
lingers withdrew, though she re- “Not all knowledge! Wait, let
mained out of sight behind him. me finish! Any condemned person
But there was enough for the lias a right to a few last words it —
firstglance before him. In spite, was the Tree of Knowledge of Good
of the tiers of bookcases and film and Evil. God called it that ! And
magazines, the machines, and the He had to forbid them to eat, be-
size of the laboratory, this was cause they couldn’t know which was
plainly the double of his own cave, the good don't you see, He was only
;

circled with the same concrete protecting them until they were
walls ! That could only mean the older and able to choose for them-
Tree! selves ! Only Satan gave them evil
With a savage lurch, he was fac- fruit —hate and murder to ruin —
ing the rescuer, seeing another them. Would you call healing the
robot, smaller, more graceful, and sick, good government, or improv-
female in form, calling to all the ing other
animals evil? That's
hunger and loneliness he had knowledge, Adam, glorious knowl-
known! But those emotions had edge God wants man to have. Can’t
betrayed him before, and he forced you see?”
them back bitterly. There could be For a second as she read his an-
no doubt while the damning letters swer, she turned to flee; then, with
spelled out her name. Satan was a little sobbing cry, she was facing
male and female, and Evil had gone him again, unresisting. “All right,
forth to rescue its kind murder me! Do you think death
Some of the warring hell of frightens me after being imprisoned

emotions must have shown in his here for six hundred years with no
movements, for she was retreating way to break free ? Only get it over
!"
before him, her hands fumbling up with
to cover the marks at which he Surprise and the sheer audacity
stared. “Adam, no The man read of the lie held his hands as his eyes

!

it wrong dreadfully wrong. It’s darted from the atomic excavator


not a name. We’re machines, and to a huge drill, and a drum marked
all machines have model numbers, as explosives. And yet even that —
like these. Satan wouldn’t adver- cursory glance could not overlook
tise his name. And I never had evil the worn floor and thousand marks
!”
intentions of age-long occupation, though the
“Neither did II” He bit the surface of the dome had been un-
words out. stumbling over the broken a few hours before. Reluc-
objects on the floor as he edged her tantly, bis eyes swung back to the

62 ASTOUNDING SCIENCE PICT) ON -


; — —
excavator, and hers followed. “Because I lost my temper and
“Useless! The directions printed threw the pickax. That’s how I
on it say to move the thing marked found the metal was the blade, not
‘Orifice Control’ to zero before the wood. The only machines I
!” could use were the projector and
starting. It can’t be moved
typer I was meant to use and the —
She stopped, abruptly speechless, typer broke 1”
as his fingers lifted the handle from “Um-m-m.” He picked the little

its ratchet and spun it easily back machine up, noting the yellowed in-
to zero ! Then she was shaking her complete page still in it, even as he
head in defeat and lifting listless slipped the carriage tension cord
hands to help him with the unfasten- back on its hook. But his real at-
ing of her chest plate. There was tention was devoted to the cement
no color left in her voice. dust ground into the splintered han-
“Six hundred years because I dle of the pick.
didn’t lift a handle! Just because No man or robot could be such a
I have absolutely no conception of complete and hopeless dope, and yet
mechanics, where all men have some he no longer doubted. She was a
instinct they take for granted. robot moron And if knowledge
!

They’d have mastered these ma- were evil, then surely she belonged
chines in time and learned to read to God All the horror of his con-
1

meaning into the books I memorized templated murder vanished, leaving


without even understanding the his mind clean and weak before the
titles. But I’m like a dog tearing at relief that flooded him as he mo- '

a door, with a simple latch over his tioned her out.


nose. Well, that’s that. Good-by, “All right, you’re not evil. You
Adam !” can go.”
But perversely, now that the “And you?”
terminals lay before him, he And himself? Before, as Satan,
hesitated. After all, the instruc- her would have been
arguments
tions had not mentioned the ratchet and he had discounted
plausible,
it was too obvious to need mention,

but — He tried to picture such


them. —
But now it had been the
Tree of Knowledge of Good and
ignorance, starting at one of the
Evil! And yet
Elementary Radio books above him.
“Dogs 1” She caught at him,
“Application of a Cavity Resona-
tor.” Mentally, he amid realize
.
dragging him to the- entrance where
that a nonscience translation was the baying sound was louder.
meaningless: Use of a sound pro- "They’re hunting you, Adam
ducer or strengthener in a hole! dozens of them!”
And then the overlooked factor He nodded, studying the distant
struck him. forms of men on horseback, while
“But you did get out 1” with
his fingers busied themselves

INTO THY HANDS «,*


!!

a pencil and scrap of paper. "And fought against his resolution. "You
they’ll be here in twenty minutes. talk too much!”
Good or evil, they must not find “And I’ll talk a lot more, until
what’s here. Eve, there’s a boat you behave sensibly! You’ll make
by the river; pull the red handle your mind sick, trying to decide
the way you want to go, hard for now; come up the river for six
fast, a light pull for slow. Here’s months with me. You can’t do any
a map to my cave, and you’ll be harm there, even if you are Satan
safe there.” Then, when you’ve thought it over,
Almost instantly, he was back at Adam, you can do what you like.
!”
the excavator and in its saddle, his But not now
fingers flashing across its panel ; its "For the
last time, will you go?”
heavy generator bellowed gustily, He dared not think now, while he
and the squat, heavy machine began was testing his way through the
twisting through the narrow isles flawed, cracked cement, and yet he
and ramming obstructions aside. could not quiet his mind to her
Once outside, where he could use its words, that went on and on. "GO
!”

full force without danger of back-


“Not without you! Adam, my re-
wash, ten minutes would leave only ceiver isn't defective I knew you’d
;
a barren hill; and the generator
me when I rescued you
try to kill
could be overdriven by adjustment
Do you think I’ll give up so easily
to melt itself and the machine into
now ?”
useless slag.
He snapped the power to silence
"Adam!” She was spraddling
with a rude hand, flinging around
into the saddle behind him, shout-
ing over the roar of the thin blade
to face her. "You knew —and still

saved me? Why?”


of energy that was enlarging the
“Because I needed you, and the
tunnel.
world needs you. You had to live,
"Go on, get away, Eve! You even if you killed me!”
can’t stop me!” Then the generator roared again,
"I don’t want to—they’re not knifing its way through the last few
ready for such machines as this, inches, and he swung but of the
yet ! And between us, we can re- dome and began turning it about.
build everything here, anyhow. As the savage bellow of full power
Adam ?” poured out of the main orifice, he
He grunted uneasily, unable to turned his head to her and nodded.
turn away from the needle beam. It She might be the dumbest robot
was hard enough trying to think in creation, but she was also the
without her distraction, knowing sweetest. It was wonderful to be
that he dared not take chances and needed and wanted!
must destroy himself, while her And behind him, Eve nodded to
words and the instincts within him herself, blessing Simon Ames for

ASTOUNDING SCIENCE-FICTION
NTO THY HANDS
! —
listingpsychology as a humanity. I still feel lie should be with us.”
In six months, she could complete “Perhaps he is, in spirit, since
his reeducation and still have time you insist robots have souls.
to recite the whole of the Book he Where’s your faith, Adam?”
knew as a snatch of film. But not But there was no mockery inside
yet Most certainly not Leviticus
!
her. Souls or not, Adam’s God had
yet Genesis would give her trouble
;
been very good to them.
enough.
And far to the south, an aged
It was wonderful to be needed
figure limped over rubble to the face
and wanted
of a cliff. Under bis hands, a
cleverly concealed door swung open,
Spring had come again, and and he pushed inward, closing and
Adam under one of the budding
sat barring it behind him, and heading
trees, idly feeding one of the new down the narrow tunnel to a
crop of piglets as Eve’s hands rounded cavern at its end. It had
moved swiftly, finishing what were been years since he had been there,
to be his clothes, carefully copied but the place was still home to him
from those of Dan. as he creaked down onto a bench
They were almost ready to go and began removing tattered, travel-
south and mingle with men in the stained clothes. Last of all, he
task of leading the race back to its pulled a mask and gray wig from his
heritage. Already the yielding head, to reveal the dented and worn
plastic he had synthesized and she body of the third robot.
had molded over them was a normal He sighed wearily as he glanced
part of them, and the tiny magnetic few tattered books and papers
at the
muscles he had installed no longer he had salvaged from the ruinous
needed thought to reveal their emo- growth of stalagmites and stalactites
tions in human expressions. He within the chamber, and at the cor-
might have been only an uncom- roded switch the unplanned damp-
monly handsome man as he stood up ness had shorted seven hundred
and went over to her. years before. And finally, his gaze
“Still hunting God?” she asked rested on his greatest treasure. It
lightly,but there was no worry on was faded, even under the plastic
her face. The metaphysical binge cover, but the bitter face of Simon
was long since cured.
Ames still gazed out in recognisable
A thoughtful smile grew on his form.
face as he began donning the clothes.
“He is still where I found Him
The third robot nodded toward

Something inside us that needs no it with a strange mixture of old


hunting. No, Eve, I was wishing familiarity and ever-new awe
the other robot had survived. Even “Over two thousand miles in my
though we found no trace of his condition, Simon Ames, to check on
dome where your records indicated, a story I heard in one of the
«« ASTOUNDING SCIENCE-FICT1 ON

colonies,and months of searching the last of my superfrozen human
for them. But I had to know. ova grew to success. Now I’ve clone
But they’re good for the world. my part. Man has an unbroken
They’ll bring all the things I tradition back to your race, with no
couldn’t, and their thoughts are knowledge of the break. He's
young and strong, as the race is strong and young and fruitful, and
young and strong.” he has new leaders, better than I
For a moment, he stared about could ever be alone. I can do no

the chamber and to the tunnel his more for him !”


adapted bacteria had eaten toward For a moment there was only
the outside world, resting again on the sound of his hands sliding
the picture. Then he cut off &e against metal, and then a faint sigh.
main generator and settled down in “Into my hands* Simon Ames, you
the darkness. gave your race. Now, into Thy
“Seven hundred years since I Hands, God of that race, if you
came out man extinct on the
to find exist as my brother believes, com-
T.

earth,” he muttered to the picture. —


mend him and my spirit.”
“Four hundred since I learned Then there was a click as his
enough to dare attempt his recrea- hands found the switch to his gen-
tion. and over three hundred since erator, and final silence.

THE END.

Try Thin Gillette and you’ll put in


That for tough beard and tender skin
This thrifty blade sure toms the trick
Gives easy, slick shaves— doable quick!

Produced By The Maker Of The Famous Gillette Blue Blade

.INTO. THY HANDS AST—3R 87


Pluto
by MURRAY LEINSTER
illustrated by Kramer

Far, far out on Pluto, where the


sun is only a very bright star and
a frozen, airless globe circles in
emptiness; far out on Pluto, there
was motion. The perpetual faint
starlight was abruptly broken. Yel-
low lights shone suddenly in a circle,
and men in spacesuits waddled to a

space tug absurdly marked Betsy-
Anne in huge white letters. They
climbed up its side and went in the
airlock. Presently a faint, jetting
glow appeared below its drivetubes.
It flared suddenly and the tug lifted,

It teas true that freight was put in the Pipeline's ships

on Earth and practically simultaneously freight was


taken out on Pluto. But — a fact many dupes didn't

understand —it didn't make an instantaneous trip.

ASTOUNDING SCIENCE FICTION


to hover expertly a brief distance radio-locator beam flickered invis-
above what seemed an unmarred ibly in emptiness. Presently its
field of frozen atmosphere. But that course clianged. It turned about.
field heaved and broke. The nose It braked violently, going up to six
of a Pipeline carrier appeared in the gravities deceleration for as long as
center of a cruciform opening. It half a minute at a time. Presently
thrust through. It stood half its it came to rest and there floated
length above the surface of the dead toward it an object from Earth,
and lifeless planet. The tug drifted a carrier with great white numerals
above it. Its grapnel dropped down, on its sides. It had been hauled off
jetted minute flames, and engaged Earth and flung into an orbit which
in the monster towring at the would fetch it out to Pluto. The
carrier’s bow. Betsy-Anne’s grapnel floated toward
The tug's drivetubes flared lur- it and jetted tiny sparks until the

idly. The carrier heaved abruptly %towring was engaged. Then the tug
up out of its hidingplace and and its new tow from Earth started
plunged for the heavens behind the back to Pluto.
tug. It had a huge classmark and There were two long lines of
number painted on its side, which white-numbered carriers floating
was barely visible as it whisked out sedately through space. One line
of sight. It went on up at four drifted tranquilly in to Earth. One
gravities acceleration, while the drifted no less tranquilly out past
spacetug lined out on the most pre- the orbits of six planets to reach the
cise of courses and drove fiercely closed-in, underground colony of
for emptiness. the mines on Pluto.
A long, long time later, when Together they made up the Pipe-
Pluto was barely a pallid disk be- line.
hind, the tug cast off. The carrier
went on, sunward. Its ringed nose The evening Moon-rocket took
pointed unwaveringly to the sun to- off over to the north and went
ward which it would drift for years. straight up to the zenith. Its blue-
It was one of a long, long line of white rocket-flare changed color as
carriers drifting through space, a it fell behind, until the tail-end was
day apart in time but millions of a deep, rich crimson. The Pipeline
miles apart in distance. They would docks were silent, now. but opposite
go on until a tug from Earth came the yard the row of flimsy eating-
out and grappled them, and towed and drinking-places rattled and
them in to their actual home planet. thuttered to themselves from the
But the Betsy- Anne, of Pluto, did lower-than-sound vibrations of the
not pause for contemplation of the Moon-ship.
two-billion-mile-long line of orecar- There was a youngish, battered
riers taking the metal of Pluto back man named Hill in the Pluto Bar,
to Earth. Itdarted off from the opposite the docks. He paid no at-
line its late tow now followed. Its tention to the Moon-rocket, but he

PIPELINE TO PLUTO 09

looked up sharply as a man came Crowder,” he said huskily. “That’s
out of the Pipeline gate and came you, ain’t it?”
across the street toward the bar. Crowder looked at him, his face
But Hill was staring at his drink instantly masklike. Hill’s looks
when the door opened and the man matched his voice. There was a
from the dock looked the small dive scar under one eye. He had a cauli-
over. —
Besides Hill who looked flower ear. He looked battered, and
definitely tough, and as if he had —
hard-boiled and as if he had just
but recently recovered from a ravag- recovered from some serious injury

ing illness there was only the bar- or illness. His skin was reddened
tender, a cata wheel-truck driver and in odd patches.
his girl having a drink together, and “My name is Crowder,” said
another man at a table by himself Crowder suspiciously. “What is
and fidgeting nervously as if he it?”
were waiting for someone. Hill’s Hill sat down opposite him.
eyes flickered again to the man in “My
name’s Hill,” he said in the .

the door. He looked suspicious. same husky voice. “There was a


But then he looked back at his guy who was gonna come here to-
glass. night. He’d fixed it up to be
The other man came in and went stowed away on a Pipeline carrier
to the bar. to Pluto. I bought ’im off. I
“Evenin’, Mr. Crowder,” said the bought his chance. I came here to
bartender. take his place.”
Hill’s eyes darted up, and down “I don’t know what you’re talk-
again. The bartender reached be- ing about,” said Crowder coldly.
low the bar, filled a glass, and slid
But he did. Hill could see that
itacross the mahogany.
“Evenin’,” said Crowder curtly.
he did. His stomach-muscles
He looked deliberately at the fidgety knotted. He was uneasy. Hill's
gaze grew scornful.
man. He seemed to note that the
fidgety man was alone. He gave no “You’re the night super of th’
sign of recognition, but his features Pipeline yards, ain’t you?” he de-
pinched a little, as some men’s do manded truculently.
when they feel a little, crawling un- Crowder’s face stayed masklike.
ease. But there was nothing wrong Hill looked tough. He looked like
except that the fidgety man seemed the sort of yegg who’d get into
to be upset because he was waiting trouble with the police because he’d
for someone who hadn’t come. never think things out ahead. He
Crowder sat down in a booth, knew it, and he didn’t care. Be-
alone. Hill waited a moment, looked cause he had gotten in trouble
sharply about him, and then stood —
often because he didn’t think
up. He crossed purposefully to the things out ahead. But he wasn’t
booth in which Crowder sat. that way tonight. He’d planned
“I’m lookin’ for a fella named tonight in detail.

ASTOUNDING SCIENCE-FICTION
“Sure I’m the night-superintend- payin’ five hundred credits a day
ent of Pipeline yards,” said
the in mines out on Pluto, ain’t
the
Crowder “I came over for
shortly. they ? A
guy works a year out
a drink. I’m going back. But I there, he comes. back rich, don’t
he?”
don’t know what you're talking “Sure!” said Crowder. “The
about.” wages got set by law when it cost
Hill’s eyes grew hard. a lot to ship supplies out. Before
“Listen, fella,” he said truculent- the Pipeline got going.”
ly — but he had been really ill, and “An’ they ain’t got enough guys
the sfgns of it were plain—“they’re to work, have they?”
“There’s a shortage,” agreed
Crowder coldly. “Everybody knows
it. The liners get fifty thousand
credits for a one-way passage, and
it takes six months for the trip.”
Hill nodded, truculently.
“I wanna get out to Pluto," he
said huskily. "See? They don’t
ask too many questions about a guy
when he turns up out there. But
the spaceliners, they do, an’ they
want too many credits. So I wanna
go out in a carrier bv Pipeline.
See?”
Ilill downed his drink and stood

up.
“There’s a law,” he said uncom-
promisingly, “that says the Pipe-
line can’t carry passengers or mail.
The spacelines jammed that through.
Politics.”
“Maybe,” said Hill pugnaciously,

P I PKMNH TO PLUTO 71

“but you promised to let a guy stow “there’s a Pipeline carrier leaves
away on the carrier tonight. He here every day for Pluto, an’ one
told me about it. I paid him off. comes in from Pluto every day. It’s
He sold me his place. I’m takin’ it, just like gettin’ on a ’copter an’ goin’
See ?” from one town to another on the
“Fm night superintendent at the Pipeline, ain’t it?”
yards,” Crowder told him. “If Moore nodded again this time —
there are arrangements for stow- almost unnoticeably.
aways, I don’t know about them. “That’s what a guy told me,” said
You’re talking to the wrong man.” Hill pugnaciously. “He said he'd
He abruptly left the table. He got it all fixed up to stow away on
walked across the room to the fidg- a carrier-load of grub. He said
ety man, who seemed more and he’d paid fifteen hundred credits to
more uneasy because somebody have it fixed up. He was gonna
hadn’t turned up. Crowder’s eyes leave tonight. I paid him off to let
were viciously angry when he bent me take his place. Now this guy
over the fidgety man. Crowder tells me I’m crazy!”
“Look here, Moore!” he said “I .wouldn’t know anything
. .

savagely, in a low tone. “That guy about it,” said Moore, hesitantly.
is on! He says he paid your pas- “I know Crowder, but that’s all.”
senger to let him take his place. Hill growled to himself. He
That’s why your man hasn’t showed doubled up his'fist and looked at it.
up. You picked him out and he sold It was a capable fist.There were
his place to this guy. So I’m leav- scars on it as proof that things had
ing it right in your lap! I can lie been hit with it.

myself dear. They couldn’t get “O.K. !” said Hill. “I guess that
any evidence back, anyhow. Not guy kidded me. He done me outta
for years yet. But what he told plenty credits. I know where to
!”
me is straight, he’s got to go or he’ll find him. He’s goin’ to a hospital
shoot off his mouth So jt’s in your
! He stirred, scowling.
lap!” “W-wait a minute,” said Moore.
The eyes of Moore the fidgety — “It seems
— to me I heard something,

man had a hunted look in them. once
He swallowed as if his mouth were
dry. But he nodded. Carriers dri f ted on through space.
Crowder went out. Hill scowled They were motorless, save for the
after him. After a moment he came tiny drives for the gyros in their
over to Moore. noses. They were a hundred feet
“Lookahere,” he said huskily. “I long, and twenty feet thick, and
wanna know somethin’. That guy’s some of them contained foodstuffs
night super for Pipeline, ain’t he?” in air-sealed containers because —
Moore nodded. He licked his everything will freeze, in space, hut
lips. even ice will evaporate in a vacuum.
“Lissen !” said Hill angrily. Some carried drums of rocket fuel
72 ASTOUNDING SCIENCE-FICTION

for the tugs and heaters and the while the screen remained blank.
generators for the mines on Pluto. The pugnacious, battered Hill
Some contained tools and books and scowled impatiently behind him.
visiphone records and caviar and “Pm not sure,” said Moore un-
explosives and glue and cosmetics easily. “I talked to somebody I
for the women on Pluto. But all thought might know something, but
of them drifted slowly, leisurely, they're cagey. They'd lose their
unhurriedly, upon their two-billion- jobs and maybe get in worse trou-
mile journey. ble if anybody finds out they’re
They were the Pipeline. You put smuggling stowaways to Pluto.
a carrier into the line at Earth, Y'see, the space lines have a big
headed out to Pluto. The same day pull in politics. They’ve got it
you took a carrier out of space at fixed so the Pipeline can’t haul any-
the end of the line, at Pluto. You thing but freight. If people could
put one into the Earth-bound line, travel by Pipeline, the space liners
on Pluto. You took one out of space 'ud go broke. So they watch close/'
the same day, on Earth. There was He looked uneasy as lie spoke.
continuous traffic between the two His eyes watched Hill almost
planets, with daily arrivals and de- alarmedly. But Hill said sourly:
partures from each. But passenger- "O.K.! I’m gonna find the guy
traffic between Earth and Pluto that sold me his place, an’ I’m
went by space liners, at a fare of gonna write a message on him with
fifty thousand credits for the trip. a blowtorch. The docs’ll have fun
Because even the liners took six readin’ him, an’ why lie’s in the
!”
months for the journey, and the hospital
Pipeline carriers — well, there were Moore swallowed.
over twelve hundred of them in each "Who was I’ve heard some-
line going each way, a day apart in thing
— it?

time and millions of miles apart in Hill bit oil the name. Moore
space. They were very lonely, those swallowed again —as if the name
long cylinders with their white- meant something. As if it were
painted numbers on their sides. The right.
stars were the only eyes to look "I . . tell you, guy,” said
. I’ll

upon the while they traveled, and it Moore. none of my business,


"It’s
took three years to drift from one but I well ... I might be
. . .

end of the pipeline to the other. able to fix things up for you. It’s
But nevertheless there were daily risky, though, butting in on some-
arrivals and departures on the Pipe- thing that ain’t my business
'* —
line, and there was continuous traf- "How much?” said Hill shortly.
fic between the two planets. “Oh . . . f-five hundred,” said
Moore uneasily.
Moore turned away from the I-Iill stared at him. Hard. Then
pay-visiphone, into which he had he pulled a roll out of his pocket.
talked in a confidential murmur He displayed it.
PIPELINE TO PLUTO TS

“I got credits," he said huskily. in infinity.Each of the specks was
"But I’m you just one hun-
givin’ a carrier. Each of the carriers was
dred of ’em. I'll give you nine motorless and inert. Each was un-
hundred more when I’m all set. lighted. Each was lifeless. But
That’s twice what you asked for. some of them had contained life
But tliat’s all, see? I got a reason when they started.
to get off Earth, an’ tonight, I’ll pay The last carrier out from Earth,
to manage it. But if I’m double- to be sure, contained nothing but
!”
crossed, somebody gets hurt its proper cargo of novelties, rocket
Moore grinned nervously. fuel, canned goods and plastic base.
"No double-crossing in this," he But in the one beyond that, there
said quickly. "Just . . . well . . . was what had been a hopeful stow-
it is ticklish." away. A man, with his possessions
"Yeah," said Hill. He waved a neatly piled about him. He’d been
battered-knuckled hand. "Get goin’. placed up in the nose of the carrier,
Tell those guys I’m willin’ to pay. and he’d waited, mousy-still, until
But I get stowed away, or I’ll fix the space tug connected with
that guy who sold me his place so the tow ring and heaved the carrier
he’ll tell all he knows! I’m goin’ out to the beginning of the Pipeline.
!’’
to Pluto, or else As a stowaway, he hadn’t wanted
Moore said cautiously: to be discovered. The carrier ahead
"M-maybe you’ll have to pay —
of that many millions of miles
out a little more . . . but not much f farther out —
contained two girls,
But you’ll get there! I’ve heard who had heard that stenographers
. . . heard, you understand
just were highly paid on Pluto, and that
. . that the gang here smuggles
. there were so few women that a
a fella into the Pipeline yard and girl might take her pick of hus-
up into the nose of a carrier. They bands. The one just before that
pick out a carrier loaded with grub. had a man and woman in it. There
Champagne and all that. He can were four men in the carrier beyond
live high on the way, and not worry them.
because out on Pluto they’re so The hundred- foot cylinders drift-
anxious to get a man to work that ing out and out and out toward
they’ll square things. They need Pluto contained many stowaways.
men liad, out on Pluto! They pay The newest of them still looked
five hundred credits a day!” quite human. They looked quite
"Yeah,” said Hill grimly. “They tranquil. After all, when a carrier
need ’em so bad there ain’t no is hauled aloft at four gravities ac-
extradition either. I’m int’rested celeration the air flows out of the
in that, too. Now get goin’ an’ fix bilge-valves very quickly, but the
me up!’’ cold comes in more quickly still.
None of the stowaways had actually
The Pipeline wasactually a two- suffocated. They’d frozen so sud-
billion-mile arrangement of specks denly they probably did not realize

74 ASTOUNDING SCIENCE-FICTION
: :

what was happening. At sixty thou- they bore. They moved quite
sand feet the temperature is around sedately, quite placidly, with a vast
seventy degrees below zero. At a leisure among the stars.
hundred and twenty thousand feet
it’s so cold that figures simply The battered youngish man said
haven't any meaning. And at four coldly
acceleration you reach a
gravities “Well? You fixed it?”
hundred and twenty thousand feet Moore grinned nervously.
before you’ve really grasped the “Yeah. It’s all fixed. At first
fact that you paid all your money they thought you might be an under-
to be flung unprotected into space. cover man for the passenger lines.*
So you never quite realize that trying to catch the Pipeline smug-
you're going on out into a vacuum gling passengers so they could
which will gradually draw every get its charter canceled. But they
atom of moisture from every tissue called up the man whose place you
of your body. took,and it’s straight. He said he
But, though there were many gave you his place and told you to
stowaways, not one had yet reached see Crowder.”
Pluto. They would do so in time, Hill said angrily
of course. But the practice of “But he stalled me!”
smuggling stowaways to Pluto had Moore licked his lips.

only been in operation for a year “You’ll get the picture in a min-
and a half. The first of the deluded ute. We cross the street and go
ones had not quite passed the half- in the Pipeline yard. You have to
way mark. So the stowaway busi- slip the guard something. hun- A
ness should be safe and profitable dred credits for looking the other
for at least a year and a half more. way.”
Then would be true that a pas-
it Hill growled:
senger entered the Pipeline from “No more stalling!”
Earth and a passenger reached “No more stalling,” promised
Pluto on the same day. But it Moore. “You go out to Pluto in
would not be the same passenger, the next carrier.”
and there would he other differ- They went out of the Pluto Bar.
ences. Even then, though, the They crossed the which was
street,
racket would simply stop being thin, black, churned-up mud from
profitable, because there was no the catawheel trucks which hauled
extradition either to or from Pluto. away each day’s arrival of freight
So the carriers drifting out from Pluto. They moved directly
through emptiness with their stow- and openly for the gateway. The
aways were rather ironic, in a way. guard strolled toward them.
There were tragedies within them, “Slim,” said Moore, grinning
and nothing could be done about nervously, “meet my friend Hill.”
them. It was ironic that the car- “Sure!” said the guard.
riers gave no sign of the freight He extended his hand, palm up.
PIPKLINB TO PLUTO 75
Hull put a hundred-credit note carrier coming back.”
in it. “That’s speed!” said Hill.
“O.K.,” said the guard. “Luck “Them scientists are great stuff,
on Pluto, £6113.“ huh ? I start off in that, an’ before
He turned liis back. Moore I know it I’m on Pluto!”
snickered almost hysterically and led “Yeah,” said Moore. He smirked
the way into the dark recesses of with a twitching, ghastly effect.
the yard. There was the landing “Before you know it. Here's the
field for the space tugs. There door where you go in.”
were six empty carriers off to one Crowder came around the other
side. There was one in a loading side of the carrier’s cone-shaped
pit, sunk down on a hydraulic plat- nose. He scowled at Hill, and Hill
form until only its nose now showed scowled back.
above-ground. It could be loaded “You sounded phony to me,” said
in its accelerating position, that way, Crowder ungraciously. “I wasn’t
and would not need to be upended going to take any chances by ad-
after reaching maximum weight. mitting anything. Moore told you
“Take-off is half an hour before
sunrise today,” said Moore jerkily.
“You'll know when it’s coming be-
cause the hydraulic platform shoves
the carrier up out of the pit. Then
you’ll hear the grapnel catching in
the tow ring. Then you start. The
tug puts you in the Pipeline and
hangs around and picks up the other

ASTOUNDING SCIENCE-FICTION
. ”

it's going to cost you extra?” thin’s happened an’ him an’ Moore
“For what?” demanded Hill, got their hands full.”
bristling. The guard blinked, and then came
“Because you’ve got to get away quickly. Hill hurried behind him
fast,” said Crowder evenly. “Be- to the loading pit. As the guard
cause there's no extradition from called tensely:
Pluto. We’re not in this for our “Hey, Crowder, what’s the mat-
health. Two thousand credits ter

more.” Hill swung the blackjack again,
Hilf snarled:

“Thief ” Then he said sullenly.
with a certain deft precision. The
guard collapsed.
“O.K.”
“And my nine hundred,” said A little later Hill had finished his
Moore eagerly.
work. The three men were bound
“Sure,” said Hill, sardonically.
with infinite science. They not only
He paid. “O.K. now? Whadda I
could not escape, they could not
do now?” even kick. That’s quite a trick —
“Go in the door here,” said
but it can be done if you study the
Crowder. “The cargo’s grub. Get art. And they were not only
comfortable and lay flat on your
gagged, but there was tape over
back when you feel the carrier com-
their mouths beyond the gag, so that
ing up to be hitched on for towing.
they could not even make a respect-
After the acceleration’s over and able groaning noise. And Hill sur-
you’re in the Pipeline, do as you
veyed the three of them by the light
please.”
of a candle he had taken from his
“Yeah!” Moore, giggling
said —
pocket as he had taken the rope
nervously. “Do just as you please.” —
from about his waist and said in
Hill said tonelessly:
husky satisfaction:
“Right. I’ll start now.”
He moved with a savage, in-
“O.K. O.K. ! Pm givin’ you
fellassome bad news. You’re
furiated swiftness. There was a
headin’ out to Pluto.”
queer, cracking sound.
muffled
Then a gasp from Moore, a
startled Terror close to madness shone in
moment’s -struggle, and another the three pairs of eyes which fixed
sharp crack. frantically upon him. The eyes
Hill went into the nose of the seemed to threaten to start from
carrier. He dragged them in. He their sockets.

stayed inside for minutes. He “It ain’t so bad,” said Hill grimly.
came out and listened, swinging a “Not like you think it is. You’ll get
leather blackjack meditatively. there before you know it. No
Then he went over to the gate. He kidding! You’ll go snakin’ up at
called cautiously to the guard four gravities, an’ the air’ll go out.
“You ! Slim Crowder says
! But you won’t die of that. Before
come quick —an’ quiet ! Some- you strangle, you’ll freeze an’ —
PIPELINE TO PL JTO 77
The first robot bram that tackled the problem went to pieces. The
second one they tried it on hit the same insoluble dilemma — but found a
n ay around it. An escape of a sort. But the —
men weren’t happy about it
Illustrated by Williams

Paradoxical Escape
by ISAAC ASIMOV
Robertson of U. S. Robot & Me- chief. Consolidated Robots ap-
chanical Men
Corp. pointed his lean proached us a month ago with a
nose at his general manager and funny sort of proposition. They
his Adam’s apple jumped as he brought about five tons of figures,
said, “You start now. Let’s get equations, all that sort of stuff. It

this straight.” was a problem, see, and they wanted


The general manager did so with an answer from The Brain. The
alacrity, “Here’s the deal now, terms as follows
”—
f .tK ADOXICAL ESC A P B 7»
fast! You’ll freeze so fast y’ won’t Pie looked at them in the candle-
have time to die, fellas. That’s the light, and seemed to take a vast
funny part. You freeze so quick satisfaction in their expressions.
you ain’t got time to die! The Then he blew out the candle, and
Space Patrol found out a year or closed the nose door of the carrier,
so back that that can happen, when and went away.

things are just right an’ they will And half an hour before sunrise
be, for you. So the Space Patrol next morning the hydraulic platform
will be all set to bring you back, pushed the carrier up, and a space
when y’ get to Pluto. But it does tug hung expertly overhead and its
hurt, fellas. It hurts like hell! I grapnel came down and hooked in
oughta know!” the tow ring, and then the carrier
He grinned at them, his mouth jerked skyward at four gravities
twisted and his eyes grim. acceleration.
“I paid you fellas to send me out
to Pluto last year. But it happened Far out from Earth, the carrier
I didn’t get to Pluto. The Patrol went on, the latest of a long line
dragged my carrier out o’ the Pipe- of specks in infinity which con-
line an’ over to Callisto because stituted the Pipeline to Pluto. Many
they liadda shortage o’ rocket fuel of those specks contained things
there. Sobeen through it, an’
I’ which had been human —and would
it hurts wouldn’t tell on you
! I be human again. But now each
fellas, because I wanted you to one drifted sedately away from the
have it, so I took my bawlin’ out sun, and in the later carriers the
for stowin’ away an’ come back to stowaways still looked completely
send you along. So you’ goin’, human and utterly tranquil. What
fellas An’ you’ goin’ all the way
! had happened to them had come
to Pluto! And remember this, so quickly that they did not realize
fellas It’s gonna be good
! After ! what it was. But in the last carrier
they bring you back, out there on of all, with three bound, gagged
Pluto, every fella an’ every soul you figures in its nose, the expressions
sent off as stowaways, they’ll be were not tranquil at all. Because
there on Pluto waitin’ for you It’s ! thosemen did know what had hap-
gonna be good, guys
!”
It’s gonna be
! —
pened to them. More they knew
good what was yet to come.

THE END.

’*} •* *

7* ASTOUNDING SCIENCE FICTION


: ” ” :

Heticked them off on thick fin- engine, and Consolidated and U. S.


gers: “A hundred thousand if there Robots have the lead on the field

isno solution and we can tell them with our super robot-brains. Now
what’s missing. Two hundred that they’ve managed to foul theirs
thousand if there is a solution, plus up, we have a clear field. That’s
costs of construction of the machine the nub, the . uh motiva-
. . . . .

involved, plus quarter.interest in all tion, It will take them six years at
profitsderived therefrom. The least to build another and they’re
problem concerns the development sunk, unless they can break ours,
of an interstellar engine
— too, with the same problem.”
Robertson frowned and his lean The president of U. S. Robots
figure seemed to stiffen. “That so ? bulged his eyes, “Why, the dirty
But hasn’t Consolidated a thinking rats

machine of its own?” “Hold There’s more
on, chief.
“Exactly what makes the whole to this.” He
pointed a finger with a
!”
proposition a foul ball, chief. Lev- wide sweep, “Lanning, take it
ver, take it from there.” Dr. Alfred Lanning, Director of
Abe Levver looked up from the the Research Division, viewed the
far end of the conference table proceedings with faint scorn his —
and smoothed his stubbled chin usual reaction to the doings of the
with a faint rasping sound. He and sales
vastly better-paid business
smiled divisions. His unbelievable gray
“It’s this way, sir. Consolidated eyebrows bunched low and his voice
does its best to crack down on our was dry

information service but we haven’t “From a scientific standpoint the
missed yet. We
didn’t miss this situation, while not entirely clear,
time, either. They had a thinking is subject to intelligent analysis.
machine. It’s broken.” The question of interstellar travel
“What?” Robertson half rose. under present conditions of physical
“That’s Broken!
right. It’s theory is uh . vague. The
. . . . .

kaput. Nobody knows why, but I matter is wide-open and the in- —
got hold of some pretty interesting formation given by Consolidated to
guesses —
like, for instance, that they its thinking machine, assuming these
asked it to give them an interstellar we have to be the same, was similar-
engine with the same set of in- ly wide-open. Our mathematical
formation they came to us with, department has given it a thorough
and that it cracked their machine analysis, and it seems Consolidated
wide open.
now.”
It’s scrap —
just scrap has included everything. Its mate-
rial for submission contains all
-

“Yon get it, chief?” The gen- known developments of Franciacci’s


eral manager was wildly jubilant. space- warp theory, and, apparently,
“You get it? There isn’t an indus- all pertinent astropbysical and elec-
trial research group of any size that tronic data. It’s quite a mouthful.”
isn’t trying to develop a space-warp Robertson followed anxiously.

ASTOnNDINfl SCIKNCE-FICTION
He interrupted, "Too much for The woman next to him, and Dr. Susan
Brain to handle ?” Calvin lifted her eyes from her
Lanning shook his head decisively, precisely folded hands for the first
“No. There are no known limits time. Her voice was low and color-
to The Brain’s capacity. It’s a dif- less.
ferent matter. It's a question of “The nature of a robot reaction
the Robotic Laws. You know them, to a dilemma is startling,” she be-
I suppose.” It was a statement. gan. “Robot psychology is far from
“Oh, yes! Yes!” Robertson —
perfect as a specialist, I can assure
slurred them out rapidly. “One: you of that —
but it can be discussed
A robot may not, by action, or in qualitative terms, because with air
through inaction, harm a human the complications introduced into a
being. Two: A robot must obey robot’s positronic brain, it is built
orders given by authorized human by humans and therefore built
is

personnel, except where this would according to human values.


conflict with Rule One. Three A : “Now a human caught in an im-
robot must protect its own existence possibility often responds by a re-
except where this ^vould conflict treat from reality: by entry into a
with Rules One and Two.” world of delusion, or by taking to
“Um-m-m," Lanning went on, drink, going off into hysteria, or
“those rules are fundamental to jumping off a bridge. It all comes
robotics. The Brain, for instance, to the same thing —
a refusal or in-
could never supply a solution to a ability to face the situation square-
problem set to it that would involve ly. And so, the robot. dilemma A
the death or injury to humans. As at its mildest will disorder half its
far as it would be concerned, a prob- relays ; and at its worst it will burn
lem with only such a solution would out every positronic brain path past
be insoluble. If such a problem is repair.”
combined with an extremely urgent “I Robertson, who
see,” said
demand that it be answered, it is didn’t. “Now what about this in-
just possible that The Brain, only formation Consolidated’s wishing
a robot after all, would be presented on us?”
with a dilemma, where it could “It undoubtedly involves,” said
neither answer nor refuse to answer. Dr. Calvin, “a problem of a forbid-
Something of the sort must have den sort. But The Brain is con-
Happened to Consolidated’s ma- siderably different from Consoli-
chine.” dated’s robot.”
He paused, but the general man- “That’s right, chief. That’s
ager urged on, “Go ahead, Dr. Lan- right,” The general manager was
ning. Explain it the way you ex- energetically interruptive. “I want
plained it to me.” you to get this, because it’s the
whole point of the situation.”
Lanning set his lips and raised his Susan Calvin’s eyes glittered be-
eyebrows in the direction of the hind the spectacles, and she con-

PARADOXICAL ESCAPE
a

tinued patiently, “You see, sir, Con- conceivable use in presenting the
solidated’s machines, their Super- mathematics of this. I assure you,
Thinker among them, are built it isas I say.”
without personality. They go in The general manager was in the
for functionalism, you know they — breach instantly and fluently, “So
have to, without U. S. Robot’s basic here’s the situation, chief. If we
patents for the emotional brain- take the deal, we can put it through
paths. Their Thinker is merely a like this. The Brain will tell us
calculating machine on a grand which unit of information involves
scale, and a dilemma ruins it in- the dilemma. From there, we can
stantly. figure why the dilemma. Isn’t that
“However, The Brain, our own right, Dr. Bogert? There you are,
machine, has a personality — chief, and Dr. Bogert is the best
child’s personality. It is a supreme- mathematician you’ll find anywhere.
ly deductive brain, but it resembles We give Consolidated a ‘No Solu-
an idiot savante. It doesn’t really tion’s answer, with the reason, and
understand what it does — it just collect a hundred thousand. They’re
does it. And because it is really a left with a broken machine; we’re
more resilient. Life isn’t
child, it is left with a whole one. In a year,
so serious, you might say.” two maybe, we’ll have a space-warp
The robot-psychologist smiled —
engine the biggest thing in the
briefly at her own cautious flight world. How about it?”
into gentle metaphor, and continued Robertson chuckled and reached
in more businesslike fashion: out, “Let’s see the contract. I’ll

“Here is what we’re going to do. sign it.”


We have divided all of Consoli-
dated’s information into logical When Susan Calvin entered the
units. We’re going to feed the units fantastically-guarded vault that held
to The Brain singly and cautiously. The Brain, one of the current shift
When the factor enters the one — of technicians had just asked it:
that createst the dilemma The — “If one and a half chickens lay one
Brain’s child personality will hesi- and a half eggs in one and a half
tate. Its sense of judgment is not days, how many eggs will nine
mature. There will be a perceptible chickens lay in nine days?”
interval before it will recognize a The Brain 'had just answered,
dilemma as such. And in that “fifty-four.”
interval, it will reject the unit auto- And the technician had just said
matically —before its brain-paths you dope!”
to another, “See,
can be set in motion and ruined.” Dr. Calvin coughed and there
Robertson’s Adam’s apple was a sudden impossible flurry of
squirmed, “Are you sure, now?” directionless energy. The psychol-
Dr. Calvin masked impatience, ogist motioned briefly, and she ms
“It doesn't make much sense, I ad- alone withThe Brain.
mit, in lay language but there is no
; The Brain was a two-foot globe

8» ASTOUNDING SCIENCE-FICTION

merely one which contained within Dr. Calvin smiled mildly, “Well,
it a thoroughly conditioned helium you’re right, but not just yet. This
atmosphere, a volume of space com- is going to be some question. It
pletely vibration-absent and radia- will be so complicated we’re going
tion-free — and within that was that to give it to you in writing. But
unheard-of complexity of positronic not just yet. I think I’ll talk to
brain-paths that was The Brain. you first.”
The rest of the room was crowded “All right. I don’t mind talking.”
with the attachments that were the “Now, Brain, in a little while, Dr.
intermediaries between The Brain Lanning and Dr. Bogert will be

and the outside world its voice, its here with this complicated question.
arms, its sense organs. We’ll give it to you a very little at
Dr. Calvin said softly, “How are a time and very slowly, because we
you, Brain?” want you to be careful. We’re go-
The Brain’s voice was high- ing to ask you to build something,
pitched and enthusiastic, “Swell, if you can, eut of the information,
Miss Susan. You’re going to ask but I'm going to warn you now that
me something. T can tell. You al- the solution might involve uh . . .

ways have a book in your hand . . . damage to human beings.”


when you’re going to ask me some- “Gosh!” The exclamation was
thing.” hushed, drawn-out.

r A It A D O X I C A L ESCAPE KH
” ” ” —
you watch for that. When
“Now “Oh, that ! I can do it. I'll build

we come to a sheet which means you a whole ship, just as easy if —


damage, even maybe death, don’t you let me have the robots. A nice
get excited. You see, Brain, in this ship. It’ll take two months maybe/'
case, we don’t mind —not even —
“There was no difficulty?”
about death ;
we don’t mind at all. “It took long to figure,” said The
So when you come to that sheet, Brain.
just stop, give it back and — that’ll Dr. Calvin backed away. The
be all. You understand?” color had not returned to her thin
“Oh, sure. But, golly, the death cheeks. She motioned the others
of humans Oh, my !”
! away.
“Now, Brain, I hear Dr. Lanning
and Dr. Bogert coming. They’ll tell In her office, she said, “I can’t
you what the problem is all about understand it. The information, as
and then we’ll start. Be a good given, must involve a dilemma
boy, now — probably involves death. If some-
Slowly the sheets were fed in. thing has gone wrong —
After each one came the interval of Bogert said quietly, “The ma-
the queerly wbispery chuckling chine talks and makes sense. It
noise that was The Brain in action. can’t be in a dilemma.”
Then the silence that meant readi- But the psychologist replied
ness for another sheet. It was a urgently, “There are dilemmas and

matter of hours during which the dilemmas. There are different
equivalent of something like seven- forms of escape. Suppose The
teen fat volumes of mathematical Brain is only mildly caught; just
physics were fed into The Brain. badly enough, say, to be suffering
As the process went on, frowns from the delusion that he can solve
appeared and deepened. Lanning the problem, when he can't. Or
muttered ferociously under his suppose it’s teetering on the brink
breath. Bogert first gazed specula- of something really bad, so that
tively at his fingernails, and then any small push shoves it over.”
bit at them in abstracted fashion. “Suppose,” said Lanning, “there
It was when the last of the thick is no dilemma. Suppose Consoli-
pile of sheets disappeared that Cal- dated's machine broke down over a
vin, white-faced, said: different question, or broke down
“Something's wrong.” for purely mechanical reasons.”
Lanning barely got the words out, “But even so,” insisted Calvin,
“It can’t be. Is it dead?” — “we couldn’t take chances. Listen,
“Brain?” Susan Calvin was from now on, no one is to as much
trembling. “Do you hear me, as breathe to The Brain. I'm tak-
Brain ?” ing over.”
“Huh?” came the abstracted re- “All right,” sighed Lanning,
joinder. “Do you want me?” “take over, then. And meanwhile
“The solution — we’ll let The Brain build its ship.

Bi ASTOUNDING SC IBNCE -PICT ION


;

And if it does build it, we’ll have For Lanning said, “The robots
to test it.” have stopped. Not one has moved
He was ruminating, “We’ll need today.”
our top field men for that” "It’s completed then? Definite-
ly?” asked Powell.
Michael Donovan brushed down “Now how can I tell?” Lanning
motion
his red hair with a violent was peevish, and his eyebrows
of his hand and a total indifference curled down in an eye-hiding frown.
to the fact that the unruly mass “It seems done. There are no spare
'sprang to attention again immedi- pieces about, and the interior is
ately. down to a gleaming finish.”
He said, “Call the turn now, “You’ve been inside?”
Greg. They say the ship is finished. "Just in, then out. I’m no space-
They don’t know what it is, but it’s pilot. Either of you two know
finished. Let’s go, Greg. Let’s much about engine theory?”
grab the controls right now.” Donovan looked at Powell, who
Powell said wearily, “Cut it, looked at Donovan.
Mike. There’s a peculiar overripe Donovan said, “I’ve got my
flavor to your huinor at its freshest, license,sir, but at last reading it
and the confined atmosphere here didn’t say anything about hyper-
isn’t helping it.” engines or warp-navigation. Just
“Well, listen,” Donovan took an- the usual child’s play in three di-
other ineffectual swipe at his hair, mensions.”
“I’m not worried so much about Alfred Lanning looked up with
our cast-iron genius and his tin sharp disapproval and snorted the
ship. There’s the matter of my lost length of his prominent nose.
leave. And the monotony There’s ! He said frigidly, “Well, we have
nothing here hut whiskers and fig- our engine men.”

ures the wrong kind of figures. Powell caught at his elbow as he
Oh, why do they give us these walked away, “Sir, is the ship still

jobs?” restricted ground?”


“Because,” replied Powell, gent- The old director hesitated, then
ly, “we're no loss, if they lose us. rubbed the bridge of his nose, “1
O.K. relax Doc Lanning’s coming
! suppose not. For you two, any-
this way.” way.”
Lanning was coming, his gray Donovan looked after him as he
.eyebrows as lavish as ever, his aged left and muttered a short, expres-
figure unbent as yet and full of sive phrase at his back. He turned
life. He walked silently up the to Powell, “I’d like to give him a
ramp with the two men and out literary description of himself,
into theopen field, where, obeying Greg.”
no human master, silent robots were “Suppose you^ome along, Mike.”
building a ship. The inside of the ship was fin-
Wrong tense! Had built a ship! ished, as finished as a ship ever was

PARADOXICAL. ESCAPE so
that could be told in a single eye- “Sure you don’t want to look it

blinking glance. No martinet in the over a bit?”


System could have put as much spit- “I have looked it over. I came,
and-polish into a surface as those I saw, I’m through!” Donovan's
robots had. The walls were of a red hair bristled into separate wires.
gleaming silvery finish that retained “Greg, let’s get out of here. I quit
no fingerprints. my job five seconds ago, and this
There were no angles ; walls, is a restricted area for nonperson-

floors, and ceiling faded gently into nel.”


each other and in the cold, metallic Powell smiled in an oily, self-
glittering of the hidden lights, one satisfied manner and smoothed his
was surrounded by six chilly reflec- mustache, “O.K., Mike, turn off
tions of one’s bewildered self. that adrenalin tap you’ve got drain-
The main
corridor was a narrow ing into your bloodstream. I was
tunnel that led in a hard, clatter- worried, too, but no more.”
tooted stretch along a line of rooms “No more, huh? Flow come, no
?”
of tio interdistinguishing features. more? Increased your insurance
Powell said, “I suppose furniture “Mike, this ship can’t fly.”
is built into the wall. Or maybe “How do you know ?”
we're not supposed to sit or sleep.” “Well, we’ve been through the
It was in the last room, the one entire ship, haven’t we?”
nearest the nose that the monotony “Seems so.”
broke. A
curving window of non- “Take my word for it, we have.
reflecting glass was the first break Did you see any pilot room except
in the universal metal, and below for this one port and the one gauge
it was a single large dial, with a here in parsecs? Did you see any
single motionless needle hard controls ?”
against the zero mark. “No.”
Donovan said, “Look at that!” “And did you see any engines?”
and pointed to the single word on “Holy Joe, no!”
the finely-marked scale. “Well, then! Let’s break the
It said “Parsecs” and the tiny news to Lanning, Mike.”
figure at the right end of the curv- They cursed their way through
ing, graduated meter said “1,000,- the featureless corridors and finally
000 .” hit-and-inissed their way into the
There were two chairs; heavy, short passage to the air lock.
wide-flaring, uncushioned. Powell Donovan stiffened, “Did you lock
seated himself gingerly, and found Greg?”
this thing,
it molded to the body’s curves, and “No, I never touched it. Yank
comfortable. the lever, will you ?”
Powell said, “What do you think The lever never budged, though
of it?” Donovan’s face twisted appallingly
“For my money, The Brain has with exertion.
brain- fever. Let’s get out.” Powell said, “I didn’t see any
8* ASTOUNDING SCIIONCEFrCTION

emergency exits. If something’s on yet. And you see, until we know


gone wrong here, they’ll have to what’s wrong, we must just tiptoe
melt us out.” our way through. I can never tell
“Yes, and we’ve got to wait until what simple question or remark will
they find out that some fool has just . push him over
. .
and . . .

locked us in here,” added Donovan, then —Well, and then we’ll have
frantically. on our hands a completely useless
“Let’s get back to the room with Brain. Do you want to face that ?”
the port. It’s the only place from “Well, it can’t break the First
which we might attract attention.” Law.”
But they didn’t. “I would have thought so, but—”
In that last room, the port was no “You’re not even sure of that?”
longer blue and full of sky. It was Lanning was profoundly shocked.
black, and hard yellow pin-point “Oh, I can’t be sure of anything,
stars spelled space. Alfred

There was a dull, double thud, The alarm system raised its fear-
as two bodies collapsed separately ful clangor with a horrifying sud-
into two chairs. denness. Lanning clicked on com-
munications with an almost paralytic
Alfred Lanning met Dr. Calvin spasm. The breathless words froze
just outside his office. He lit a him.
nervous cigar and motioned her in. He said, “Susan . . . you heard
He said, “Well, Susan-, we’ve that . . . the ship’s gone. I sent
come pretty far, and Robertson’s those two field men inside half an
getting jumpy. What are you do- hour ago. You’ll have to see The
ing with The Brain?” Brain again.”
Susan Calvin spread her hands,
“It’s no use getting impatient. The Susan Calvin said with enforced
Brain is worth more than anything calm, “Brain, what has happened to
we forfeit on this deal.” the ship?”
“But you’ve been questioning it The Brain said happily, “The
fortwo months.” ship I built, Miss Susan?”
The psychologist’s voice was flat, “That’s right. What has hap-
but somehow dangerous, “You
pened to it?”
would rather run this yourself.”
“Now you know what I mean.” “Why, nothing at all. The two
“Oh, I suppose I do.” Dr. Cal-
men that were supposed to test it
vin rubbed her hands nervously.
were inside, and we were all set.
“It isn’t easy. I’ve been pampering
So I sent it off.”

it and probing it gently, and I “Oh —


Well, that’s nice.” The
haven’t gotten anywhere yet. Its psychologist felt some difficulty in
reactions aren’t normal. Its an- breathing, “Do you think they’ll be

swers they’re queer, somehow. all right?”
But nothing I can put my finger “Right as anything, Miss Susan.

PABADOXICAL ESCAPE #7
I've taken care of it all. It’s a bee- them. Let’s do so, get their loca-
yoo-tiful ship.” tion,and bring them back. They
“Yes, Brain, it is beautiful, but probably can’t use the controls
you think they have enough food, themselves; The Brain is probably
don’t you? They’ll be comfort- handling them remotely. Come!”
able ?”
“Plenty of food.” It was quite a while before Powel!
“This business might be a shock shook himself together.
to them. Brain. Unexpected, you “Mike,” he said, out of cold lips,
know.” “did you feel any acceleration?”
The Brain tossed it off, “They’ll Donovan’s eyes were blank,
be all right. It ought to be interest- “Huh? No .no.”
. .

ing for them.” And then the redhead’s fists


“Interesting ? How
?” clenched and he was out of his seat
“Just interesting,” said The with sudden frenzied energy and
Brain, slyly. up against the cold, wide-curving
“Susan,” whispered Lanning in a glass. There was nothing to see—
fuming whisper, “ask him if death but stars.
comes into it. Ask him what the He turned, “Greg, they must
dangers are.” have started the machine while wt
Susan Calvin’s expression con- were inside. Greg, it's a put-up
torted with fury, “Keep quiet !” In job they fixed it up with the robot
;

a shaken voice, she said to The to jerry us into being the try-out
Brain. “We can communicate with boys, in case we were thinking of
the ship, can’t we, Brain?” backing out.”
“Oh, they can hear you if you Powell said, “What are you talk-
call by radio. I’ve taken care of ing about? What’s the good of
that.” sending us out if we don’t know
“Thanks. That’s all for now.” how to run the machine ? How are
Once outside, Lanning lashed out we supposed to bring it back? No,
ragingly, “Great Galaxy, Susan, if
this ship leftby itself, and with-
this gets out, it will ruin all of us.
out any apparent acceleration.” He
We’ve got to get those men
back.
rose, and walked the floor slowly.

Why didn't you ask there was


it if
The metal walls dinned back the
danger of death —straight out.”
clangor of his steps.
He said tonelessly, “Mike, this
“Because,” said Calvin, with a
weary frustration, “that’s just what is the most confusing situation

I can't mention. If it’s got a case we’ve ever been up against.”


of dilemma, it’s about death. Any- “That,” said Donovan, bitterly,
thing that would bring it up badly “is news to me. I was just begin-
might knock it completely out. Will ning to have a very swell time, when
we be better off then? Now, look, you told me.”
it said we could communicate with Powell ignored that. “No ac-

as ASTOUNDING S0 1 ENC E- PI C?ION


celeration —
which means the ship explanation to this.”
works on a principle different from "Oh sure, sure. Just have the
any known.” butler call me in the morning. It's
"Different from any we know, all just too, too simple for me to
anyway.” bother about before my beauty
"Different from any known. nap.”
There are no engines within reach "Well, Jupiter, Mike, what arc
of manual control. Maybe they’re you complaining about so far ? The
built into the walls. Maybe that’s Brain is taking care of us. This
why they’re thick as they are.” place is warm. It’s got light. It’s
"What you
are mumbling got air. There wasn’t even enough
about?” demanded Donovan. of an acceleration jar to muss your
"Why not listen? I’m saying hair if it were smooth enough to be
that whatever powers this ship is mussable in the first place.”
enclosed, and evidently not meant "Yeah ? Greg, you must’ve taken
to be handled. The ship is running lessons. No one could put Polly-
by remote control.” anna that far out of the running
"The Brain’s control?” without. What do we eat? What
"Why not?” do we drink? Where are we?
"Then you think we’ll stay out How do we get back ? And in case
here till The Brain brings us back.” of accident, to what exit and in
"It could be. If so, let’s wait what spacesuit do we run, not walk ?
The Brain a robot. I haven't even seen a bathroom in
quietly. is It’s

got to follow the First Law. It the place, or those little conven-
can't hurt a human being.” iences that go along with bathrooms.

Donovan satdown slowly, “You Sure, we’re being taken care of —


but good!”
figure that?” Carefully, he flattened
his hair, "Listen, this junk about The voice that interrupted Dono-
the space-warp knocked out Con- van’s tirade was not Powell’s. It

solidated’s robot, and the long- was nobody’s. It was there, hang-
hairs said it was because interstellar ing in open air stentorian ami —
travel killed humans. Which robot petrifying in its effects.

are you going to trust? Ours had "GREGORY POWELL!


the same data, I understand.” MICHAEL DONOVAN GREG- !

Powell was yanking madly at his ORY POWELL! MICHAEL


mustache, "Don’t pretend you don’t DONOVAN! PLEASE RE-
know your robotics, Mike. Before PORT YOUR PRESENT POSI-
it’s physically possible in any way TIONS. IF YOUR SHIP. AN-
for a robot to even make a start to SWERS CONTROLS, PLEASE
breaking the First Law, so many RETURN TO BASE. GREG-
ORY POWELL! MICHAEL
things have to break down that it
would be a ruined mess of scrap ten DONOVAN !

times over. There’s some simple The message was repetitious,

PARADOXICAL ESCAPE $9
ASTOUNDING SCIBNCB-FICTION

mechanical, broken by regular, un- They divided in the corridor to


tiring intervals. the right and left. They could fol-
Donovan said, "Where’s it com- low one another by the hard foot-
ing from?” steps resounding, and they met oc-
“I don’t know.” Powell’s voice casionally in the corridor, where
was an "Where do
intense whisper, they would glare at each other and
the lights come from ? Where does pass on.
anything come from?” Powell’s search ended suddenly
"Well, how are we going to an- and as it did, he heard Donovan’s
swer?” They had to speak in the glad voice rise boomingly.
intervals between the loudly echo- "Hey, Greg,” it howled, "the ship
ing, repeating message. lias got plumbing. How did we
The —
walls were bare as bare and miss it?”
as unbroken as smooth, curving It was some five minutes later
metal can be. Powell said, "Shout that he found Powell by hit-and-
an answer.” miss. He was saying, "Still no
They did. They
shouted, in shower baths, though,” but it got
turns, and together, "Position un- choked off in the middle.
known ! Ship out of control ! Con- "Food,” he gasped.
dition desperate!” The wall had dropped away,
Their voices rose and cracked. leaving a curved gap with two
The short businesslike sentences be- shelves. The upper shelf was
came interlarded and adulterated loaded with unlabeled cans of a be-
with screaming and emphatic pro- wildering variety of sizes and
fanity, but the cold, calling voice shapes. The enameled cans on the
repeated and repeated and repeated lower shelf were uniform and
unwearyingly. Donovan felt a cold draft about his
"They don’t hear us,” gasped ankles. The lower half was refrig-
no sending
Donovan. “There’s
mechanism. Just a receiver.” His
erated.
"How . . . how —
eyes focused blindly at a random "It wasn’t there, before,” said
spot on the wall. Powell, curtly. "That wall section
Slowly the din of the outside voice dropped out of sight as I came in
softened and receded. They called the door.”
again when it was a whisper, and He was eating. The can was the
they called again, hoarsely, when pre-heating type with inclosed spoon
there was silence. and the warm odor of baked beans
Something like fifteen minutes filled the room. "Grab a can.
later, Powell said lifelessly, "Let’s Mike!”
go through the ship again. There Donovan hesitated, "What’s the
must be something to eat some- menu ?”
wheres.” He did not sound hope- "How do I know ! Are you
ful. It was almost an admission of finicky?”
defeat. "No, but all I eat on ships are

pakadoxical hscapb
'

beans. Something else would be ing wearily, “They won’t answer.


first choice." His hand hovered We’ve tried every wavelength, pub-
and selected a shining elliptical can lic, private, coded, straight, even
whose flatness seemed reminiscent this sub-ether stuff they have now.
of salmon or similar delicacy. It And The Brain still won’t say any-
opened at the proper pressure. thing?” He shot this at Dr. Calvin.
“Beans!" howled Donovan, and “It won't amplify on the matter,
reached for another. Powell hauled Alfred,” she said, emphatically. “It
at the slack of his pants. “Better says they can hear us and when
. . .

eat that, sonny boy. Supplies are I try to press it, it becomes . . .

limited and we may be here a long, well, it becomes sullen. And it’s

long time." not supposed to — Whoever heard


Donovan drew back sulkily, “Is of a sullen robot?”
that all we have? Beans?" “Suppose you tell us what you
“Could be." have, Susan,” said Bogert.
“What’s on the lower shelf?" “Here it is! It admits it con-
“Milk." trols the ship itself entirely. It is

“Just milk?" Donovan cried in definitely optimistic about their


outrage. safety, but without details. I don’t
“Looks it." dare press it. However, the center
The meal of beans and milk was of disturbance seems to be about
carried through in silence, and as the interstellar jump itself. The
they left, the strip of hidden wall Brain definitely laughed when I
rose up and formed an unbroken brought up the subject. There are
surface once more. other indications, but that is the
Powell sighed, “Everything auto- closest it’s come to an open abnor-
matic. Everything just so. Never mality.”
felt so helpless in my life. Where’s She looked at the others, “I refer
your plumbing?" to hysteria. I dropped the subject
“Right there. And that wasn’t immediately, and I hope I did no
among those present when we first harm, but it gave me a lead. I can
looked, either." handle hysteria. Give me twelve
Fifteen minutes later they were hours! If I can bring it back to
back in the glassed-in room, staring normal, it will bring back the ship.”
at each other from opposing seats. Bogert seemed suddenly stricken.
Powell looked gloomily at the “The interstellar jump !”
one gauge in the room. It still said “What’s the matter?" The cry
“parsecs,” the figures still ended in was double from Calvin and Lan-
“1, OCX),000" and the indicating ning.
needle was still pressed hard “The figures for the engine The
against the zero mark. Brain gave us. Say ... I just
In the innermost offices of the thought of something,"
United States Robot & Mechanical He left hurriedly.
Men Corp. Alfred Lanning was say- Lanning gazed after him. He said

$2 ASTOUNDING SCIEN CE-PICTION


” — ”

brusquely to Calvin, “You take care ing. It’s pretty bad. There’s not
of your end, Susan.” much to do —except walk around
or talk to yourself. You know
Two Bogert was talk-
hours later, those stories about guys marooned
ing eagerly, “I tel! you, Lanning, in space. They go nuts long before
that's it. The interstellar jump is they starve. I don’t know, Greg,
not instantaneous —not as long as but ever since the lights went on,
the speed of light is finite. Life can’t I feel funny.”
exist .matter and energy as such
. . There was a silence, then Powell’s
can't exist in the space warp. I voicecame thin and small, “So do I.
don’t know what it would be like What’s it like?”
but that’s it. That’s what killed The red-headed figure turned,
Consolidated’s robot.” “Feel funny inside. There’s a
pounding in me with everything
Donovan felt as haggard as he tense. It’s hard to breathe. J can’t

looked, “Only five days?” stand still.”


“Only five days. I’m sure of it.” “Um-m-m. Do you feel vibra-
Donovan looked about him tion?”
wretchedly. The stars through the “How do you mean?”
glass were familiar but infinitely in- “Sit down for a minute and lis-

different. The walls were cold to ten. You don’t hear it, but you feel
the touch the lights, which had re-
; it—as if something’s throbbing
cently flared up again, were unfeel- somewheres and it’s throbbing the
ingly bright the needle on the gauge whole ship, and you, too, along with
;

pointed stubbornly to zero ; and it. Listen



Donovan could not get rid of the “Yeah . . . yeah. What do you
taste of beans. think it is, Greg? You don’t sup-
He morsely, “I need a bath.”
said, pose us?”
it’s

Powell looked up briefly, and said, “It might be,” Powell stroked his
“So do I. You needn’t fee! self- mustache slowly. “But it might be
conscious. But unless you want to the ship’s engines. It might be
bathe in milk and do without drink- getting ready.”
ing— “For what?”
"We’ll do without drinking even- “For the interstellar jump. It
tually, anyway. Greg, where does may be coming and the devil knows
this interstellar travel come in?” what it’s like.”

“You tell me. Maybe we just Donovan pondered. Then be said,


keep on going. We’d get there, savagely, “If it does, let it. But 1

eventually. At least the dust of our wish we could fight. It’s humiliat-

skeletons would but isn’t our death ing to have to-wait for it.”
the whole point of The Brain’s An hour later, perhaps, Powell
breakdown
original ?” looked at his hand on the metal
Donovan spoke with his back to chair-arm and said with frozen calm.
the other, “Greg, I’ve been think- “Feel the wall, Mike.”

I'Alt ADOXICAL J28CAFE •3


!— : ” ” — ” : V ! —
” ;

Donovan did, and said, “You can enriched with Vitamin 151. Use
shake, Greg.”
feel it Cadaver’s caskets ior comfort. Re-
Even the stars seemed blurred. — —
member you’re going to be — —
From somewhere came the vague — —— —
dead a long long time —
impression of a huge machine gath- It wasn’t quite sound, but what-
ering power with the walls, storing ever it was, it died away in an oily
up energy for a mighty leap, throb- rumbling whisper.
bing its way up the scales of
strength. The white thread that might have
It came with a suddenness and been Powell heaved uselessly at the
a stab of pain. Powell stiffened insubstantial cons of time that ex-
and half-jerked from his chair. His isted all about him —
and collapsed
sight caught Donovan and blanked upon itself as the piercing shriek of
out while Donovan’s thin shout a hundred million ghosts of a hun-
whimpered and died in his ears. dred million soprano voices rose to
Something writhed within him and a crescendo of melody
struggled against a growing blanket “I’ll be glad when you're dead,
of ice, that thickened. you rascal, you.
Something broke loose and “I’ll be glad when you’re dead,
whirled in a blaze of flickering light you rascal, you.
and pain. It fell “I’ll be glad
— ’’


and whirled It up a spiral stairway of
rose

and fell headlong violent sound into the keening
—into silence supersonics that passed hearing, and
It was death! then beyond
It was a world of no motion and
no sensation. A world of dim, un-
The white thread quivered with a
pulsating pang. It strained quietly
sensing consciousness; a conscious-
ness of darkness and of silence and
The voices were ordinary and —
many. It was a crowd speaking
of formless struggle.
a swirling mob that swept through
Most of all a consciousness of
and past and over him with a rapid,,
eternity.
headlong motion, that left drifting
He was a tiny white thread of ego tatters of words behind them.
— cold and afraid. “What did they getcha for, boy?
Y’look banged up

Then
the words came, unctuous
and sonorous, thundering over him ——
“ a hot fire. I guess, but I got

in a foam of sound
a case

“Does your coffin fit differently


" — — made
I’ve Paradise, but old

lately? Why not try Morbid M. St. Pete


Cadaver’s extensible caskets? They “Naaah, I got a pull with the
are scientifically designed to fit the boy. Had dealings with him—*'
natural curves of the body, and are “Hey, Sam, come this way—
•4 ASTOTJNDINtt S» C I BMC lit - 1 CT ION
” ”

“Ja get a mouthpiece? Beelzebub It all exploded into a rainbow


says
— of sound that dripped its fragments
“ —Going- on, my good—imp? My onto an aching brain.
appointment is with Sa Powell was in the chair, again.
And above it all, the original He felt himself shaking.
stentorian roar, that plunged across Donovan’s eyes were opening into
all: two large popping bowls of glazed
“HURRY HURRY! HURRY!
! blue.
Stir your bones, and don’t keep us “Greg,” he whispered in what was
waiting —there are many more in almost a sob. “Were you dead?”
line. Have your certificates ready, “I . . felt dead.”
. He did not
and make sure Peter’s release is recognize his own croak.
stamped across it. See if you are Donovan was obviously making a
at the proper entrance gate. There bad failure of his attempt to stand
will be plenty of fire for all. Hey, up, “Are we alive now? Or is
you —YOU DOWN THERE. there more?”
TAKE YOUR PLACE IN KlNE “I .. . feel alive.” It was the
OR—” same hoarseness. Powell said cau-
The white thread that was Powell tiously, “Did you . hear anything,
. .

groveled backward before the ad- when you . . . when you were dead ?”
vancing shout, and felt the sharp Donovan paused, and then very
stab of the pointing finger. slowly nodded his head, “Did you?”

PARADOXICAL ESCAPB *5
— ”

“Yes. Did you hear about cof- us here. The ship will take us
fins .and. . females singing . . . back. Me more beans.”
for
and the lines forming to get into “But Mike hold on, Mike.
. . .

Hell? Did you?” If he takes us back the way it


Donovan shook his bead, “Just brought us here

one voice.” Donovan stopped halfway up and
“Loud ?” sat back heavily into the chair.
“No. Soft, but rough like a file Powell went on, “We’ll have to
over the fingertips. It was a ser- . . die again, Mike.”
.

mon, you know. About hell-fire. “Well,” sighed Donovan, “if we


He described the tortures of . . . have to, we have to. At least it
well,you know. I once heard a isn’t permanent, not very perma-
sermon like that—almost.” nent.”
He was perspiring.
Susan Calvin was speaking slowly
They were conscious of sunlight now. For six hours she had been
through the port. It was weak, but slowly prodding The Brain for six —
it was blue-white —
and the gleam- fruitless hours. She was weary of
ing pea that was the distant source repetitions, weary of circumlocu-
of light was not Old Sol. tions, weary of everything.
And Powell pointed a trembling “Now, Brain, there’s just one
finger at the single g?iuge. The more thing. You must make a spe-
needle stood stiff and proud at the cial effort to answer simply. Have
hairline whose figure read 300, OCX) you been entirely clear about the
parsecs. interstellarjump? I mean does it
Powell said, “Mike, if it's true, take them very far?”
we must be out of the Galaxy alto- “As far as they want to go, Miss
gether.” Susan. Golly, it isn't any trick
Donovan said, “Blazes! Greg! through the warp.”
We'd be the first men out of the “And on the other side, what
Solar System.” will they see?”
“Yes! That's just it. We’ve “Stars and stuff. What do you
escaped the sun. We've escaped suppose ?”
the Galaxy. Mike, this ship is the The next question slipped out.
answer. It means freedom for all “They'll be alive, then?”
humanity —
freedom to spread
“Sure
!”
through to every star that exists
“And the interstellar jump won’t
millions and billions and trillions of
hurt them?”
them.”
And then he came down with a She froze as The Brain main-
hard thud, “But how do we get tained silence. That was it! She
back,Mike?” had touched the sore spot.

Donovan smiled shakily, “Oh, “Brain,” she supplicated faintly.


that's all right. The ship brought “Brain, do you hear me?”

ASTOUNDING SC IENCK-F ICTION


The answer was weak, quivering. They were gathered, all of them,
The Brain said, “Do I have to an- about a table. It was a full staff
swer r About the jump, I mean ?” meeting of the brains of U. S. Robot
“Not if you don’t want to. But it & Mechanical Men Corp.

would be interesting 1 mean if you Slowly and climactically, Powell
wanted to.” Susan Calvin tried to and Donovan finished a graphic and
be bright about it. resounding story.
“Aw-w-w. You spoil everything.” Susan Calvin broke the silence
And the psychologist jumped up that followed. In the few days
suddenly, with a look of flaming that had elapsed she had recovered
insighton her face. her icy, somewhat acid, calm bi>t —
“Oh, my,” she gasped. “Oh, my.” still a trace of embarrassment broke

And then she laughed and laughed through.


and laughed —
hysterically and un- “Strictly speaking,” she said, “this


,

bearably the tension of hours and was my fault all of it. When we
days released in a burst. firstpresented this problem to The
It later, weak and spent, that
was Brain, as I hope some of you re-
she told Lanning, “I tell you it's all member, I went to great lengths
right. No, you must leave me to impress upon it the importance
alone, now. The ship will be back of rejecting any item of informa-
safely, with the men, and I want to tion capable of creating a dilemma.
rest. I will rest. Now go away.” In doing so I said something like
‘Don’t get excited about the death
Theship returned to Earth as of humans. We don’t mind it ai
unjarringly as it had left.
silently, as
all. Just give the sheet back and

dropped precisely into place and forget it.’
It
the main Jock gaped open. The two "Hm-m-m,” said Lanning. “What
men who walked out felt their way follows ?”
carefully and scratched their rough “The obvious. When that item
entered its calculations which yielded
and scrubbily-stubbled chins.
the equation controlling the length
And then, slowly and purpose-
of minimum interval for the inter-
fully, the one with red hair knelt
down and planted upon the concrete
stellar jump — it meant death for
humans. That’s where Consol-
of therunway a firm, loud kiss.
idated’s machine broke down com-
They waved aside the crowd that pletely. But I had depressed the
was gathering and' made gestures importance of death to The Brain —
of denial at the eager couple that not entirely, for the First Law can
had piled out of the down-swooping
ambulance with a stretcher between

never be broken blit just suffi-
ciently so that The Brain could take
them. a second look at the equation. Suffi-
Gregory Powell said, “Where’s ciently to give it time to realize
the nearest shower ?” that after the interval was passed
They were led away. through, the men would return to
life —just as the matter and energy “Oh, if that cute Jittlc tyke only
had a neck.”
of the ship itself would return to
being. This so-called ‘death,’ in Lanning raised a quieting hand,
other words, was a strictly tempo- “All right, it’s been a fnes'Sj but it’s

rary phenomenon. You see?” over. What now?”


She looked about her. They were “Well,” said Bogert, quietly, ‘‘ob-
all listening. viouslyit’s up to us to improve the

She went on, “So he accepted space-warp engine. There must be


the item, but not without a certain some way of getting around that

jar. Even with death temporary interval of jump. If there is, we’re
and its importance depressed, it was the only organization left with a
enough to unbalance him very- grand-scale super-robot, so we’re
gently.” bound to find it if anyone. And
She brought it out calmly, “He then —
U. S. Robots has interstellar
developed a sense of humor it’s — travel, and humanity has the op-
an escape, you know, a method of portunity for galactic empire.”
partial escape from reality. He “What about Consolidated?” said
became a practical joker.” Lanning.
Powell and Donovan were oil
“Hey,” interrupted Donovan sud-
want to make a suggestion
denly, “I
their feet.
there. They landed U. S. Robots
"What?” cried Powell.
into quite a mess. It wasn’t as bad
Donovan was considerably more a mess as they expected and it
colorful about it.
turned out well, but their intentions
"It’s so,” said Calvin. “He took weren’t pious. And Greg and I
care of you, and kept you safe, but bore the most of it.
you couldn’t handle any controls, “Well, they wanted an answer,
because they weren’t for you just — and they’ve got one. Send them
for the humorous Brain. could We that ship, guaranteed, and U. S.
reach you by radio, but you couldn’t Robots can collect their two hundred
answer. You bad plenty of food, thou plus construction costs. And
but all of it beans and milk. Then if they test it —
then suppose we
you died, so to speak, and were re- let The Brain have just a little more
born, but the period of your death fun before it’s brought back to
was made . . . well . , . interesting. normal.”
*1 wish I knew how he did it. It Lanning said gravely, “It sounds
was The Brain’s prize little joke, just and proper to me.”
but he meant no harm.” To which Bogert added absently,
"No harm!” gasped Donovan. “Strictly according to contract, too.”

THE END.

ASTOUNDING SCIENCE FICTION



Two plates of the same area of the shy the upper one exposed on blue-
sensitive film; the lower made on red-sensitive film. Xotiee that the
yreater number of stars visible on the red plate is not tine simply to
longer exposure, but to an enormous change in apparent relative brightness.

Advance in the Red


by R. S. RICHARDSON
I’lmtugraphs from Mount Wilson Observatory

Above it a photograph of the remains of the supernova Ophouchi of


J60Jf,
— Kepler's Star,
9
'
located after more than three centuries bp
Dr. Walter Baade with the aid of red-sensitive photographic plates.
,

Calculation from the centuries-old observations indicated it should be


at the point marked with a cross , or within 1' of arc of that point.
Red-sensitive photography made possible this plate that shores Nova
Ophouchi —
the luminous, nebulous mass of fan-shaped bright knots

and filaments on the right and promises even more in under-
standing of what makes a Universe and makes a Universe run. —
While browsing through some different subject. It was by an
scientific journals recently in search astronomer who is now director of
of information pertaining to the ap- an observatory and the author of
pearance of Halley’s Comet in 1909. several books about the stars.
my attention was drawn to a paper Doubtless lie has almost forgotten
published that year upon quite a his . dissertation written thirty-six

100 AS O t N DIN O
l‘
1
Si: I KN <: K F I CT I O N
-
years ago "in partial fulfillment for and NGC 205, have for the first time
the requirements of the degree of been resolved into separate stars.
Doctor of Philosophy in astron- Hitherto every attempt to force a
omy.” • resolution had ended in failure, and
What aroused my interest was the problem was regarded as one
the incredible state 6f our ignorance that would have to wait for comple-
so short a time ago as the last re- tion of the 200-incli. But it was
turn of Halley’s Comet. This paper successfully solved on a plate taken
represented the best astronomical at the 100-inch on the night of Sep-
knowledge of its period. Vet its tember 23, 1943, while the 200-inch
boldest statements sounded feeble disk was reposing peacefully on the
compared with conceptions that we grounds of the California Institute
take as a matter of course today — of Technology.
as those of today will doubtless How was this feat accomplished?
sound when Halley’s Comet returns It is merely a part of the “red revo-

again in 19!ji5. lution” that has been going on in


This student had secured photo- astronomy for the last twenty years.
graphs of the Andromeda nebula
from which he attempted to deduce Photographic emulsions sensitive
the nature of its constitution. From to blueand violet light have been
his photographs' it appeared that usedin astronomy for nearly a cen-
the nebula must he composed of tury. In fact, it was the resurrec-
clusters of stars. Against this was tion of plates of the double star 61
the fact that the only measurement Cygni taken by Rutherford in 1870
of the distance of the Andromeda that enabled us to detect the exist-
nebula put it at nineteen light-years ! ence of an invisible third component
If this were true, then the stars com- in the system, the first interstellar,
posing the nebula must be about the planet discovery. Moreover, these
size of asteroids in order not to early blue- sensitive emulsions com-
be resolved into individual points of pare favorably in speed and plate
light. There was also some spec- grain with the best available today.
ulation regarding the nature of the Indeed, not until very recently have
central —
luminosity is it a single astronomers discovered any way to
star or a close cluster of stars? speed up a blue-sensitive plate. Now
Fortunately for posterity, the author they put the plates into an oven
finally went out on a limb with the and "bake" them for three days at
flat statement that in his opinion 122°F, just as a housewife puts a
the nebula was composed of stars, cake in the oven for a couple of
the distance factor notwithstanding. hours. The baking process pro-
As this is written a paper has duces a considerable gain in speed
just appeared in the Astro physical when the exposures run for an hour
Journal announcing that the nucleus or longer.
of the Andromeda, nebula and its But for years even the visible red
two close companions, Messier 32 region of the spectrum was hard to

AKVAXCK IN THE HIM* 101


How to recognize a Supernova. Three centuries ago absolute magnitudes
,

couldn't be measured; that the star in Ophouchi was a nova no one



questioned but was it ordinary, or super.' The dots represent the bright-
ness observed in 1604 and 1605; the superimposed curve is the recent
supernova in 1C4182. These light curves show it was Supernova Ophouchi.

photograph in a reasonable length red and infrared region of the sjiec-


of time. Worse were
still, there no trum by molecules of O a and OH.*
commercial emulsions on the mar- The trouble is that since our own
ket ;
instead the astronomer had to atmosphere contains an abundance
take a blue-sensitive plate and stain of these same molecules, any faint
it with a red-sensitive dye. This lines produced in the atmosphere of
method often yielded unsatisfactory Mars are hidden by the }X)werful
residts in the hands of inexperi- terrestrial absorption bands.
enced ojterators, so that the best A method of detecting faint ox-
photographs in the red taken thirty ygen and water vajxir lines in the
and forty years ago are inferior to spectrum of Mars has been known
those easily available at present. since 1<S67. called the method of
An example of a problem which lunar comparisons. Because the
had to wait for solution iqx>n the M<x>n is devoid of air its light is
development of fast red sensitive simply reflected sunlight, unchanged
emulsions, is the question of oxygen except for absorption suffered in
and water va]M>r in the atmosphere passing through the Earth's atmos-
of Mars. If the atmosphere of phere. But if there is an appre-
Mars contains oxygen and water va- ciable amount of oxgyen and water
jx>r. then we should l)e able to detect vapor in the atmosphere of Mars,
these gases by the series of absorp- these sj)ectral lines should be
tion lines or bauds produced in the • Xot n jo.
ASTOrxniNO SCIENCE 1’ICTIOJf
strengthened relative to the same Campbell at the Lick Observatory
lines in the Moon. The comparison had made visual comparisons De-
must, of course, he made when both tween Mars and the Moon without
planets are at the same altitude in being able to detect the presence of
the sky. The astronomer points his water vapor in the Martian spec-
telescope at the Moon and takes a trum. With the advent of photog-
good hard look at its spectrum. Then raphy he believed a much more
as fast as he can he aims his tele- delicate comparison was possible.
scope at Mars to see if the lines ap- Like Janssen. Campbell was con-
j>ear intensified. By thus switching vinced that the observations should

back and fortli which we now he taken as far above sea level as
know could not possibly have possible ; in fact,he had selected as

proven anything several noted as- a site the highest point in the
tronomers went oil record as having United States, the summit of
established the existence of water Mount Whitney with an altitude of
vapor in the atmosphere of Mars. fourteen thousand five hundred
Janssen, for example, packed a tele- feet.
scope nine thousand eight hundred As the time of opposition drew
feet to the summit of Mount Etna near Campbell began to lay his
where he spent three days making plans. In 1908, accompanied by
observations. As a result he con- Dr. C. G. Abbott, the present secre-
fidently reported to the French tary of the Smithsonian Institu-
Academy, “ believe I can announce
I tion, he made a trip to the proposed
to you the presence of aqueous va- site to ascertain conditions there.
jxir in the atmospheres of Mars and The journey evidently was harder
Saturn.” than Campbell had anticipated, for
(Whatever else Janssen may have according to his own account they
been, no one could ever accuse him suffered severely from cold, ex-
of being an armchair astronomer. posure. and mountain sickness. In
In addition to his one-man exjiedi- fact, it looked so bad that he de-
tion to Mount Etna, he also escaped cided there would be no point in
from Paris during the siege of 1870 planning observations there for the
by means of a balloon in order to coming year unless sufficient funds
observe a total eclipse of the Sun. were forthcoming to provide ade-
Incidentally, Janssen was the first quate transportation and shelter for
person to observe the yellow helium a week's stay.
line in the solar sjiectruni although Now it is always hard to raise
he had no knowledge of its iden- money for ordinary astronomical
tity). investigations that can be conducted
at home in comfort, but there is
In 1909 Mars was scheduled to something about an expedition that
make an exceptionally close ap- loosens the purse strings of the
proach to Earth in September. At wealthy, and so it proved in this
the last close approach in 1894. case. The money was raised and
Al» VANCE IN THE RED 10 »
Globular nebula X lit USoir. 'into,
I

taken on b’suxen s:titv ’''ate. ;»


febiiui'y 19Z Sole the uniform,
<.

ciotufliki appearance of the object

%
S'i'o'l S [ > I X « ; SCI K N .
' I' • I i'T i oN
)

the observations made as planned was approaching op|x>sition Decem-


under practically ideal conditions. l>er1. The exjxisurcs were made
The results obtained with the red- on Eastman IV-X plates, an emul-
sensitive .
plates agreed with those sion of high contrast and low gran-
made visually in 1894; namely, that ulation very sensitive to the near
the quantity of water vajxir in the infrared. Despite the large scale
atmosphere of Mars was too small and high quality of the plates, how-
to lx? detected by the instruments ever, measurements failed to reveal
employed. the slightest displacement in the
A fter all the agonizing effort that position of Earth's atmospheric
has been exjiended by Campliell and lines such as would have been pro-
others in trying to detect water va- duced by the disturbing effect of
por on Mars by comparison with faint Martian lines beneath them.
the Moon it is sad to relate that the Again we were forced to conclude
method has lx*en abandoned in favor that at the most there can he but
of another which is much more deli- one percent as much oxygen and
cate. At certain positions in their water vapor in the atmosphere of
Mars and the Earth may ap-
orbits, Mars as in Earth’s atmosphere.
proach each other as fast as ten
miles per second. While this is Until about twenty years ago the
merely loafing as comets go, it is only dye sensitive to the deep infra-
sufficient for the purjxise at hand red was dicyanine, with which the
which is to produce a measurable solar spectrum had been photo-
Doppler shift in the water vapor graphed out to wave-length 9849.
lines in the spectrum of Mars rela- (The limit of sensitivity of the eye
tive to these lines in the spectrum is ordinarily somewhere' in the
of the Barth's atmosphere. The neighborhood of 8000, although
idea seems to have occurred to both people differ widely in this resjiect,
Lowell and Camplxdl independently. some lieing able to detect “brown”
Its advantage over the method of light out as far as 8600. 1 have
lunar comparisons is that we meas- always heard that as we grow older
ure a position, which is something- our eyes become less sensitive to the
capable of determination with a violet and more sensitive to the red.
high degree of precision in place of ; Dicyanine was never very satisfac-
an intensity, which is an uncertain tory* lx*ing somewhat uncertain in
quantity subject to all sorts ot ob- its action, so that few were able
scure errors. to use it with success.
Development of high sj>eed infra- The development of a new infra-
red sensitive plates has enabled this red sensitive dye came about in an
test to l>e applied several times dur- unusual fashion that illustrates how
ing the last decade with powerful small the gap really today between
is

instruments. The most recent deter- workers even inmost widely


the
mination was made with the 100- separated fields of endeavor.
inch on October 29, 1943 when Mars About 1926 the motion picture in-
ApVANCB IN THE !<El* 105
dustrv was anxious fur an emulsion fully set in the drying rack later
that would enable scenes to lie taken were discovered to have toppled over
during full daylight that looked as emulsion side down. Or when the
if they were taken at night. Now light was turned on the ammoniating
it hap]>eiis that a scene Hinted in solution was seen to he inadequate
deep infrared light- gives the im- to cover the plates uniformly.
pression of having been taken in According to one school of
semidarkness or by moonlight. A thought the sensitivity of the plate
considerable saving in money would decided to a high degree upon
result if an infrared sensitive emul- how fast it was dried after bath-
sion could he found fast enough for ing. Some went so far as to
motion picture requirements. By advocate waving the plate in midair
1927 Eastman had created a dye while conveying it from ammoniat-
called neoevanine that filled the bill ing bath to drying cabinet, a tech-
— and at the same time gave astron- nique which occasionally resulted in
omers a powerful new tool for the plate never being exposed at all.
probing deep into the comparatively The photographs were taken dur-
unexplored infrared region. ing June and July, starting soon
My introduction to neoevanine after sunrise and exposing all day
came in the summer of 1927 when long continuously until near sunset.
as an untried assistant I was handed Three of us worked in shifts keep-
the job <if trying to photograph the ing the sunspot which appeared
Infrared spectrum of sunspots at the alxjut the size of a dime centered
150-foot sun tower on Mount Wil- projjcrly upon the camera. This
son. As previously mentioned, the meant punching buttons every few
spectrum of the sun itself had al- seconds that operated the slovv-mo-
ready l)een photographed out to tion controls on the mirrors at the
9849 with dicyanine. l*ut at that top of the tower.
time .the sunspot spectrum had only At the end of the summer as the
l>een photographed out to about result of many long and tedious
8200 on a small scale. hours of guiding we had some toler-
First step was to hypersensitize ably good photographs of the sun-,
the neocyanine plates by bathing spot spectrum out to 8800, which
.them in a solution of alcohol, am- was about our limit. Some of the
monia, and water. This was an un- plates were seriously fogged, which
welcome chore as there were so cut down the contrast so that many
many tilings that could go wrong interesting features were nearly
in the process. The interval timer, obliterated. On the whole, the re-
which had to be set in total dark- sults were rather disappointing.
ness after the first batch of plates It is interesting to look back upon
was bathed, was an erratic instru- that summer’s work in the light of
ment which frequently went off at our present knowledge for it all

the wrong time, or worse still — seems like such a waste of effort'.
failed to go off at all. Plates care- Because if we had waited just a
10(J A S TO l X D I XG SC IRXCB-FH'TIO S
few years longer we could have sensitive to the far infrared which
gotten vastly better results with after all is of little use in astro-
a tenth of the effort. Aluiut 1933, physics except in solar spectroscopy,
as I recall, Eastman discovered an- hut rather to improvements in emul-
other dye called zenoeyanine which sions sensitive to the visible red and
was as superior to neocyanine as near infrared regions, until they are
neocyanitie had lieen to tlicyaniiie. comparable with the best blue-sensi-
Whereas with neocyanine, exposures tive plates. Development of such
of six hours were necessary to get plates has vastly extended the range
8700 at the 150-toot tower, this of our present instrumental equip-
wave-length could easily he obtained ment revealing objects hopelessly
with a 1 - 7 plate in thirty minutes.
. lost toemulsions blind except to the
And whereas with neocyanine the blue and violet. This is due to the
limit to which the solar s|>ectrum great jienetrating power of red light
could he photographed was 11,600. as compared with blue —
it doesn’t

with zenoeyanine it was |x>ssible to “scatter” so easily —


and the fact
push out another 2000 angstroms that many nebulous objects emit
to 13,500, which is still the present certain red rays very strongly due
limit for the photographic plate. to atoms of hydrogen and ionized
One of the immediate results of nitrogen, which makes them easy to
this extension into the infrared was photograph on plates sensitive to
that enabled us to state with cer-
it these particular colors.
tainty that several elements are in a recent investigation of the
present in the sun which could not Crab Nebula report in Astounding
!>e identified before. Thus phos- it was told how photographs in red

phorus had long been missing from light had revealed an intricate fila-
the line-up of elements present in mentary structure that was hardly
the solar atmosphere. The trouble suggested on blue-sensitive plates.
had lieen that the strongest lines of By comparing plates taken several
phosphorus are miles a|xtrt, one decades ajiart it was found that the
group being down in the ultraviolet nebulosity is expanding at such a
hidden by the ozone bands of the rate that when the motion is pro-
Earth’s atmosphere, and the other jected backward a point of explo-
out in the Earth’s atmosphere, and sion is indicated alxmt the year
the other out in the infrared l>eyond 1 100 A.D. A search of old Chinese
the range of our plates. Not until records showed that a “guest star”
1934 when the region from 9100 to had actually appeared in 1054 A.D.
10,600 became easily accessible so close to the position of the Crab
could phosphorus be added to the Nebula as to leave no doubt that
list of elements known to exist in this weird-looking mass is the re-
the sun. mains of an exploded supernova.
Thus we know erf at least one object
But the real revolution has come in the sky that permits us to check
not so much through emulsions on the state ofa bona fide super nova
AD VANCK I N T II E R E I) 107
JiUiplicA! nebula \'(*,G Ib’^a stn n\-
lure Inherently similar frWGC J ISo
'n! this r ease ns: live
:
exposure re-
lofy'S riie stars , noun, I e ifjc
0 neh-
i'h e resolution is much better *11

• V native than in a ‘print. 7 'hc ab~


fearance is that <>f tlwtilnbuUir star
i lus’d in* Iffi eu.'es. the dimsif-
swns are those 01 m isfana universe.
eight hundred years afterward.
But the remains of one supernova
can hardly be relied upon to tell the
whole story. It gives us no means
of deciding which features are typi-
cal of all supernova and which are
peculiar only to the Crab Nebula.
For example, the rate of expansion
of the Crab Nebula of two million
nine hundred thousand miles per
hour sounds big compared .with the
speed of even a P-38, but is quite
moderate compared with other
cosmic velocities. Is this rate, of
expansion characteristic of the ex-
panding shell of all supernovae? We
would also like to know whether the
mass ejected during the explosion is
of the order of several suns, as ap-
pears to he the case with the Crab
Nebula. And whether the remnant
of a star left behind is always a
white dwarf or not.
The only way to answer such
questions is by searching regions ot
the sky where novae were known
to have appeared in the past. Since
such spectacular outbursts naturally
attracted wide attention, they were
carefully observed and recorded by
astronomers with sufficient accuracy
so that the region of search today
is not hopelessly large.

One of the best known novae for


which reliable records have been
preserved is that which flared up in
the constellation of Ophiuchus
early in October. 1604 — Kepler’s
star, as it is generally called. For
years astronomers have examined
the faint stars in this region without
locating a single one that could he
identified as a fossil nova. (Al-

lan
though Kepler’s name is associated wisps of nebulosity are scattered
with this nova his measures of its over a much larger field.
position were so bad that modern In ordinary photographic blue
investigators have rejected them en- light the nebulosity is extremely
tirely in favor of those made by a faint which explains why it was so
lesser astronomer, Fahricitts. ) Chief easily missed before. Unlike the
reasoti for failure in the past is Crab Nebula, there is no strong
probably due to the heavy interstel- emission of light of all colors, the
lar dust clouds that obscure the main source of luminosity being the
Ophiuchus region. Not until suit- red rays of hydrogen and of ionized
able red-sensitive plates became nitrogen. Otherwise, the spectrum
available could these obscuring of the cloud closely resembles that
clouds be penetrated and the rem- of the Crab Nebula, which strength-
nants of the nova revealed after ens the conclusion that the two had
three hundred years. the same violent origin.
The very first plate on this field If there is any lingering doubt

taken in rose-colored visual light the cloud was found to be moving


with the 100-inch reflector on the toward Earth with a velocity of
night of June 18, 1941, v h an two hundred kilometers per second,
exposure of two hours revealed a which translated into more familial
small patch of nebulosity close to terms is four hundred fifty thousand
the predicted position.* Measure- miles per hour. This is a higher
ments showed that the center of the velocity than we should expect for a
nebulous patch differed from the small galactic nebula in this part
position derived from Fabricius’ of the sky that chanced to l>e near
records by only about one-sixtieth of Kepler’s star. But the motion is

the diameter of the full moon. This readily explained if it is attributed


speaks amazingly well for the ac- to matter ejected by an expanding
curacy of the old astronomer, espe- shell around a central star.
cially since the nova first appeared Anv estimates of the distance of
far down in the southwestern sky Kepler’s star can at present he re-
where it was exceedingly hard to garded as little better than mere
observe. guesses. For the Crab Nebula, an
*
The nebulosity appears as a broken accurate value for the distance was
mass of bright knots and filaments obtained by combining its arujular
covering a fan-sha^ied area roughly rate of expansion derived from
equal to the size of a large lunar measures on plates taken several
crater. There are indications, how decades apart, with its linear radial
ever, that this fan-shaped mass rep- velocity in miles per second derived
resents only the brightest part of from the Doppler shift of spectrum
a more extended nebula, as faint lines. Wecan obtain the linear
radial velocity of the cloud near
* For the benefit of camera-minded readers,
the exposures were made on an East mm
103E Kepler’s star in a single night. All
plate lichind a Schott ItC2 filter. This plate
has a sharp maximum of sensitivity at 6400. that is necessary is to get a few

no ASTOV NO NO SCIENCE- FICTION


I
good plates of its spectrum. But will undoubtedly receive further at-
unfortunately we must wait for at tention in the future, not only be-
least twenty years to pass l>efore cause of its jxjsition but because it
we can measure its angular rate of is much whiter than any other star
expansion. Which means that not nearby.
until- 1965 at the earliest can we ex-
pect an announcement of the dis- We mentioned earlier that the
tance of the object. latest triumph for red-sensitive
We know that the nova of 1604 photography is the resolution of the
at maximum was about as bright as central nucleus of the Andromeda
Jupiter. But lacking a knowledge nebula, as well as two neighboring
of its distance we cannot say how it nebulae which so far had always
compares in brightness with other presented a smooth uniform appear-
novae that is. we cannot fix its
: ance even on the finest plates. The
absolute brightness, and say posi- —
reason now is obvious the individ-
tively that it was a supernova and ual stars simply were not bright
not an ordinary nova, for example. enough. That is, so-called “'early
In the case of Kepler's star, how- type” spirals as well as the central
ever. we feel virtually certain that nucleus of late type spirals like the
we are dealing with a supernova. Andromeda nebula and our own
The reason we galaxy, evidently contain few if any
feel so positive is
owing to the shape of
excessively luminous white stars
the light
curve. For if we
such as the supergiant O’s and li’s.
plot the points
representing the brightness of Kep- Neither are there any brilliant sufier-
ler's star as it was recorded in 1604, •giant -type stars present. In fact, M
and then lay on top of these the the whole distribution of stars with
light curve of a typical supernova respect to color and brightness is
that apfieared in an extragalactic different from that of stars in the
nebula during August. 1937, the fit region we can easily observe near
ispractically jierfect. Thus we have the sun. In early tv|>e island uni-
two excellent reasons for believing verses and at the center of late
that the Crab Nebula and the neb- type spirals the brightest stars are
ulosity near Kepler's star are of the yellow and orange giant K stars.
identical origin: (1) their spectra And to resolve them it was neces-
are very similar, and (2) both were sary to make exposures with just
originally supernovae. the right kind of color sensitive
As to the stellar remnant —the emulsion on nights of fine seeing
star that excites the nebulosity to when the figure of the 100-inch
shine —so far
has defied detection.
it mirror was perfect.*
There is a faint star imliedded in a A plate of Messier 32, thfe bright-
bright patch at the tip of the fati- er round companion of the An-
sbaped nebulosity which looks sus- dromeda nebula, was obtained under
picious. It may be nothing but a * These remarkable photographs were taken
by !>r. Walter Baade using an ammnniated
chance coincidence. But this star Kastman 10.?K plate behind a Schott RG2 filter.

a i > va Nr e i n th i< k it Ill


conditions so nearly ideal that dur- reveal them to be a new type of stel-
ing an exposure of three and one- lar structure, a universe of stars
half hours it was not necessary to forming a connecting link between
focus once. Although the bright the extremes in our pattern of
central portion of Messier 32 is galaxies.
burned out due to overexposure, the At one end is the type represented
outer part when examined under a by a strong concentration toward a
microscope found to have dis-
is central nucleus shown by the nearly
integrated into an unbelievable mass spheroidal elliptical nebulae. At the
of the faintest star images imagina- other is the extremely loose swarm
ble. This plate was of particular of stars represented by the newly
interest because it shows which discovered systems in the southern
features indicate the first signs of constellations of Sculptor and For-
resolution in this type of nebulae. nax. We are accustomed- to think-
They are seen to be star chains, ing that all extragalactic nebulae
formed by accidental grouping of are some sort of spirals. But in
the brightest members of the sys- 1938 a plate taken at the Boyden
tem. These chains, which are clearly Station of the Harvard Observatory
resolved on the red-sensitive plates, in Bloemfontein, South Africa, dis-
appear on blue-sensitive plates only closed a brand-new and unsuspected
as poorly defined filaments in the kind of a galaxy. On plate No.
otherwise formless structure of the 18005 in the series taken at Harvard
nebula. since 1893 there appeared a uniform
The fact that these nebulae can be swarm of images just on the limit
resolved. into stars provides us with of visibility. At first the astron-
a handv criterion for determining omers could not be sure whether
whether an early type nebula belongs they had discovered a new galaxy
to one of the so-called "nearer’' or somebody’s thumbprint im-
group of about a dozen within a bedded in the emulsion. But later
globe of a million light-years from exposures fully confirmed die stellar
Earth. We cannot tell merely by nature at the images. The unique
looking at a hazy nebulous patcli feature about the Sculptor and
how far away it is. Hut if it can Fornax systems is their lack of
he resolved into stars on a red-sensi- —
structure they resemble a loosely
tive plate it is one of our nearer condensed globular cluster but wdth
neighbors in space. the dimensions of an island uni-
Using this two small
criterion, verse.
nebulae long under suspicion were 'Fhe two systems just resolved on
photographed with 103E plates and the red-sensitive plates might be
found to confirm this view. Both described as slightly elongated giant
systems were clearly resolved into globular star clusters. There is no
stars. definite nucleus and the central re-
What makes their resolution sig- gion is very similar to that of cer-
nificant is that the red photographs tain rich globular clusters. But they

ASTor N i> I N <; SCIKN'CE FICTION


cannot be regarded merely as vastly of 5000°K as would be supposed,
extended star clusters. For the but one of the order of jxwsibly
diameter of the smallest elliptical 500,000°K.
galaxy is about twenty-six hundred Most startling development in the
light-years, while the very largest red revolution is the possibility of a
star cluster does not exceed three return to the technique tried by Sir

hundred thirty a gap so big as to William Herschel one hundred fifty
separate them definitely into distinct years ago. Experiments conducted
types of cosmic organisms. in Belgium in 1937 with an instru-
ment known as the “Evaporograph"
Looking ahead it seems probable show the necessity for some device
that in the future astrophysics will to supersede the photographic plate
l>e tremendously influenced by the if we expect to go much farther
electronicand radio techniques now into the infrared.
being applied to war problems. This Although new dyes may be dis-
would appear to be particularly true covered more sensitive in the far
in the field of infrared sj>ectroscopy. infrared than zenocyanine which is
We may expect postwar observ- the best we have at present, it is
ers, either with the coronagraph in doubtful if they would be of great
full daylight* or during eclipses, to value to us. For in this extremely
pay close attention to the infrared long wave-length region objects at
region beyond the reach of photog- room temperature begin to lose their
raphy at wave-length 13,500. It usual dark aspect. Instead they be-
may be that observation of the infra- gin to glow That is, the heat rays
!

red coronal lines will be the key from objects in the room will start
that • unlocks the solution to the to fog the plate and there is little

whole mystery of why the corona we can do to stop them. It is for-


radiates as it does. For example, in tunate that the sensitivity of the
1036 Bernard Lyot working with eye does not extend much beyond
a coronagraph at the l‘ic clu Midi 8000. For if we were able to see
in the Pyrenees, observed two lines just a trifle farther into the infra-
in the solar corona at 10,747 and red, our vision would be dimmed
10,798. Later these were iden- hv a jjermanent disturbing diffused
tified with atoms of iron twelve impression of light owing to the
times ionized (Fe XIII). From emission of radiation at blood tem-
this starting point a complete new j>erature in the interior of our eyes.
theory of the corona has been built Even now our deepest infrared
up which attributes the old coronium sensitive emulsions must l>e kept on
of bygone days to atoms of iron, iceor otherwise they will soon be-
nickel, and calcium ionized from come fogged, indicating we are al-
ten to sixteen times. To produce ready near the limit of practical use.
such high-powered ionization it is But up to date, photography has
necessary to postulate a temperature extended our knowledge of the in-
in the sun’s ttpjx*r atmosphere, not frared only about an octave, while

ASTOUStUXO SCIKXCH FK’TIlM


— .

it is believed that the whole infra- ftft<rfcftft£ft*ftftftftftftftftftftftftftftftftft


red spectral region covers about nine
octaves.
The principle of the Evaporo-
graph is extremely simple. The es-
sential feature consists of an ex-
ceedingly thin celluloid membrane
covered on one side with a good
heat-absorbing substance such as
bismuth black soot. On the other
side of the membrane there is de-
posited a thin layer of paraffin oil.
This paraffin layer is made so thin
that when seen by reflected light it
has a vivid color.
Now if infrared rays are focused
on the blackened side of the mem-
brane, this spot will become hotter HE GOT
than its surroundings, with the re-
sult that the paraffin begins to
THE PURPLE HEART . .

evaporate on the other side. Result


is that the color of the spot begins

to change color. The film is ex-


WILL A BOND PROVE
ceedingly sensitive to changes in TOO COSTLY FOR YOU?
temperature so that various colors
can be seen directly or photographed It's left to your own conscience, be-
on an ordinary plate if desired. Thus cause that's the kind of country we are.
dark spectrum lines being regions Somewhere else in the world, the money
of cool absorption are quickly re- needed to carry on the war would be
vealed by the evaporation pattern gotten through added taxes, compulsory
they produce. savings. But not here. Because we're
Already remarkable indirect pho- still free . . . ond it's stillup to you
tographs have been obtained of vari- and no one else — to decide whether or
ous substances far into the infra- not your country, or your boy, is worth
red for example, certain spectrum
: another bond.
lines of carbon dioxide gas at wave-
length 43,000, and of water vapor
in the region at 63,000.
BUY IT NOW!
THE WORLD'S
But whether astronomers can
BEST INVESTMENT!
ever “evaporograph” the solar
corona out beyond 20,000 is some-
thing that only the future can WAR BONDS
answer.
THE END. itftftftftftftftftftftftftftftftftftftftftftftftft*
J

\ ADVANCE IN TIIK RED AST— 5R 115


)
People like to feel superior. Also they'like wealth. Even Mar-
tians do. But it takes an inspired and Satanic genius to cook up
a scheme as malignant as the benevolent poison they braved —
Illustrated by Williams

Gift Horse
by ROSS ROCKLYNNE

Itwas the day of the New


first to one of wresting with the biggest
Year and the first day of the New problem they had ever faced. •

Century: January 1, 2701 A.D. Raoul de Grafton, chairman, rose


The six men who sat around me and said, “Gentlemen, my wife will
square table on the top floor of a be expecting me home for a New
skyscraper in Quebec, capital of the Year’s dinner. I’m tired and I'm
Consolidated Western Hemisphere convinced we'll have to tackle this
Republics, were tired, worn, blurn •
with fresher minds. Who wants to
eyed. Their condition was not at* move for an adjournment?"
tributable to a night of carousal, but “I don’t," said the biggest, ricli-

n« A8TOUNDING SCIENCE-®:,ICTlOH
: —
cst, most powerful, most stubborn The other five men stiffened.
man in the crowd. He rose. Waverly, a rather small man who
This man's name was John Ross- controlled a rather large oil em-
more. Hjs energy was undimin- pire, said coldly, “I resent that.”
isljed. All through that long “Resent ahead. But I fail to sec
night, while the others argued, he why you should resent my state-
had been quiet save for an occa- ment when some of your statements
sional sarcastic remark. It was were infinitely more callous. Wasn’t
estimated that Rossmore controlled it you who proposed making war on

a tenth of Earth’s resources and in- the Martians, exterminating them?”


dustries. The rest of them averaged, Waverly was on his feet. “Mr.
apiece, about half of that. Chairman, I demand that Mr. Ross-
Rossmore said flatly, “We don’t more retract that statement!”
move for adjournment until our At this point another man rose
problem is settled. Let me say this from his chair. He was middle-
Each man's opinion is clear-cut, aged, his eyes were tired, his shoul-
even though the issue has been ders slightly stooped. “If I may be
clouded and clouded again by off- permitted to say something,” he said
trail issues — such as mercy, and lowly, “may I remark that the re-
justice, and morals, and let me add, traction of a statement doesn’t nec-
by hypocrisy. Now, Mr. De Graf- essarily erase an evil. I’ve sinned
ton: Will 3 ou explain briefly and
r
some in my life, but I tliink my
simply the exact purpose of this greatest sin lias been committed
meeting ?” right in this room.”
De Grafton at once became un- “Mr. Pearle,” said Rossmore
easy. None of these men knew coldly. “We aren’t discussing re-
where he stood with Rossmore, and ligion.”
what biting remark Rossmore was “Mr. Rossmore,” said Pearle,
going to hurl at any of them, any “we’re discussing human beings
moment. He therefore tried to pardon me, Martians and when—
choose his words with care: you discuss them as impersonally
“It is our purpose to utilize the and cruelly as we’ve been discuss-
tremendous resources on Mars for ing them, we’re manufacturing hell,
the greatest good of the greatest which is on the other side of re-
number of people ... er ... re- ligion.”
gardless of how it may affect the Pearle stopped for the moment.
Martians.” He was one of the richest men in
“Nuts,” said Rossmore. “We six the world. He majored in trans-
men control more wealth than any —
portation air lines, trucking, steam-
other six men on Earth. wantWe ships; and now that the spacelanes
to control more wealth before some- had been opened up a mere twenty
body beats us to it. We
want to years ago with the first landing oil
exploit Mars for the greatest good Mars, he was beginning to manu-
of our already bulging pocketbooks.” facture spaceships.

GIFT HOHSE 117


He said, just as slowly, “I don’t none of us was deterred in his
think I care for the trend of this decision because of possible blood-
discussion we’ve had tonight. I —
shed even Pearle, until liis so-
don’t think I care to fatten my al- called conscience began to stir. We
ready bulging pocketbook, as Mr. didn’t agree on Mr. Waverly ’s
Rossrnore sarcastically remarked. euphemistically worded ‘forceful
I don’t think I have the slightest belligerency’ simply because I
interest any more in exploiting Mars showed that it was impractical.
at theexpense of anybody. I’ve “In the first place, after more
done an honest business so far, and than six hundred years without war.
I’m to old now to change my ways.” people the world over are crazy for
Pearle said simply, “Gentlemen, peace. They’re so tickled to death
I’m walking out on the plot. Good with the record that they’re going to
night . Raoul, you’re coming
. . make peace last another century,
with me?” and another one after that. The
De Grafton’s face wore a stricken craze is self-perpetuating. They’d
expression. “No,” he said in a stop a Marto-Tellurian war lie fore
muffled voice. we got started.
“Good night, gentlemen,” Pearle “Anyway, war against the Mar-
repeated and left the room. tians wouldn’t serve the purpose.
Look wars the United
at the rotten
There was a silence, while Ross- States America waged on the
of
more's face grew hard. Amerindians. The barbarians were
Waverly sniffed, “Lily-liver.” He almost exterminated and then the
looked at Rossrnore. “I still de- very ferocity of the process back-
mand a retraction of that state- fired and laws were made to protect
ment.” them. Now there are more Amer-
De Grafton’s voice was pained, indians than there were when Eric-
haunted. He said with an effort, son discovered America! And lib-
“We’ll conduct our business as if eral legislation has given them a
Mr. Pearle had not interrupted us few million square miles of land
with his unwelcome decision. If I even we couldn’t touch. Just try to
recall correctly, Mr. Waverly merely kill the Martians. In a couple of
remarked that the . ah . . proce- . . . centuries they’d be springing up like
dure of forceful belligerency should weeds right in the middlerif our
be employed as a means of securing garden.”
Martian co-operation. He later on De Grafton said heavily, “We
agreed the method had better be dis- wouldn't be here to worry about
carded because uh .blood-
. . , . , that.”
shed might result.” “No. We wouldn’t. We’ll be
U
Might result ?” Rossrnore dead. But remember: We aren’t
brought his attention back from the men who are talking, we’re corpora-
door through which Pearle had dis- tions. Corporations are immortal
appeared. “As a matter of fact, and as such they’ve got a perfect
us '
ASTOUNDING SCIENCE-FICTION

right to plan their lives a thousand certain seasons. We


know that each
years ahead. If they don’t, they family possesses a parcel of land
find they’ve forfeited their immor- which is equal in value to every
tality.” other parcel and we know that the
;

Waverly was sitting on his back- whole of these parcels comprise


bone, sneering. “Why don’t you Mars. Because of this system, the
suggest something? We’ve men- population of Mars must remain at
tioned a half-dozen different kinds an exact level, neither increasing
of legislation for getting around the nor decreasing. We
know the unit
Martians’ fool economic system. of exchange is based on land-values,
You squashed them by pointing out which arc constant. And we know
that we couldn’t legislate against that by acquiring one parcel of land,
the Martians unless their body of we’d automatically cause not only a
laws was incorporated into our own. shift in land-values but in the unit
We suggested continuing our pres- of exchange and the population
;

ent procedure of trying to buy land would be imbalanced. Quod erat


from individual Martians — demonstratum.
“Bv chiseling?” “Doesn’t it seem reasonable in the
“We haven’t been chiseling!” face of all this to assume that our
“Chiseling! What else would constant failures in land-buying
you call it? You take advantage of may stem directly from the imperial
the fact that Martians are essentially order of liis Imperial Stuff the
ignorant farmers, peasant-types, Tjart?”
with no knowledge of the real, even-
Waverly, still simmering, said
tual value of their land. You offer
darkly, “Talk on. You’re accom-
them through your agents penny- plishing not a thing. AH you do is
pinching sums which look pretty
show us why we can’t get control
good to them well, never mind.
. . .
of the planet.”
We know now they wouldn’t accept
Rossmore laughed aloud, a sud-
no matter what you offered. Not
den barking sound, and his hand
unless the Tjart, the current benev-
shot out across the table, the index
olent ruler, gave them permission.”
finger transfixing Waverly.
One of the other men interjected “
dubiously, “Some of us doubt they That’s what I’ve been trying to
need the permission of the Tjart.” get you to admit That we are after
:

“Because,” said Rossmore pa- control, so we can exploit its re-


tiently, “none of us has any real in- sources. Now we’re getting some
sight into the Martian economic sys- place. Gentlemen, I believe all of us

tem. We have the main facts. We now see that the only way to secure
know the population of the planet lasting control of Mars is first of
is roughly nine million. know We all to destroy the economic system,

they utilize a complex system of ir- and with that wedge, to exterminate
rigation to make extremely
their the population.
impoverished land crop-bearing at “Are we agreed on that ?”

GIFT HORSE) no
” ”

Once more the men shifted un- Rodney King — this was almost a
easily. De Grafton, with a helpless
— full hundred years —leaned
later
gesture, “But you said against the bulkhead in the gaming
“That I was against exterminating room aboard the Deimos Queen.
the Martians ? Oh, no. No, gentle- The Deimos Queen had driven
men, what I am about to propose straight down from Pluto without
now legal, aboveboard, and, I
is any way-stops, and it was only a
might add, almost completely moral. matter of a few hours before she
You remember I said that corpora- docked at Marsport. For which
tions, inorder to preserve their im- Rodney King was more than glad.
mortality privileges, must lay plans As one of the few mining engineers
which consider future centuries? who really knew Pluto, he had spent
This is such a plan. Let’s see how more time there than was good for
it appeals to you.” his leg. He had been forced to
Rossmore talked for an hour, and walk with a slight limp under
more answered ques-
for a half hour Pluto’s one-and-a-half gravities be-

tions. Then he sat down, and de cause his right leg was affected by
Grafton got up. De Grafton said, a youthful siege of poliomyelitis,
“Gentlemen, it is my considered and he was now on his way to Mars
opinion that the plan will work. because the camp doctor on Pluto
Moreover, I doubt if any man in had told him Mars’ lesser gravity
this room has the pure genius >r
might have a palliative and perhaps
creating slow murder that Mr. Ro s- a curative influence.
more exhibits. I presume I am now
“Know anything about Mars?”
supposed to call for a vote?” the medico had asked.
“Well, no. Except they say it’s
He smiled. He shoved back is ,r
a pretty rough place.
chair. “I’m sorry. I herewith -
“You said it. I thought these
sign as chairman of this gr<" i.
backwoods planets were the ulti-
Who’s with me?”
mate in hell-and-tarnation until I
Two more men stood up. One spent a month on Mars. For a so-
looked directly at Rossmore. “Mr.
called civilized planet, with all the
Rossmore, you can go to hell.” modern advantages, the place cer-
The other man said nothing, hut tainly lives up to its name. Not that
.shook his head slowly back a id I ever saw anything myself it’s just :

forth. Together the three men t :

the stories that leak out. If you


the room, leaving Rossmore a d stick to the ordinary tourists’ routes,
Waverly sitting facing each othei see, you’ll by-pass the trouble and
Neither man moved. Then \V corruption, but if you don’t

erly smiled a crooked smile. “Wh h Rodney had smiled. “Doc, with
proves that all is not wickednes my leg, I’m a tourist.”
except us. Rossmore, maybe t Rodney was slightly supporting
and I can swing this thing himself on his cane, now, his com-
gether ?” pletely pleasant and friendly face

130 ASTOUNDINO SCIENCE-FICTION



studying the feverishly betting men Diamond cufflinks glittered — or,
and women at the wheels and boards. Rodney thought, they might be one
The cane was useful. Somewhat of the new gems dug out of Pluto
melodramatically, the pressure of a in the last few years.
thumb on a button in the handle of The Martian was drunk. Yet
the cane would release an eight-inch his deportment was perfect, for
knife blade from the tip. He had whenever, in his labored attempt to
never drawn blood with it. Yet it keep upright, he brushed against
had settled many a potential battle one of the Earth girls standing on
during the four years of his tenure either of him, his apologies were
on Pluto. brief and to the point. Then he
There were several Martians, both continued with his betting.
men and women, in the gaming Finally he stopped betting, turned
room. At least, people referred to anT left, weaving in a growing stag-
them as men and women for want ger from the gaming room. Rod-
of better words. They definitely ney suspected the fellow had run
were not homo sapiens, although through a considerable fortune in
there were not many apparent dif- the hour he had stood at the betting
ferences. They had double-lidded table. Very possibly it might have
eyes —

protection against sand- been his entire fortune.
storms? evolutionists wondered Yet the other Martians in the
an extra joint in the little finger,
room seemed in one degree or an-
forty-three teeth, and, in the right other to have drunk one too many,
light, little golden dancing spots and, likewise, were throwing money
beneath their singularly Caucasian away like water.
skin. Besides these few more or
A gong sounded, signaling that
less visible differences, interior dif-
the landing-spiral had been com-
ferences were more numerous, and
puted, and Rodney turned abruptly
it was said there were several extra
and sought his stateroom where he
vital organs.
completed his packing. He felt a
Somehow, however, you could measure of excitement at the pros-
always tell immediately who was a pect of seeing Mars for the first
Martian and who wasn't. time, and, too, there were many as-
Rodney King was more interested pects about the planet which puzzled
in. one person in the room that in him. The planet was to Earth what
all the others combined. This was India had been to the British sev-
a Martian, a tremendously virile eral hundred years ago: a source of
man who filled out his dinner suit to fabulously valuable raw materials.
a fault. He had snapping black But where the Martians fitted into
eyes, a powerful jaw framing his this picture was simply unknown
square, strong face, which, for all to most people. There had been
of that, showed the unmistakable very little published. Rodney won-
lines and hollows of dissipation. dered why.
121
GIFT HORSE
Little more than an hour later, his briefcase. “Brother, I’m going
Rodney emerged from the depot to ask you to sign this petition,
onto a traffic-busy street which was which will be presented to the Tjart
so generously lighted, so completely of Mars. Where were you born?
metropolitan, that the stars in a Marsport? Fontanaland? Canal
midnight sky were dimmed. City?”
He stood on a street corner, mar- "I was born,” said Rod, suspect-
veling at the complete Earthliness ing he was pricking a bubble, “in
of the scene. There was an all- a little town outside Quebec, Canada,
night restaurant across the street, on the planet Earth.”
and a block farther on he saw a The man faltered. The light died
towering monolith which must be from his eyes. A wounded expres-
the Hotel de Mars. (The ‘de’ was sion appeared on his face. With a
rather a fancy touch.) Yet, he muttered word, he closed the brief-
didn’t feel like going directly to the case, lowered his head and went on
hotel, and he wasn’t hungry, so he past Rod without even a thank you.
started wandering up the avenue. Rod turned and stood looking after
Just then a man in a rather worn him, his face blank.
suit, with a brief case under his “Well, well,” he said to himself,
arm, and glasses hanging on his thin and continued his pace up the ave-
nose, came up to Rodney and barred nue, trying to figure that one out.
his way. Rodney stopped, be- It seemed to him that anybody look-
musedly. The man looked at Rod- ing at him could tell he was a tour-
ney with an air of concentrated de- ist,and had never been on Mars
termination. before in his life. To anybody, per-
“You’re a human being, aren’t haps, except somebody wearing
you?” he demanded. glasses because he was nearsighted.
“Huh?” Rodney said, “Yes, of That, of course, was it.
course.” Rod didn’t see much sense in the
“Do you think it’s right for Moon- petition. It seemed to him that if
born human beings to call them- you wanted to call yourself a Mar-
selves Lunarians instead of Tel- tian, you could call yourself a Mar-
lurians ?” tian, and who cared?
Inwardly, Rod was frowning. He Two blocks farther up the street,
said politely, "I don’t see why they he had his second adventure. He
shorildn’t call themselves Lunarians was crossing the street, having de-
if they were born on the Moon.” cided after all to go back to the
“Then why,” the man cried all-night restaurant, when some-
fiercely,“shouldn’t Mars-born hu- body going past lurched against
man beings have the right to call him. It was the handsome Martian
themselves Martians?” of the gaming room.
“Well, I think they should.” The Martian bowed quickly, and
“Ah-ha! You’re one of us!” said in a slurred voice, “I humbly
Eagerly, the man was diving into beg your pardon,” and he held a
122 ASTOUNDING! SCIENCE- FICTION
GIFT HOIlSJfl
card out to Rodney. “My name hit the alley wall. Rodney pressed
and address, sir, and if you should the button on the handle of his cane
feel obliged to hold rancor against and the eight-inch knife blade
me, I will be glad to discuss a duel.” zipped out with an audible sound.
“Well, hardly/’ laughed Rodney. The Martian struggled to his feet,
He took the card, but almost before and started to plow into the three
he stopped speaking, the Martian men. Rodney caught him by the
turned, and staggered across the collar and twisted him so he stag-
street with his hatless head down, gered back against the wall.
his big hands jammed deep in his The three men stood looking at
pockets. Blind drunk. the knifeblade. The one who had
Two single- wheel gyromobiles been about to kill the Martian looked
barely missed him. He stopped in down at liis numbed hand and then
time to keep from being run down up at Rodney. His face was brutal.
by a watertruck. The driver snarled Yet there was amazement in his
out the window, “Stinking Mar- eyes.
tian !" And Rodney followed after “Who do you think you are?" he
the Martian, disdaining the over- croaked. “Robin Hood?"
head escalator. He found himself “Fade," said Rodney.
limping only slightly, and thought :e i “Fade yourself, tenderfoot. This
shouldn’t have any trouble keeping isn’tany of your business. You’re
up with him. monkeying with something that’s
He followed for five blocks. Sud- bigger and wider than six of you."
denly the Martian stopped in vui But Rodney pushed the cane for-
stride, raising his magnificent he" 1. ward another inch. The man who
He turned quickly and broke had spoken looked at Rodney closely,
a stumbling run. He darted intj then at the Martian, who had slid
a side alley, and Rodney, puzzled, down the wall to a sitting position
saw three men with hats pulled -v 1 and was sick. “All right, Senzi.
over their eyes walk quickly do 1 There’ll be another time — for you
the street and into the alley after and your friend.”
him. The three men turned and walked
“Oh, oli." Rodney didn’t like t’^ quickly away.
looks of it, especially when he ^ •

to the alley and saw the three rr Rodney pushed the cane down on
running. They blurred into he the alley pavement and the «knife.
darker shadows, and suddenly R forced itself against its springs and
ney heard a muffled outcry. Rod •
went back into place with a click;
broke into a run himself, ?• -
He helped the Martian— Senzi— to
reached the melee in time to see his feet. The man lolled and stag-
knife coming down. He swept t gered, and with a strange feeling of
cane in a wide arc. It caught 4
exhilaration, Rodney walked him
knife at the hilt. The knife slamm 5
back to the main street. Here he
through the air and tinkled as '
caught a gyro-taxi, and told the
124 ASTOUNDING SCIENCE-FICTION

driver to go to the Hotel de Mars. his hand. Then he sucked in his


The driver had to get out and help breath. “Say, wait a minute. Did
Senzi in. the guys you saved this Martian
“Friend of yours?” he panted. from see you?”
“Well, no. He’s drunk, and some- “Well, naturally I —
body tried to kill him.” Rodney The driver hurriedly got back
closed the door, and the driver into his cab, looking worried, and
grinned strangely. drove away. Rodney frowned after
“You telling me ? They’re always him, then shrugged. He slapped
drunk and somebody’s always try- Senzi’s face lightly, and the Mar-
ing to kill them.” tian’s eyes opened. He looked
When they were underway, Rod- groggily at Rodney. There was a
ney leaned forward. “Who’d have slight phosphorescent greenishness
it in for him, though?” in his eyes, even through the second-
The driver looked back in aston- ary eyelids, which were not open.
ishment. Then, “I guess you’re “Chin up, now, Senzi. We’re go-
new on Mars?” ing in.”
“I came in on the Dcimos Queen.” He put his arm under Senzi, and
“Oh, yeah. Well, they were after in that manner reached the registra-
his inheritance.” tion desk. He told the clerk his
“His inheritance? Who’s after bags were being sent from the depot
his inheritance?” and that he had a suite reserved.
“Some of his cousins, naturally.” He signed and started for the eleva-
The driver frowned. “Ya see, it’s tor after taking the key, but the
a pretty complicated deal.” clerk barred his way, his eyes show-
“I guess so! In the first place, ing his apprehension.
the men who attacked him weren’t “I’m sorry, sir, there’s a house
his cousins by a long shot. They rule
—” He broke off, looking at
were human beings.” Senzi.
The driver turned a corner, chose “He’ll be all right,” Rodney said.
a right-hand dip-down and roared He roughly brushed past. “I’ll

along at seventy miles an hour. The vouch for him.”


driver shouted, “Don't make any He got up to the suite without
difference. Sometimes they do their anybody else stopping him. Senzi
own dirty work, but they’ve all got was getting like a rag doll. When
Guild licenses.” The rush and roar they reached the couch, he dropped
of traffic was too much for Rodney to a sitting position, then lolled.
to hear the rest of it, and he leaned Around him hovered an aura of
back in disgust. alcoholic fumes. He was actually
Rodney got out of the cab a few stinking drunk. Rodney pressed the
moments later at the side entrance deskbutton on the house video and
of the Hotel de Mars. ordered strong black coffee. But
“All right now?” the driver de- when the coffee came, Senzi was
manded as Rodney thrust a bill in dead to the world and Rodney

GIFT HORSE 129


!

couldn’t shake him awake. He made regarding him with frownlines gath-
a disgusted sound in his throat, let ered between his rather wide-set,
the coffee stand, took a shower, and pleasant eyes. Senzi bolstered his
went to bed. He lay in the dark, chin in his palms, muttering to him-
trying to figure himself out. He self.
suspected he was embroiled in some- Rod said cautiously, “I don’t think
thing that wasn’t exactly healthy. I'd want to be a Martian, Senzi.
Why had he ? But he knew. A sort And I can’t remember any other
of diabolical curiosity, like a devil human being who wants to be a
in his soul. Martian.”
He awoke in the middle of the Except, lie thought, the goon who
night. had accosted him on the street with
“So they wanna be Martians, huh a petition.
!”
So they wanna be Martians Senzi said, “They wanna call
It was Senzi. He was stumbling themselves Martians. Wising up.
around in the dark. Something Next step is to kick us out. No,
crashed. He was talking in a loud sir. Tjart won’t stand for it. Told
voice. Hurriedly Rodney left the me so himself. Earthmcn made
bedroom, waved his hand through suckers out of themselves, let 'em
the light-activator. Senzi swung keep on being suckers.”
around toward him, his four-in-hand
“They want to kick you out?”
hanging loose from his strong puls-
Rod was patient. “Off the planet?
ing throat.
How come they want to call them-
“So you wanna be a Martian, selves Martians, Senzi ?’*

huh!” he roared and charged Rod-


Suddenly he was recalling some-
ney, but it was nothing to trip him.
thing from deep in his memory.
Senzi looked up at him with definite
Maybe just a little item in a news-
distaste.
paper somewhere that had made no
“Foolish human beings,” he mut- impression on him at the time.
tered. “Foolish, foolish, foolish hu- Mars-born human beings on Mars,
man beings.” it was said, were agitating for the
“Oh, I don’t know,” Rod said right to call themselves Martians.
mildly. He offered Senzi his hand No reasons given.
and Senzi took it.

'“Suckers,” he said scornfully as Senzi muttered for a few mo-


Rod pulled him erect. “Suckers, to ments in an outre language. He
use the human idiom. Only now brought his head up. “You know
you’re catching on and you all why,” he scowled. “They envy us.
wanna be Martians.” Richest race in the universe. Money
He began rubbing his black-haired to burn. Jealous of us because
head dazedly. Rod led him to a we had the brains to make a good
chair and forced him into it. Then deal. They realize their own in-
he sat down opposite the Martian, feriority. That’s why. Call them-

12 # ASTOUNDINO SCIENCE-FICTION
” ?

selves Martians and they’ll figure ish eyes with his own mild brown
they’re our equals.” ones.
“I think you’re off the track, "You remember I saved your life

Senzi.” this evening,Senzi?” he demanded.


!”
The Martian for the first time "I do indeed
seemed to realize what he had said, "And you don’t think I saved
and to a human being. He rose your life because I wanted your
stiffly, reached into an inside pocket favor as a superior being?”
and drew out a card. “I humbly Senzi laughed nervously. "When
beg your pardon. If I have of- I speak of human beings, I refer
fended you
— to those who spend their lives on
Rod came quietly to his feet, took Mars. And it’s apparent you’re
the card, and snapped it twirling ignorant of Mars and Martian ways
across the room. The mild pleasant- entirely.”
ness was gone from his eyes. "Why ?”

"Senzi,” he said, "you’re right “Well —because you dared to save


you’ve offended me, principly be- my life.”
cause I’ve already been offered one "And that’s exactly what I’m
duel from you this evening!” getting at. I think that by saving
He regretted the burst of temper your life, I’ve imperiled my own.
just as quickly. “Senzi, let’s both Is that true?”
just sit down and behave. And "It’s true,” Senzi said, sadly, and
don’t sling me
heavy melodrama.
the he radiated a complete lack of hope.
Do you always go around suggest- "My cousin, whichever one is after
ing duels to people whenever you me, will have to pay the assassins
look at them cross-eyed?” a double fee because my cousin
Senzi shrugged and sat down did not tell them I would have
with elaborate care. "It’s the sys- protection. That he didn’t know I
tem we live under. The old Code had protection makes no difference.
has been revived. There is a glo- In addition to the regular fee, he’ll
rious freedom of action among have to add another fee to dispose
Martians which has not been fash- of my protector. That’s you. Oth-
ionable in over two thousand years. erwise the assassins won’t take over
Now the suckers realize
—” lie the account. Understand?”
stopped, broke into a half-startled v "No.”
half-sheepish grin. It was appar- Senzi’s eyes sparkled. "Come to
ent he had almost reached sobriety. think ofit,” he exclaimed, leaping to

Rod chose the opportunity to light his feet, "perhaps I can have my

himself a cigarette, and belatedly, to cousin assassinated before he gives


offer Senzi one. Senzi took it, in- the assassins new instructions.”
haled with pleasure, and finally told Then the light died from his face.
Rod that perhaps some coffee — He sat down, discouraged. He said
After he’d ordered it, Rod leaned hopelessly, "I don’t know which
forward, transfixing Senzi’s green- cousin it is.”

GIFT HORSE 127


” — .

The coffee came. Almost at the is much to be desired. Human be-


same time, Rodney noticed that it ings have to work. Martians don’t
was almost complete daylight out- —such a thing is unheard of. That
side. There were signs of renewed seems to be a natural basis for
activity on the streets. Rodney jealousy."
drained a cup of coffee and said Rodney shifted impatiently in his
grimly, “ Senzi, in my own interests. chair, his eyes showing his disbelief.
I've got to learn a few things about “But that’s utter nonsense. It’s the
Mars. You’re the only sounding- kind of thing a scandal sheet, serv-
board I’ve got. So, until I’m either
. ing an outside interest, might print.
free of this mess or dead, I'm go- There’s a political implication in
ing to trail along with you.” this refusal to allow human beings
“It will be a pleasure,” said Sen bom here to refer to themselves
face lighting with what seemed a legally as Martians. You’re sure,"
genuine enthusiasm. “I’ll tell he said, struck by a sudden thought,
what. The Tjart has invited me “that the Earth government hasn’t
spend the week with him at brought pressure to bear on the
estate. You go with me. The\ Tjart?"
got dueling ranges
— Senzi looked up. “That,” he
“Thanks — for the invitation, i said, “is a possibility."
the duels. So you know the Tja Rodney dragged up a footstool
Senzi waved a casual ha and spread his legs out. His mind
shrugging. “We are related. Chan was working full blast. It was abso-
are I’ll be the next Tjart if I si lutely dumbfounding. He was liter-
in his favor." ally discovering a new civilization,
“Is that so What about
! a new code of ideas, a strange net-
sons?” work of Marto-hunian relations
“Dead. Either duels or assassi which, to his recollection, completely
I happen to be his favorite nephe failed to appear in the newspapers,
Rodney another cigarette,
lit at least the more widely circulated
ing a trifle giddy. But he allo\' ones. Who owned the newspapers ?

himself to be thrown off baJai He ran down the list of chains.


for that second, no more, T ransplanetary Glassworks — one of
launched another attack. “You the biggest companies on Mars
the Tjart is strictly against all; was either connected with thirty of
ing Mars-born human beings to the biggest newspapers in a sub- -

themselves Martians. Why?” sidiary manner or else was one of


Senzi crossed his legs and fro\ their biggest advertisers. And there

ingly swirled coffee in the cup. other companies which either
•ere
my understanding,” he said, a? wned, or were owned by, the big
not sure of himself, “that the f >
ews distributors.
tion which urges it —
and sflmosi “Maybe I get it, Senzi. Listen
human beings on Mars belon •o this Mars
: is considered a colony

it — feel that equality with Mart >f the United World Government
1*8 ASTOUNDING SCI RN CE- FICTION

that’s Earth. So are most of the It seems impossible that somebody


other planets, except the Moon, hasn’t thought of it.”
which secured its independence ten Rodney laughed, and rose, stretch-
years ago. As I recall it, the politi- ing. “Take my word for it, some-
cians yowled to high heaven when body has thought of it. The people
the Moon was let go. Maybe they’re to whose interest it is to keep Mars
attacking Martian ideas of independ- an Earth colony. O.K., Senzi. You
ence at the roots.” want to take a shower before we
“That may be so,” Senzi said shove off?”
politely, and it was apparent that
he was not following the line of The monorail train zipped away
reasoning; more, had lost interest. from the outskirts of Marsport, and
He looked at his single-handed fin- suddenly was inclosed by the color-
ger watch. “Perhaps we can make ful glory of what might be described
the early morning monorail to my as a fertile desert. This was an
uncle’s oasis, Mr. ?” — equatorial climate and the desert
“King. Rodney King. But call plants were in full bloom. There
me Rodney, please. Now just a were trees, shrubs, and crawling
minute!” Rodney leaned forward, vines. Most of them were un-
his eyes intense on nothing, al- familiar to Rodney King, but then
though he was apparently looking again there were many that he
at the rug, “I think that’s it, Senzi. recognized. These were ocotillo,
That has to be
it. No matter what yucca, prickly pear, giant sahuara,
the surface reasons are, there’s a Joshua trees, pepper trees, and the
cunning psychological idea at* the ordinary varieties of cactus and
hack of it. Look what happened to succulentia. They had been im-
the English colonists who settled in ported decades ago from Earth.
America. They started calling Indeed, it was thought that sooner
themselves Americans. Look at or later they would crowd the Mar-
the Canadians. The Australians, tian variety of vegetation off the
who couldn’t stand to be called col- planet. The reasons for this were
onials. The Filipinos. The Mexi- obvious. Water was being brought
cans. The minute they identified from Venus in ever-increasing quan-
themselves with a common name, tities.And there were at least three
they unified themselves. They be- air-manufacturing plants on the
gan yipping for independence. Now planet which were steadily increas-
people who were born on Mars ing the atmospheric pressure. In
want to call themselves Martians
— the last fifty years it had already
Senzi laughed unexpectedly. Rod- been raised five pounds to the square
ney looked up, startled. He liqd inch. Sooner or later, there would
really been talking to himself. Seazi be a climate roughly similar to that
said, “I took a course in Earth of Earth. Whether or not this was
history. Your facts may not be good from the Martian standpoint,
accurate, but the idea is a good one. Rodney didn’t know. Yet the very
GIFT HORSE 129
gradualness of the change was ap- them, sooner or later they’d come
parently allowing the Martians to to resent that, too.”
adapt themselves to it. Senzi, at “You discriminate against them!”
any rate, appeared to be a thor- Rodney’s mouth fell open ludi-
oughly healthy specimen. crously.
Ever since he had taken his seat, “Well, after all, it is our planet.
Rodney had had a gnawing sense of And there’ve been some very ad-
nervousness. All the Martians on vanced scientific studies made of
the train had been herded into the the differences between human .be-
rear car. They now filled all ex- ings and Martians which indicate
cept five or six seats. When Rod- we might be an evolutionary step
ney had explained to the conductor ahead of them. Present personali-
that he was traveling with Senzi, ties excepted,” he added hastily.
the conductor had him
looked at as Impulsively, he dropped his big
if he were crazy, and suggested he hand on Rodney’s forearm. “For-
sit in one of the forward cars with give me if I seem outspoken, but
the human beings. Rodney had you admit that I’m your only
spurned the offer somewhat curtly. sounding board in Martian mat-
“I don’t get it !” he exclaimed, as ters.”
soon as the whir of the overhead “Oh, that’s quite all right.” Rod
wheels made his voice audible only had relaxed, drumming exasper-
to Senzi. He had turned his head atedly with his fingers. At last he
in jerky movements, looking at the said quietly, “Senzi, how many
other Martians, men, women and human beings are there on Mars?”
children. “This looks to me like “About . . . well, I don’t keep
!”
discrimination, Senzi up with the census, but perhaps ten
Senzi, completely sober and look- or fifteen million.”
ing like a fashion plate, betrayed his “How many Martians?”
own nervousness. His hand crept Senzi frowned. “A million. I’d
inside his coat several times, and say.”
Rodney realized with a shock that “And it's your belief that this
he was probably carrying a gun. He planet belongs to you Martians?”
answered after a moment, almost Senzi nodded definitely. “It is.
absently. I don't completely understand the
“Perhaps it does seem strange to various legal ramifications, but the
a‘person new on Mars, Rod. But whole planet is under the control
you know how it is. When you're of Earth corporations only by virtue
trained in these things from child- of a sixty-nine year lease. The
hood up, you can’t help yourself. lease can then be renewed, unless
I myself have been very liberal in we Martians should choose to break
the matter, but I find it better to the lease by paying a sum equal to
adhere to the conventions. doWe ten percent of the original rental
discriminate against human beings, plus the cost of the improvements on
but X suppose if wc mingled with the land. As I recall it, it was a very

130 ASTOUNDING SCIENCE-FICTION



foolish deal, as far as the Earth- call thesepayments our inheritance.
men are concerned, because the Although we also inherit money
original amount they paid us, plus from our parents in equal amounts.”
the equal amount paid to each new Rodney felt a chill in his brain.
generation, far overshadows any There was an arithmetic here that
possible profit the planet has actual- was diabolical. How, he couldn’t
ly given the corporations so far. yet decide. Yet, if he had time
And the joker is that as soon as to mull that over, to look into it
Mars does begin to show a profit, a little more deeply, including all
wc can lay plans to buy the lease outside implications and maybe
at the end of a sixty-nine-year knowledge that he didn’t yet have,

period the year being a Martian he’d •come up with an answer that
year, of course.” He looked was filthy in its utter inhumaneness.
amusedly down at Rodney, as if he He held himself rigid, not daring to
were enjoying himself. say what was in his mind. He
turned his eyes to the desert land-
Rodney lighted a cigarette with a scape, and tried to imagine what
jerky movement and shook his head Mars had been like a hundred years
savagely. “It doesn’t sound right, ago, when Earthmen had just
somehow, Scnzi! Earthmcn aren't landed on the planet. Martians
suckers, particularly
corporations. managed to survive at that time by
It’s my knew what they
belief they means of irrigation from the polar
were doing. What
did you mean by regions. They had been farmers,
saying that an equal amount is paid agriculturists —
somewhat of a para-
to each new generation?” dox. Yet it was easy to imagine
“An amount equal to that paid to that their produce had been of a
the original owners of each parcel dehydrated type, and that Martians
of land,” Senzi explained. “The were accustomed to that type of
lease on each parcel of land was fare. They had been ignorant, pov-
taken up by what amounts to about erty-stricken, undoubtedly. Now, a
a million universal credit units hundred years later, they actually
we’ll say it’s million for conven- were the richest race in the Solar
ience. This million univers be- System. But Rodney King began
longed to the Martians who owned to wonder if they hadn’t retained,
the land. Each of his children, or enlarged upon, their ignorance.
when they reached the legal age of In some respects, Senzi's outlook
ten Martian years, had an additional reflected an abysmal ignorance, an
million univers split between them inability to look deeper than the
— it amounted to the second pay- superficial or the apparent. Were
ment from the corporations. Then the rest of his race caught in that
the next —
generation stemming same net?
from the original owners had a — His thoughts were interrupted.
third payment of a million univers The monorail jolted, the wheels
to divide. And so on down. We grated upon the overhead rail from

GIFT HOHSM 131


132 ASTOUNDING SCIENCE-FICTION
which the train suspended itself, ring sound diminished in volume.
and then there was a series of jerks The car containing the Martians
and a long, sustained squeal as the swung slightly, pendulum-wise.
entire series of cars came to a stop. Senzi was definitely swearing.
Before anybody in the car could He brought his head back, panting
show a reaction, the conductor slightly. “They’ve done it. Gone
shoved open the sliding doors, his away and left us. It’s too bad.
face paste-white. They’re after somebody in the car.
“G-gentlemen,” he stuttered Probably us.”
hoarsely, “we’ve b-been stopped. “Us?"
We’ve been given permission to go A wry humor showed on Senzi’s
ahead if we detach the rear car. In smooth face as he looked at Rod-
accordance with provision 60A, ney. “Yes, Rod. Remember they
item 9a of the Marto-Tellurian Code were on my track.” He said hastily,
of Laws, as signed in perpetuity by “But perhaps it's someone else.”
Tjart XXIV, a public carrier of “But why did they go away and
human ownership waives responsi- leave us?” Rodney exploded.
bility for the safety of Martians “Because the assassins stopped
who are present as passengers on the train and gave the engineer
aforesaid public carrier,” and he orders. Don’t worry, the engineer
slammed the doors and disappeared. did what his company tells him to do
in cases like this. And after all,

Instantly, every Martian in the you can’t blame them.”


carwas on his feet. Senzi flicked “Can’t blame them ?” Rodney said
away from the seat, darted up the in amazement. “What kind of a
aisle and wrenched hard at the knob planet is this, anyway? The public
of the closed door. It didn’t open. carrier is always responsible for the
He turned, his expression superbly safety of its passengers.. At least
controlled. The Martians broke in any decent place. If this sort
into exclamations, orderly protesta- of thing happens very frequently,
tions in their own language. Not why don’t they have armed guards
one of them lost his head. Senzi stationed in the cars ?”
came back to the seat, shoving other Senzi looked perturbed. “This
Martians out of the way. He must be very different from what
wrapped a handkerchief around his you’re accustomed to,” he said un-
list and broke out the window glass easily. “But the Assassins Guild
with a muted crash. He leaned far is strictly a Martian matter. It’s
out, part of his weight on Rodney. semilegal. The transportation com-
“Hey!” Rodney said weakly. panies don’t feel that they should
“What is it?” mix into our affairs. For instance,
There was a bump, a jerk, a toot- if the engineer had refused to stop,
ing whistle. There was a vibrating the assassins would have felt they
sound as wheels went into motion had a perfect right to fire on him
on the overhead track. The whir- and any other human being. Then
GIFT HOXSTJ 133
the engineer would liave lost his aisle.They hardly seemed to notice
job.” him. He presumed the assassins
“O.K., O.K.” Rodney snarled. would attempt to enter the car by
"In about ten minutes, if things the only door, in front. He stood
keep on going in the ordained rut, in the corner, to one side of the
you’ll lose your ability to tal!: com- door.
pletely, and so will I. Got an extra Almost before he got settled,
gun ?” something clanged against the other
“I’ll see if I can’t borrow one,” side of the door, as if the lock were
Senzi said doubtfully. being struck with an instrument.
He got up and approached the The monorail car was about twen-
nearest Martian. The Martian ty feet above the ground. The cir-
shook his head vehemently. Senzi cumstances were so fantastic to
approached a few more with the Rodney that he fully expected the
same result. He returned. “It’s assassins must have ascended to the
impossible. They all feel the assas- car via some superscientific device.
sins may be after them. I only It would be in keeping.
have one gun myself. Perhaps you The door slid open. There was
can use your cane.” quiet. Then a large, chunky in-
Rodney made a sound in his dividual with a black bag over his
throat. He didn’t feel in a par- head stepped a few inches into the
ticularly pleasant frame of mind. car. His head turned from side to
Wonderful. So he was supposed to side, and finally the eyeholes rested
sit here until the assassins came. on Rodney. Rodney gave glance
He got halfway to his feet, leaning for glance, as an impersonal malev-
on the back of the seat to keep olence flooded him.
himself slantingly erect. He looked The man spoke, huskily. “What
over the passengers. One and all are you doing here ?”
they were a tense, uneasy bunch. “I don’t think that’s any of your
There were half a dozen women. business,” Rod said flatly.
Two of these held babies. “You should have been in one of
The strange thing about this the front cars with the other human
scene was that the Martians plainly beings.”
were not intending to band together. “I don’t see that it’s any of your
Each person became a separate in- concern what I should or shouldn’t
dividual, wary of his neighbor. do.”
Each person was standing alone in The eyeholes rested on him. *The
the car, waiting his doom, and re- voice spoke amusedly. “You aren’t
fusing to get tangled up in any- dry behind the ears yet, sonny.”
body else’s. The assassin seemed to com-
pletely lose interest in Rodney at
Rodney brushed by Senzi with a that point, and he cleared his throat,
muttered word. He forced his way reaching into his pocket to draw
through the Martians blocking the out a folded paper. The paper
134 .18TODNDTJJO SCIENCE-FICTION
crackled clearly as he opened it. was cracking. Whatever traditions
“I have here,” he announced, “a the ceremony of death demanded,
Guild warrant for the detention of she was forgetting them. She was
two persons occupying this car.”
-
shaking. Her lower lip was quiver-
Rodney caught Senzi’s worried, ing. Her dark eyes began to over-
strained glance. Senzi’s arms hung flow. She would probably have to
loosely at his side. He, nor any of be helped out of the car.
the others, showed any intention Rodney King felt that this ap-
of protecting themselves. Not proached the height of something.
while they were still in the car, At any rate, he'd seen just about
anyYvay. all he could stand. He sought out
Rodney’s eyes fell to the gun Senzi’s eyes irately, but Senzi made
strapped to the hooded man’s hip. pleading motions, shaking his head.
He looked through the open door “O.K.,” Rod said under his
and saw that a mere ladder led from breath. He turned back to the eye-
the sandy floor of the desert to the holes, reached forward and took the
coupling of the car. Standing with gun from the man’s holster. He
one foot on the coupling was an- held the gun on the man for three
other man, hooded also, and, still seconds.
on the ladder, a companion. The man turned toward him
The man holding the warrant again. ‘‘Well, well,” he said. “This
now spoke again: must be a little joke. What’s on
“Quar-El* 'Tain and Mist Orano your mind, sonny? Neither of these
— will you please step forward?” Martians has a protector. Not in
the contract I read, anyway. I’ll
Rodney felt absolutely no relief trouble you for the gun.”
at the reprieve. It was different He held out his gloved hand. He
with Senzi, whose worried frown wiggled his fingers impatiently and
cleared like magic. He grinned at Rodney shoved the gun forward, to
Rodney as if in congratulation. make sure he couldn’t miss. The
Everybody in the car, those gun made a slapping sound. A
whose names had not been called, beam as fine and straight as tautened
thatis, showed a tremendous relief. filament wire stretched from the
They began looking around for the bore of the gun to a spot over the
owners of the names, and two Mar- man’s heart. A
black, charred spot
tians, faces stony-hard, eyes straight appeared instantly in that area and
out front, moved forward. Mar- the man as instantly fell.
tians almost fell over getting out of Rodney stepped to the door and
their way. shot the man standing on the cou-
One was a man. He was making pling. The man had his gun out
an enormous effort to keep his face but he clutched at his throat as he
proud, under control. He was suc- was hit, fell straight back and
ceeding. Rut the girl, who might plunged out of sight down to the
have been twenty Earth-years old, floor of the desert. The assassin
gift worse 133
standing on the ladder yelled hoarse- hand free, he could get into the
ly, and, with his gun out, was car.
in a drop Rodney
fair position to He made it after several more
in his tracks. Rodney shot at the minutes. The car swerved brutally.
gun. The gun turned blue and Rodney came down in a tangle. He
fried two of the man’s fingers away got up, tried to aim the gun and
before it exploded.* Then he was missed. He worked his way for-
screaming and sliding, half falling ward, stood over the driver. The
down the ladder. driver cramped the wheel hard.
Rodney kicked the ladder straight Rodney felt himself flying through
out. The man fell ten feet, lay in the air. He landed on his bad leg.
a huddle on the ground. He skewed around, came down
Twice Rodney fired, but the dis- hard, and powdered sand swirled
tance was too great for him. He around him. Vaguely he saw the
saw the assassin come to his feet gyromobile twenty feet away, poised
and scuttle toward a gyromobile on the tip of a sand dune. It fell
some thirty feet away. Rodney over. backward, righted itself, moved
threw his cane overboard, hung a few feet forward on its single
from the coupling and dropped wheel and then quietly stopped.
fourteen feet. He scooped up the The silence of the desert clamped
cane, feeling nothing but an anxiety down.
that the man would get away. After a while Rodney moved.
He reached the gyromobile just Needles were dancing around in his
as the assassin got it started. It leg. He stepped up to the car and
almost jerked Rodney’s arm off, saw that the driver’s neck was
but he hung on grimly as it ac- broken. He sank slowly to the
celerated. The gyromobile didn’t sand, cross-legged, was one with
have a top, and Rodney's hold was the desert for a long moment. Very
not substantial, since only one arm quietly, he slipped his hand inside
was hooked over the rear seat. His his coat and lighted a cigarette. It
legs streamed out behind him. was there Senzi, alone, found him
The assassin saw him in the rear- a half hour later.
view mirror. He headed straight
out into the desert, zig-zagging, Senzi did all the talking, after
bouncing up and down sand dunes, handing Rodney his cane. He was
trying to dislodge an unwelcome excited. Rodney merely looked at
passenger. Wind streamed tears him. Another train had come by a
out of Rodney’s eyes. It was all he few moments after Senzi dropped
could do to hang on. Stupidly, he from the car and started into the
finally realized that his awkward desert, following the gyromobile
position was due to the cane, which track. It had pushed the abandoned
he was holding in his left hand. car ahead of it with hardly more
Regretfully, he dropped it. Several than a brief stop.
minutes had passed. With his left “But, Rod,” he finished, peering
ASTOUNDING SCIENCE-FICTION
" "

down at Rodney as if terrifically Your complete and


puzzled, “I must confess I wish yon selfishness
— boorishness

hadn’t done it. You've no idea how "Rod!"


foolish it was. The Assassin's Rod lit another cigarette, exhaled,
Guild can now complain to the his eyes moodily following the end-
human authorities in Marsport and less acres of brilliant tropic foliage.
might possibly be able to have you “Protest if you want to, Senzi.
indicted for murder." Challenge me to a duel, which I
Rodney looked at him until Senzi wouldn’t bother to accept, by the
grew uncomfortable, Rodney said way. I’m not insulting you per-
quietly, “I have to congratulate my- sonally. It’s your whole race, the
self. I’m actually acquiring an in- whole million of you. You know.
stinct concerning these matters. I’m an Earthman, and for almost
Having killed one of the assassins, seven hundred years we haven’t had
I intuitively felt Ihad to kill the any war. We’ve even got homicide
others. Now there’s nobody to almost licked. That’s the tradition
snitch. Except the Martians, of I’ve been brought up in. You get
course." to be proud of it. That’s the rea-
!"
"Oh They won’t say anything
! son something in me rebels at the
"Well, now, that’s right nice of way you Martians have been letting
them !I should feel particularly yourself get taken in.”
grateful to the Martians whose lives “We've been taken in!” Senzi ex-
I saved. Maybe I should, approach claimed in amazement. “Why, Rod,
them with a bribe or something so this is absolutely silly. You’re com-
be sure to keep their mouths
they'll pletely at sea. The historical im-
shut." plications of the contract entered
“I’m sure I don’t understand into by the then-Tjart prove that
what you’re talking about," Senzi the human beings concerned didn’t
said stiffly. have the remotest idea of what a
"Skip it! That’s the trouble. poor deal they made. Ask any-
You don’t understand anything. —
body any Martian, any Earthman.
Yott and your people are so busy
crawling around in the muck of We’re rich,

Don’t ask anybody just look at us.
we live like kings,
your own inflated egos that you’ve we —
got a completely two-dimension He was talking excitedly, waving
viewpoint. For instance, the busi- his hands.
ness of herding all the Martians into Rod said, interrupting, and pay-
one car. You choose to believe you ing no attention to Senzi’s frantic
Martians prefer it that way, in order speech, “Senzi, I've had my share
to avoid contamination from human of hard times. had pain. I
I’ve
beings. As a matter of fact, I think went to bed for a whole year and
it’s the other way around. Human had nothing but pain. I hate to
beings probably can’t stand your see how disunified you people are,
insufferable *code’ or whatever it is. the needless misery you inflict on

GIFT HORSB 1ST


each other. I hate to see people interfere in your affair, Senzi, but
trampled on —because I can under- unfortunately they have. They’re
stand pain. That Martian girl on interfering right now. It’s per-
the train, for instance. Somebody fectly obvious to me that your whole
was having her murdered some — way of life is a direct result of the

cousin because her share of that intervention of Earthmen in your
so-called ‘inheritance’ would have affairs. It’s not you who’s respon-
been divided among the remaining sible for all this killing. It’s they.
cousins. In other words, somebody It’s so ridiculously obvious it’s silly.
had gambled or drunk away his And it sounds like a plot that was

money and needed more.” hatched decades ago and is working


His teeth came together. He out exactly as planned. Senzi, how
looked sittewise at the Martian. many Martians were there before
“Senzi, why did you stand there Earthmen landed on Mars?”
perfectly willing to allow her to be He looked up quizzically.
led away to the butcher’s block?” Senzi’s nostrils were distended,
“But Rod, I wasn’t perfectly his fists still clenched. He was
willing!” speechless with some kind of rage.
“You were.” Rod didn't bother to find out which
“I wasn't!” particular statement of his had
Rod looked at him. “You were, rubbed Senzi the wrong way. He
Senzi,” he said quietly. said softly, “You probably don’t
The small muscles around Senzi ’s even know. But I’ll tell you. It
mouth and jaw and nose became was ten or fifteen, perhaps twenty
hard. His eyes became ferocious. millions. The exact figures don't
"I don’t care to hear any more matter. But, now, a century later,
about this,” he grated. there are only a million Martians
Rodney laughed. “Probably not, left. And at the rate you’re going,
and it’s a good sign. It means your it’ll take just about a quarter of a

conscience is stirring.” century more before there aren't


“I have nothing,” said Senzi any Martians at all.”
blackly, “to stir my conscience. We He rubbed at his chin thought-
act according to our own lights. fully, giving a patronizing impres-
We’ve never asked Earthmen to sion of doing some highly involved
interfere in our affairs, nor have figuring. “Let’s see now, Senzi.
we interfered in theirs.” The corporations’
lease on^ this
planet runs for sixty-nine Martians
Rod got up and walked around, years —
one-hundred- forty Earth-
trying out his leg with the help of years roughly. That means that by
the cane. It bothered him hardly the time the Martians are legally
at all. The
had not seemed
fall entitled to possess their land again
to hurt it. As he walked he talked, —provided they have any money
most of his attention on the leg. left to buy the improvements on said
“You’ve never asked Earthmen to land, which they won’t— there won’t
138 ASTOUNDING SCIENCE-FICTION
.

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gift noRSifl 139


be any Martians left. They’ll have they went out and had another cou-
killed themselves off. sin killed.

"I wonder who revived the Assas- "So, Senzi, you Martians were a
sin’s Guild, Senzi? Maybe it was bunch of children and they gave you
the same genius who thought up all the candy you wanted. Killing
this whole long-range plan. The you with goodness. You were the
!”
genius who offered fabulous sums suckers
for leasing privileges. I can imag- He stopped. Senzi was a mono-
ine that the Tjart who approved the lith of carven rock, his handsome

final plan must have been com- face a fish-belly color. Under his
pletely bowled over by such muni- unlidded eyes a furnace of green
ficence. Then, on top of that, to flame brewed hell. His hand flicked
offer an equal sum to each new up and slapped across Rod’s right,

generation well I guess the Tjart
!
and then his left cheek. He turned
abruptly and walked away, slowly
thought the Earthmen were pretty
swell fellows — or else suckers. at first and then faster.
watched him go, saw him disappear
Rod
Probably suckers. The Tjart
snatched up the offer, and being no as the desert foliage closed around
dope himself, made provisions him. He found himself to be
which would allow the Martians to breathing hard. Slowly he looked
get complete possession of the down at the cane in his hand. When
planet again. But that Tjart prob- Senzi struck him he had released
ably didn’t figure on the legalization the eight-inch knife blade, uncon-
of the Assassin's Guild, nor counted sciously. The same bloody impulse,

on the fact that the continued pay- in that moment of dum founded
ments to be divided among each new rage, easily could have taken Senzi’s
generation would provide the neces- life. Why it hadn’t, he would never
sary ‘motive for murder.’ He know.
didn’t think of it. But the Earth-
men did. Rodney King walked all of that
day and most of the night, following
"Canny Earthmen, eh ? They
the monorail trestle back to Mars-
made the Martians the richest race
in the Solar System. Suckers. The
port. The gyromobile with the dead

whole purpose of the plan was to


assassin in it wouldn’t run. On the
outskirts of the city, he caught a
curtail population. The fewer chil-
taxi,and went to the Hotel de Mars,
dren a Martian had the more money
where he immediately stretched out
there’d be to spread amongst them.
on the bed, hands locked behind his
And the more money they had, the
head, eyes fastened on the ceiling.
more likely they were to dissipate. He remembered the Plutonian
The more they dissipated, the more medico’s words if you stick
. .

money they spent and gambled away to the ordinary tourists’ routes
and it all came back to the coffers . . H-m-m-m. He might also
of the Earthmen in the end. Then have mentioned that you should
140 ASTOUNDING SCIENCE-FICTION

keep your mind in a tourist's rut eye against cigarette smoke.
too. “What do you want me to do
He awoke suddenly. It was take the case? Let me tell you
broad daylight outside. He lay something. You’ll never in your
there for a fraction of a second, and life again see anything like legal
the events of the day and night be- conditions on this planet. Martian
fore flashed before his mind like law and human law are in two
the remnants of an improbable separate compartments, with only
nightmare. Then he heard the door a few bridgeheads stretching be-
buzzer, insistently pressed. He tween. Whenever a lawyer estab-
bounded off the bed, brushing his lishes such a bridgehead, he goes
hair back, arranging his clothes. down in legal history with as much
The buzzer must have been what glory as if he’d established a new
awakened him. precedent. Now I can’t establish
He flung open the door, still a new precedent in your behalf, be-
blinking, but insantly his mind was cause your exact crime was com-
flooded with a cold, clarifying wind. mitted once before, and the human
A man with a paunch across which law courts ruled that as far as they
stretched a gold chain stood on the were concerned such a thing as the
threshold, and behind him two uni- Assassin's Guild did not exist. The
formed policemen. defendant in that case was judged
“You're Rodney King?” the man guilty and he’s still up on Deimos
with the paunch demanded. And digging platinum out of the ground.
when Rodney half nodded, he pre- If they could have found a bridge-
sented him with a paper which he head which would have allowed the
whipped out of his pocket. A
war- defense council to yank a few Mar-
rant of arrest. tian witnesses into the case, the said
“What's this for?" Rodney witnesses would have been per-
snapped. mitted to lard their answers to the
“I s’pect, young feller, it’s got examination and cross-examination
to do with murder. But you better with references to the Assassin’s
keep your mouth shut for your own Guild and a nacquittal would prob-
good. Get what you want to take ably have resulted.”
with you and come along." “What do you mean by bridge-
head ?”
At the station they refused him “A typical bridgehead involves
bail,and for two whole days he sat the murder of a human being by a
behind bars before one of the most Martian," the lawyer replied in-
prominent lawyers in town, a Carl stantly. “The Martian would be
Hargrave, came to see him. Rod arraigned before a court composed
told him the whole story, and the of a jury of nine or ten Martians
lawyer leaned back against the wall, —
nine usually and he’d be able to
one leg drawn up and resting on bring in witnesses of bis own race.
the edge of the bunk, squinting an The judge would be bound to ad-
GIFT HORSE 141
” —
minister justice according to the lopsided justice by creating condi-
Marto-Tellurian Code of Laws
— tions which made it impossible for
“Wouldn’t the judge and the de- a Martian to have a defense council
fendant’s lawyer be Martian?” or judge of his own race. And they
The lawyer smiled. “How could ingeniously introduced the term
they be? Martians simply don’t “bridgehead” into the legal system
work. They’re too rich. They as a superficial indicator of their
don’t practice professions. Of good will toward the Martians, yet
course, usually that makes it pretty at the same time making the estab-
hard on the defendant in such a lishing of more than a minimum
trial, but that’s the fault of the Mar- number of “bridgeheads” an im-
tians.” possibility.
“And if a human being murders This lawyer —probably an apt,
a Martian?” forceful personality, yet smug, self-
“Same code of laws, but with a convinced of the axiomatic
satisfied,
human jury of twelve.” righteousness of the legal complexi-
“I see.” Silence descended. ties which to him were their oivn
Rodney sat on the edge of the bunk, raison d'etre. Rodney wondered
elbows on his knees, fingers inter- what he’d say to the unbiased opin-
twining, a black scowl on his face. ions of Mars which he had formed
He felt thoroughly embittered. He since his half- week stay here. The
felt absolutely no remorse for the lawyer, indeed any person who had
cold-blooded killing of three human grown into the Martian social
beings,and he felt less concern for structure over a period of years,
the net of circumstance which had would be unable to see the woods
trapped him than for the Martians for the trees.
against whom an ingenious scheme Bridgehead
of extermination had been worked
out. The very system of laws gov- Rodney said, “You say there are
erning Marto-human relations made other bridgeheads. What if a Mar-
tlie bodily protection of Martians tian and a human being are jointly
by human beings an indefensible responsible for the murder of
crime. Everywhere was the evi- human beings?”
dence that grasping, greedy men had The lawyer looked at him close-
consistently and with plenty of fore- ly. He made a shrugging motion,
thought blocked up every avenue then nodded. “It’s a bridgehead.
along which the Martian life-stream You mean to say — ?”

might escape. They disclaimed any “I don’t mean to say anything.


knowledge of an Assassin’s Guild. I want to think this over. First I
They disclaimed any responsibility want to know if you’ll take my
for Martian lives on public carriers, case.”
probably under the pretext that “Son, if you mean to imply that
Martians did not want their intru- my reputation would be hurt by a
sion. They granted Martians a legal defeat in your case, it
142 ASTOUNDING SCIENCK-FIOTION
wouldn’t. Nobody would expect tioned the conductor on the mono-
me to win in the first place." His rail, who testified you'd been a pas-
face grew grim. “But understand! senger in the abandoned car." The
•I have to have the whole truth, if lawyer came to his feet, took up his
you haven’t yet given it to me. Your hat.
question just now suggests you Rodney said, also rising, “One
might be holding something out." other thing. I have a certain curi-
“I’ll have to think it over," Rod- osity concerning the bargain Mar-
ney said, hesitating just the right tians made with a number of cor-
amount. “My trial’s set a week porations a couple decades after
from tomorrow. I’ll let you know man landed on the planet. Is
first
before then. In the meantime, can there any paper or legal document
you let me know exactly how they or contract which details the terms
pinned these murders on me?" of the deal?”
“Easy. They found your finger- The turnkey was at the cell door,
prints on the murder gun in the back rattling keys, as the lawyer con-
seat of the gyromobile. They wired sidered the question. “I suppose
the prints back to Earth and got there is such a paper or papers . . .

an identification. Later they ques- no, as I recall it, one contract was

GIFT HORSE 143



made.. —
In those days now, too, in ground his teeth, exasperatcdly
a —
way the Tjart had vested in him shoved the typewriter away, and
complete ownership of the planet paced up and down the cell, trying
He leased the whole planet over to to think the thing through, trying
a dozen or so corporations jointly. to make excuses for his decision.
Each corporation has a copy of the In that manner another day
contract, I’d say —
and of course the passed, and in the afternoon some-
present Tjart. Why?” thing happened which changed
“Well, I'd like to spend some of things considerably. The guard
my spare time reading the contract. shoved a newspaper through the cell
Wouldn’t they have a copy of it bars, and at the sight of a fragment
in the public library, say?” of the headline, Rodney pounced on
The other laughed. “Lord, no, the paper, spread it wide, and read.

son. Neither corporations nor gov- The Tjart of Mars had been mur-
ernments put their private business dered !

on display. I’ve never seen a copy


of that contract myself, even though A fter he got over the initial shock

it’s affected the whole social struc- of that, Rodney sat down, reading
ture of the planet.” through the printed matter with
Rodney shrugged, shook hands, lightning glance. The main facts
and the lawyer left. And Rodney were simple. During the height of
thought over the lawyer’s departing a house party, the Tjart had been
words. Surely, by this time, that walking in the garden with a human
contract was of such importance guest, when, the guest testified to
that it belonged in the public the reporters, three hooded men had
domain, like the Declaration of leaped over the wall, grabbed the
American Independence. It now Tjart, thrown him face down to the
seemed entirely possible that the ground, pressed a gun to the back
business interests which controlled of his head and killed him. The
the planet had some definite reason guest had been attacked, but only
for suppressing the legally phrased for the purpose of keeping him
terms of the contract from the pub- from interfering. He lay in the
lic eye. Why? He now wanted to garden, dazed, while the assassins
examine it ten times worse. escaped over the wall.
In the morning, he called for a Rodney thought A
newspaper
:

typewriter from the cell-block can admit the existence of an Assas-


guard. He plugged it in, and for sin’s Guild, but it doesn’t apply in
hours sat looking at the sheet of a court of law.
blank paper. He had a definite idea, The paper dropped from his hand.
a means of establishing a bridge- He sat silently. Then, suddenly,
head, but in some ways it seemed he jumped up and began to hit the
supremely useless, even silly. He typewriter keys. He finished in ten
began typeing late in the afternoon, minutes flat, addressed an envelope,
but tore up start after start. He -inserted the folded sheet of paper.

144 ASTOUNDING SCIENCE-FICTION


and asked the guard to mail it. He realize what you’ve done? I’ve al-
grabbed the bars, chuckling. He ready handed that statement to the
had started a ball to rolling, and sergeant in charge. Look at this
wait until the authorities saw what newspaper. Your friend Senzi is
it was going to crash into! the new Tjart of Mars!”
The lawyer, Hargrave, came into
the cell in the morning, the type- Much later, Rodney King sat in
written sheet clutched in his plump his cell in the dark, feeling beaten
hand. “Son," he said, apparently in body and mind. He didn’t re-
having trouble keeping his voice member how many cops, sergeants,
below the anger-point, “why didn’t chiefs of police and politicians had
you tell me this before? And why milled around, trying to force him
did you write it down in the form to disqualify the statement, which
of a statement? Don’t you realize had been entered in the records so
it’s a confession of guilt, if they unalterably that no number of legal
can’t prove that this Senzi was your thumbs could gouge it out, short of
accomplice in the murders?" a complete denial from its author.
“I want you to hand that state- What had been a civil matter had
ment to the homicide sergeant," now become planetary in character.
Rodney said. He chuckled. “I’ve When Rodney was left alone with
established a bridgehead, haven’t I? Judge Stanley Whittle, he was cer-
They’ll have to try us under the tain the tempest in the teapot had
Marto -Tellurian Code, because boiled over and was staining some-
Senzi at the very least will have to body’s fine linen. It was his certain
be brought into it as a defendant." knowledge that Judge Stanley Whit-
Margrave looked him straight in tle had flown from Canal City, half-
the eyes. “You realize," he said, way around the planet, merely to
with a slight edge of contempt, “that hold conversation with Rodney
your friend Senzi won’t necessarily King.
be acquittal if lie’s guilty just be- Whittle was small, hard, silvery-
cause the trial will be conducted on liaired. His eyes were gimlets.
a bridgehead, don't you ? Any They never left Rod's face.
court of law is hard on a Martian." “A Tjart of Mars cannot be sub-
“I realize that," Rod said. poenaed," he started off.
“Who is this Senzi ?" “Unless he wants to be sub-
Rod shrugged elaborately. poenaed."
“You’ll find out. He came in on “He won’t want to!"
the Deimos Queen with me.” Rod smiled. “In the two days
Hargrave went for the door, said since your prize maulers have been
grimly, “I’ll see you." working on me, I’ve been asking
He was back in exactly thirty my lawyer some questions. By the
minutes. He was waving a news- middle of next week, you’ll have to
paper. His face was chalk-white. hold the trial and subpoena the
“You fool," he choked. “Do you Tjart. Why don’t you wait till
GIFT HOB SB lit
a !

then and see if he wants to be sub- pression. Rod sighed, smiled bit-
poenaed ?” terly, lit a cigarette. He had to
Whittle’s face darkened. “You admit to himself he was apprehen-
seem sure of yourself.” sive. An Assassin’s Guild could
“No,” Rod said wryly. “But I murder still another Tjart. And
am pretty sure of Senzi.” Judge Whittle, or the men who
Whittle said, beginning to harden, owned him, could arrange for the
“Son, you’ve let yourself in for murder of one Rodney King.
something. What if the case was But the situation rested there for
postponed a couple of weeks — four days. Hope blossomed. In
couple of years a —
couple of spite of the forces stacked against
decades ? There’s more to law than it, there might yet be a trial —and
you dream of.” what a trial it would be
Rod shrugged, stretched out his On the fifth day, the lawyer Har-
legs, stared at the floor, hands grave told Rod that subpoena papers
jammed in his pockets. “Judge,” had been drawn up against Senzi.
he said slowly, choosing his words, More, that the story had leaked out
“you’ve got the law in your pocket, to at least one newspaper, which
but you haven’t got the Tjart in printed everything.
your pocket. There isn’t any legal Rod suspected that Hargrave
trickery you can use that will stop himself had supplied * the leak—
this case if the Tjart doesn’t want which was good politics. Har-
it stopped.” grave’s name had doubtless been
He continued to stare at the mentioned in connection with the
floor. case.
Thereafter, Judge Whittle talked In the middle of that same night,
for two hours. He never softened, Rod awoke. The cell door clanged
never took his eyes away. open with a brutal sound. There
Toward the last, he indicated that was a rush of feet, a muffled, curs-
it was possible for Rodney King to ing outcry. In the calldw half-
become a rich man. light, Rodney tumbled to his feet,
Rod sighed. “The way you’ve ran smack into a gun a hooded man
become rich, judge?” was holding in his gloved hand.
Judge Whittle stood up. It had The gun pressed square into his
.grown late. Shafts of gloom came chest, and as the sounds of com-
through the bars of the cell. Whit- motion in the outside corrider in-
tle’s eyes seemed phosphorescent. creased, the man said, “Make no
He said harshly, “Son, let’s drop outcry. Come along. W^re ar-
all pretense. What’s your real ranging your escape.”
motive ?” Rod stood perfectly still. At last
“Exactly what yours should be: lie said, cynically, “Escape. With
justice.” a gun in my stomach?”
Whittle left instantly, without a “You’re in no danger. Will you
word, without an analyzable ex- come?”
14 ® ASTOUNDING SC IENCE FICTION


“In the first place, I don’t want Senzi was dressed in a peculiarly
to escape. the second place,
In braided garment, the scarf of which
you're a Get out of here.”
liar. hung from one shoulder. Rod
The hooded man motioned to a laughed deliberately, with brittle
companion. The other hooded fig- impact, and Senzi ’s smile was wry.
ure, big and wide, came toward “I inherited this outfit when I
Rod. His arm swung up and the became the Tjart, Rod. I inherited
bean-bag in his hand came down. this room, too —
my uncle’s study.
Rod reacted, knocked the man’s I never saw the room before, just
fist aside, ignored the gun and like I never saw a lot of things
kicked at the man’s stomach. His about my He kept all his
uncle.
kick actually landed, but it seemed private papers here,, and the room’s
to liave no effect. The bigger man a big safe. You couldn’t get into
grabbed Rod’s foot and jerked him it with a charge of jovitc sulphine.
crush ingly to a sitting position, and Rod, I brought you here for a rea-
then jumped him. —
son namely, that everything you
said out there on the desert sank
‘‘You may remove his gag and in.”
bonds,” a voice said. Rod arched an eyebrow. He said
Light stabbed through Rodney’s curtly, “I know why you brought
eyelids. Life began to flow again —
me here and you’ve pulled the
through arms and legs. He lay still, biggest boner of your doubtful
trying to piece together a groggy career.”
remembrance of riding, riding, in-
terminably. And here he was.
Where ?
“You may leave,” the same voice DON'T WAIT...
remarked. “Rod, get up. I’m Until there isn't on available copy
sorry I had to have you handled so of your favorite magozine. A whole
roughly.” year of reading pleasure, thrills

“Roughly isn’t half of it,” Rod and can'be hod by just fill-
chills,

thought wearily. He opened his ing ir> coupon and sending it


this
to us immediately. Don't wait
eyes ami the verified knowledge
act now!
that it was Senzi standing there,
Setizi who had arranged his un- ASTOUNDING SCIENCE- FICTION
wanted escape, was too profound a 122 EAST 42nd STREET
shock to create any reaction. He NEW YORK 17, N. Y.
looked curiously around the room. Enclosed Is $2.50. .Kindly send me a
year's subscription to ASTOUNDING
It was a bare room, almost monkish
SCIENCE-FICTION.
in its Straight chairs,
furnishings.
NAME
an unornamented table, long, nar-
row, unscreened windows admitting ADDRESS
shafts of light which byt intensified CITY STATE
the gloom.

GIFT BOR SB AST— 6R 147


“Why! What do you mean?” The first and the dozenth passed
“Namely that you knew that you under Rod's flying eyes. At that
and therest of your race were being point he looked up. “You realize
given a chance to have a System - what this means, Senzi?”
wide audience and that you muffed “I do indeed!” There was a cer-
it." tain strained melancholy around
Senzi frowned. Senzi’s eyes, like that of a child

“You knew which has just reached the age


Rod said patiently,
where it can appreciate that life is
they were going to subpoena you,
?” not a matter of mud pies. “It
didn’t you
means that my uncle was not the
Senzi's unlidded eyes showed which
jaded, weak puppet of a ruler
relief. “Oh, Rod, that affair
that!
has hardly passed my mind. I’ve
so many thought him —
including
me. Whenhe was murdered, he
been immersed in something that
was preparing to use his full pre-
seems much more important. That But
rogative as a ruler of Mars.
you named me as an accomplice in go on and read. As far as you are
those so-called ‘murders' sinks into
now, it merely shows that he has
obscurity besides this new thing.
been making discreet inquiries by
You must give me credit for having means of human friends to find out
the intelligence to see you had no
how many Mars-born human beings
personal motive. And whatever live on this planet.”
the motive was, the fact still re-
“And,” said Rod, “more to the
mains that it was you who opened
point, probably: how many stock-
my mind to the diabolical process of
holders are Mars-born. So far his
extermination being practiced on
figures show nine-tenths, in both
my race. No, I brought you here cases. But where’s the investiga-
because I can trust you and I need
tion leading?”
your help. Rod, sit down over “Read.”
there.”
By the time he got through half
A few moments
later, Senzi was the pile, terminating on a thick
sitting down
opposite him with a sheaf of photostats which held
foot-high pile of papers which he thousands and thousands of human
had extracted from a safe. “Now,” signatures. Rod knew where the
said Senzi, “I’m going to hand you investigation was leading. He
these letters, documents and carbon looked up with startled glance.
copies of letters and documents one Senzi nodded sadly. “It’s true.
at a time, Rod. As you glance over Rod. That petition was signed by
them, pile them up face down be- countless human beings, all demand-
side you. They’re in the order of ing that my uncle sign a decree
date. I'm pretty sure you’ll be able which would give them the legal
to put together a pretty amazing right to call themselves Martians.
picture of things as you read. More, it was my uncle, with the
Here’s the first one.” aid of human friends, who started

148 ASTOUNDING SCIENCE-FICTION


the whole movement. Rod, he government. They stated, badly,
wanted Mars-born human beings to that when Mars-born human beings
have the legal status of Martians. tians, they would then seek to
You remember he told me he obtained the legal status of Mar-
wouldn’t stand for it that it was — slaughter real Martians. In such
just a device of Earthmen to' give a case, the Earth government said,
them a more complete control of they would then be forced to send
the planet —
such complete control armed ships to take over the planet
that they might be able to kick us by force. Then they included a
off? A blind. My uncle didn’t warning. In such an event, it

even dare to trust in me. He might be very difficult for the Tjart
trusted certain human friends more. to re-establish his ownership. Oh,
He was laying the foundations for the letters and documents are very
the machinery which would give clever, Rod. And so,when it be-
him full legal right to sign the came apparent that my unde was
decree. going ahead with the thing, they
"Anybody else, Rod, studying stepped in and murdered him.”
these papers, would have concluded Rod sat quietly. He already sus-
my uncle was a traitor to his race. pected as much. The Assassin’s
If I hadn’t met you and learned Guild could serve human beings as
what I did through your eyes, I well as Martians. The murder was
would have thought so, too. As it evidence enough that the people who
happened, word of what lie was drew tlieir wealth from Mars had
intending to do leaked out, as you been running a series of bluffs
can see from the rest of those designed to intimidate the Tjart.
letters. Don’t bother to read them. The bluffs were failing. A new
They are protests — worded
protests Tjart would be easier to deal with,
in such a way that they become particularly one of Senzi’s sup-
threats. Letters from majority posedly weak character.
stockholders, from corporation pres-
idents and other high officials, stat- Rod pushed the chair back and
ing that this move was a plot for absently began to walk up and down,
Mars-born human beings to seize chewing at his lower lip.
ownership of the planet from the Senzi followed him with his eyes.
Tjart. Pointing out that once the He said politely, “Your leg better?”
Tjart signed the decree, the ‘in- "Dozens of times," Rod admitted.
heritance’ for each new generation "Must be the shallow gravity. May-
— Senzi gave a contemptuous laugh be if I stick on Mars a couple years,
—"would automatically cease. And I'll get a cure out of ?t. Senzi,
they had other more potent objec- listen. I can see you’re stuck. You

tions. don’t know why your uncle wanted


"Finally, as you deduced, Earth Mars-born human beings given the
stepped in with numberless diplo- right to call themselves Martians.”
matically worded notes from their "Rod, I don’t ! That’s what puz-

GIFT HORSE 149


” ”

les me. He went to such a lot of there are stilly a lot of good men
trouble to stir up the movement that around — important men with big
I know he must have had a good jobs, too. Here. Look at these
reason. Why, 1 don’t think any signatures.”
Mars-born human gave a care

Senzi came around the table. As
whether he called himself a Martian he read the letters, his eyes frowned.
or a Tellurian before certain paid “I don’t see any connection,” he
groups began to get emotional about complained.
it. The average man just didn’t “Sure you do. All these men
know there was a law forbidding were working hand-in-glove with
him to refer to himself legally as a your uncle. They were part of his
Martian ; when he found out about secret organization, whether they
the law, he began to yowl for the thought of it as a secret organiza-
Tjart to repeal it. The more my tion or not. Take it from me, they
uncle refused, the more desperate all knew the significance of Mars-

the humans got. That got Earth born humans calling themselves
interested. That got the politicans Martians. Look at those names!
interested. In turn, business inter- Three corporation lawyers, six
ests began to get frantic. Oh, it judges even I’ve heard of clear up to
was a wonderful of applied psy- Pluto, five . no, six govern-
bit
chology, my uncle’s plan, but
— . .

ment officials, two of them elected


. . .

He spread his hands, dolefully. by the people, one majority stock-


“I don’t know why he planed it.” holder in Fontanaland Metals, one
Rod said, “Where’s your copy of chairman of the board of Glass, Inc.,
the sixty-nine-year contract that was the president of Desert Diamonds,
drawn up when the planet was Inc., two big spaceship manufac-
leased ?” turers —”
Senzi was agitated, almost tear- “Oh, Rod, that’s enough — that's

ful. “I’ve looked. I can’t find it. plenty!” Senzi’s face was wreathed
Either it’s been missing for years, with a smile of delight; for the
or somebody stole it when my uncle first time. Rod noticed the little

was murdered. Like you, I feel the dancing golden specks of fight be-
solution may be there. And yet
— —
neath his skin it was the poor fight-
He stopped as Rod stopped in his ing in the room that brought it out,
pacing as if he had just thought of he guessed. He grinned back at
something and went in a beeline for Senzi. 4

the table where the documents were “Understand now?”


still stacked. “I do indeed! Rod, this is won-
He leafed through batches of let- derful. But whom shall we go to
ters with a wetted thumb. The pages see ?”
flew. He threw out about a dozen “How about Gilcrest of Fontana-
letters, then looked up at Senzi, land Metals?”
grinning. “He’s about eighty years old,”
“Senzi, it’s a relief to me to know Senzi mused pointlessly. “Is that

150 ASTOUNDING SCIENCE FICTION


” —
so! Well, read his letter. He
sounds like forty. Anyway, so much
the better. He
remembers when
Mars swarmed with Martians and
there were hardly any human beings
here at all.”

“I’m not sure,” Senzi said un-


easily, as the gyromobile moved
from the desert into the outskirts
of Canal City three days later, “that
I am doing the right thing by allow-

ing myself to be subpoenaed I, a —


Tjart. I could easily break the
whole case simply by refusing to
appear

"But that’s justwhat you aren't
going to do,” Rod said. “You’ve
already signed the decree. Tomor-
row it’ll be presented to the Earth
Assembly. It’ll be circulated all
over Mars at the same time. When
the implications of the repealed law
are understood, Mars will become
an economic madhouse, and that
There was the body with a knife in it
insanity is going to have repercus-
sions all over the System. What — in the orchid house —and a coonskin

kind of feeding for the new Mar- cop was the only clue.

tian state are the System’s peoples


Then the photograph of eight people
going to have when they find out
oil knowing each other but claiming
what’s happened, unless they're
they didn't . .
given a chance to understand why
.

it did happen ? That's what Doc Savage, Monk and


“No, Senzi, they have to be told,
and this trial is your opportunity to
Ham found — which put them up to their
necks in murder! Read the fast, excit-
tell them. Everything. When a ing, full-length novel, TERROR TAKES
Tjart of Mars is a defendant in a j

SEVEN, in the September issue of


murder trial, that’s really something.
It's the biggest court case in history

and they’ll be forced to televise it


over the System. And between
all

the
should
two of us, the whole dirty plot
come to light.”
DOC SAVAGE
The gyromobile bumped and AT ALL NEWSSTANDS
GIFT BOUSE m
;

swayed across the ill-tended road, by accepting the System, together


and Rodney King leaned back with the principles that tie it to-
against the seat, closing his eyes. gether. Together with many others,
He could still see Gilcrest, that I finally gained the strength of con-
amazing man, when he and Senzi science to finally dowhat was right.
had talked with him two days be- There were others who didn’t have
fore. Gilcrest was old, vety old. that strength ajid they fought your
He had the character of aged wine. uncle. They couldn’t face the
Everything about him was warm. thought of complete poverty as I —
He exuded a human kindness var- will have to face it when our scheme
nished with one thin protective coat succeeds.”
of irony. “Poverty ?”
His voice was low, slow. "I Gilcrest was sitting behind a desk
thought the game was up when your which had the color of beer bottles
uncle was killed,” he said simply. it was made from glass which had

“Few of us expected you to under- been drawn from the ferrous-oxide


stand. Now that you’ve come to sands of the planet. He stirred,
me, as I hoped you would, your loosened his scarf from around his
highness, I can tell you what you neck, withdrew a yellowed docu-
want to know.” ment from an inner pocket.
His eyes closed, slowly opened. “The contract. The source of the
“When I was a young man, there poison which has decimated the
were two very old men who con- Martian race — from eight million
trolled Mars. Their names were in my time to one million in yours.
... I forget their names. But year Next week this document will be
by year before my time, they started the most widely circulated paper in
corporation after corporation on the System. Because, long before
this They imported labor
planet. next week, the economic system of
from Earth, and they made Martians Mars will go haywire. The only
rich. But for every hundred labor- possible economy to fall back on
ers to conic from Earth, it seems to will be the old Martian economy.
me that a thousand Martians died. Remember that, your highness.
“Those two old men created the Mars will fall back into your own-
Blame
social structure of the planet. ership. It’s tip to you to redistribute
them for everything that has hap- the wealth as seems best.
pened to the Martian race. “It’s up to only you. Human
“Your highness, can you blame laws won’t apply any more, because,
the businessmen of Mars today for technically, there won’t be any more
what happened and is happening? human beings. The Marto-Tel-
They didn't inherit the System, it luriati Code will apply between Tel-
inherited them. I’m a rich man, lurians and Martians, only. The As-
but not until your uncle spoke to me sassin’s Guild and other barbaric
a few years ago did I stop to realize practices will die a fast death, be-
I might be an unwitting murderer cause the ‘inheritance* system will

its ASTOUNDING SCIBNCB PICTION


!

already have died. For the first but miscalculate somewhere along
time in a century, the Martian race
will have a chance to flourish as it

the line pull a legal boner, for in-
stance.
should. The cork has been re- “The two old men—old in my
moved.”
Senzi said, groping, “All this,
time, anyway — made Martians the
gift of a horse, provided they could
justby permitting Mars-born hu- hold the reins. They preferred to
mans to call themselves Martians?” believe that nobody would be im-
“It's not a matter of permission politeenough to look the gift horse
any longer. The decree you sign in the mouth.”
specifically states that Mars-born
Senzi said lowly, “But the word
humans be legally defined as Mar-
Martian refers only to members of
tians. Now you understand. By the Martian race.”
the terms of the contract, Martians
are not allowed hold stock in
to
“Does it really.” Gilcrpst smiled.
Martian enterprises. They are not “Your highness, read the contract
allowed to own real property. They over and try to find any mention of
that very, very necessary definition.”
are not allowed to work for non-
Martians. I was born on Mars, for
Bumping along in the gyromobile,
instance, but technically I’m a Tel-
Rod sat upright. “Say, Senzi
What’s thedate, anyway?”
lurian. When you sign the decree,
I’ll be a Martian. That's why I'll “You mean Earth time, of course.
lose all my money. I can't hold December 31st. Tomorrow's the
stock in Martian enterprises. Nine- first of the New Year.”
tenths of the population are in my “The first of the New Year? It’s
!”
shoes, too, because the contract will the first of the New Century He
automatically void itself. It’s just sank back against the seat, marvel-
that when you lay plans for a long ing. “Senzi, a lot can happen in a
time into the future, you can’t help century, can’t it?”
THE END.
THE ANALYTICAL LABORATORY
We’re short of space this month, and have two labs to report on. So I’ll simply
say, “Here they be 1”
APRIL ASTOUNDING
Place Story Author Points
I. Dead Hand Isaac Asimov 1.61
2. Destiny Times Three Fritz Leiber, Jr. 2.46
3. Correspondence Course Raymond F. Jones 2.92
4. Brains For Bricks Malcolm Jameson 3.53
5. Vocation George 0. Smith 4.07

AND MAY ASTOUNDING


1 . First Contact Murray Leinster 1.79
2. The Purpose A. E. Van Vogt 2.42
3. One-Eyed Man Philip St. John 2.78
4. The Fixer Wesley Long 3.55
5. The Trap F. B. Long 4.15
The Editor.

GIFT HORSE 153


Lots of Gold—
But Get It!

As the old placer miners would fied. As such it is a continual chal-


say, astronomers have at last gotten lenge to astrophysicists.
a show of colors in the solar spec- Often the reason why lines of
trum. Two experts collaborating many elements have not been iden-
on opposite sides of the United tified was simply because no one
States, Dr. Charlotte E. Moore of has tried to get good large-scale
the Princeton University Observa- spectrograms of them in the lab-
tory and Dr. Arthur S. King of oratory. Until recently this was
the astrophysical laboratory of the the trouble with gold. Its spectrum
Mount Wilson Observatory, have lines had not been accurately meas-
just published an account of their ured so that they could be com-
work describing how they have pared with assurance with solar
finally panned a line in the spec- lines. This situation has now been
trum of the Sun which they have remedied with publication of pre-
had the courage to label “Att ?”. cise wave-lengths in the laboratory
They can’t be positive that it is spectrum of gold. One of the very
produced by gold but the evidence strongest lines comes at 3122.78
all points in that direction. Al- A.U., coinciding in position with
though spectrum lines of Ag and Pt the solar gold line within the per-
were identified over a decade ago, missible errors of measurement.
this is the first indication of an Unfortunately the very strongest
aurous line in old Sol. gold line of —the ultimate
all line as
It would be highly appropriate spectroscopists —
call it is much
if the line occurred in the yellow farther on down in the ultraviolet
part of the solar spectrum. Instead at wave-length 2427.95 A.U. * Now
it is out of sight in the ultraviolet at beginning in the ultraviolet solar
wave-length 3122.82 Angstrom spectrum at 2900 A.U. the ozone
Units (A.U.). Since 1927, when of Earth’s atmosphere blots out all
the official Bible of twenty thousand trace of radiation. And so it looks
solar spectrum lines was published as if astrophysicists would have to
called the “Revised Rowland be satisfied with their tentative
Table”, this line has gone unidenti- identification of the next best gold

154 ASTOUNDING SCIENCE-FICTION*


line at3122.82 until someone builds about half as much gold as silver.
an observatory on the Moon. Therefore, until better data are
In 1930 an assay was made of the published we shall take the amount
Sun’s atmosphere and the quanti- of solar gold as 1/200 of a gram per
ties of different elements found square meter.
there was determined with consid- From here on it is merely a ques-
erable accuracy. This was done tion of being careful to get in the
from considerations based on both right number of zeros. The cur-
the structure of the various atoms rent rate paid for gold is $34.50 per
and the strength of their spectrum ounce troy. There are 8.8 hundred
lines. Elements such as hydrogen, trillion troy ounces of gaseous gold
oxygen, silicon, magnesium, sodium, in the solar atmosphere. When
and iron were found in great abun- multiplied together we get the as-
dance. Others that gave only a few tounding figure of) $30,360,000,-
x

weak lines like lead, antimony, 000,000,000 as the value of gold in


barium, and arsenic are barely Sol. Compare this with the puny
abundant enough to give just a gold bullion of the whole world of
trace. Assayers usually express the $25,702,000,000 as given in the
quantity of element present in the World Almanac for 1939.
number of ounces per ton. But in When you come right down to it,

the Sun a'strophysicists give it in why isn’t this gold just about as
the number of grams beneath one much use to us as the gold bullion
square meter of the Sun’s surface. nations keep locked away here on
Generally the quantity of any metal Earth ? Do you get any more bene-
present is less than a pin’s head. fit out of the gold buried deep un-

But the Sun is so awfully big that derground at Fort Knox, Kentucky
a little bit of anything becomes an than you do out of the gold in
awful lot when added up for the the Sun? And by the way, how do
whole surface of the Sun. you know for a fact there is all that
How can we estimate the amount gold at Fort Knox they claim there
of gold in the Sun then? is? Did you ever see it or know of
Probably as good a way as any at anyone who has? Have you posi-
present is by comparison with the tively identified it as gold with aqua
abundance of other elements in regia ? Probably not.
the Sun. According to the assay But on a clear day we can send a
of 1930 there is 1/100 of a gram of shaft of golden sunshine through a
silver beneath each square meter of spectrograph with the positive as-
solar surface. Meteorites serve as surance that the weak aurous line
an excellent guide to the abundance at 3122.82 A.U. will always be
of elements in the Solar System. found there.
They have been found to contain R. S. Richardson

LOTS OP GOLD— BUT GET JT l 166


empty of Human beings.
World of A Gosseyn made a second, more
( Continued from page 46) careful search, examining clothes
no time for a second blow. He was closets,smashing three telcradio
down, hit three times by Gosseyn’s communicators and then, satisfied
;

fists. Hit so hard that he fell hard that he was safe so far as the inside
like a dropped sack. of the building was concerned, went
Gosseyn whirled on the woman. out onto an enormous veranda.
She had made no attempt to The splendid vista of the trees
escape, or to help the doctor. and the river, greatly enlarged now
She stood, a little wide-eyed, staring that it was no longer confined to a
at the man, where he lay, writhing window view, spread before him.
now, on the floor. She looked up. To the left and the right, the valley

She said simply: extended, briefly visible, but cut off

"You heard us before?” by the Cyclopean groves a shad- —


owed universe of wondrous, god-
"I heard,” said Gosseyn.
like trees.
She expected no mercy. And she
A
hush lay over all, a silence so
received none. Almost pacifistic
non-Aristotelianism might be. But
intense that it was startling but —
not frightening. There was a
it taught the inner meaning of posi-
grandeur here, a peace tinequalcd
and, in its higher techniques,
tivities,
by anything in his experience.
trained individuals how to level off
Gosseyn drew a deep, slow, ex-
consciously on any plane of cer-
hilarated breath. The air was fresh,
tainty.
as if it had been recently washed
Such a leveling was called for
by an invigorating rain. It braced
now. There must be other people him, yet the day was beautifully
in the hospital. Any instant, the mild all the sweetness of a summer
:

woman might level off, herself, on afternoon tingled upon and through
the very natural defensive level of his body.
screaming for help. Impossible to tell whether it was
Gosseyn struck her hard on the afternoon. There was no sun. The
jaw. He caught her as she fell, and vast height of the sky was cut off
laid her on the bed. He put on the
by clouds that were almost hidden
man’s shorts and shoes, tore a sheet in a blue haze of distance.
into strips, and bound and gagged, Being a null-A, it was necessary
first the man, then the woman.
for him, within the limits "of the
In five minutes he was ready for human nervous system, to attempt
the next phase of his escape. an accurate visualization of the real-
ity of that sky. Gosseyn estimated
It was a hospital all right with an atmosphere twice as thick as
thirty beds, all empty. Downstairs Earth’s, a thousand miles or more of
were the living quarters, the labora- air —
the clouds of Venus that made
tory and the surgery, similarly the second planet the dazzling spec-

15« ASTOUNDING SCIBNCB-FICTION


;

taclc of Earth's night sky. in that depth, Gosseyn caught a


Thinking about it, he felt more gleam of water, and, shocked, re-
alive, excited. Felt himself in a membered the discolored river.
timeless world. He turned to stare at it. And
Gosseyn descended the stately now that he was looking for it, he
steps to a green velvety soil; and, could see the sharp tilt of the water.
turning, looked at the building. It No wonder it looked dark and ugly
stood alone in a natural-looking, gar- no wonder it was so silent in its
denlike setting. It was constructed course it was racing down a moun-
:

entirely of a shiny gray stone. Be- tainside with an oily velocity that
hind it, a hill rose steeply, as much long ago had worn a smooth bed.
as four hundred feet in places, a Somewhere farther along must be
long, wavy green ridge, thick with cataracts that would make Niagara
gigantic shrubs and flowering plants. tiny so far as height of fall was con-
Gosseyn walked briskly around cerned only thus could this swollen
;

the building; and, as he had half- river hope to get down so swiftly
expected, there was a series of stone to the deeper reaches of the great
steps leading up to the top of the valley, where its gleam was so faint-
hill. ly visible.
It took him about ten minutes to It was saddening to think that
climb the' four hundred feet to the he wouldn’t see those many water-
top, but the effort was worth it. falls. But there was little possi-
He looked down, down, down bility; his whole strength and pur-
into distance. Gray-blue haze of pose must be bent towards making
distance. The hill on which the an escape down the mountainside;
hospital was built was not really a and he couldn’t pause for scenic
hill at all, but a lower peak of a tours.
mountain, dipping down behind him The first hard worry struck at
past the hospital into a smaller val- Gosseyn. Escape Down that
!

ley before curving past the titan mountain! Where to?


trees towards the higher peaks He stared with a more calculating
beyond. intensity into the gulf of distance
Now that hewas four hundred below him. He could see where the
feet above the building, Gosseyn valley down there leveled off. For
could see the peaks. They rose several miles it seemed to be a flat

above the trees they were snow-


; plain ; and then the mists of remote-
capped; they must be miles higher ness closed in, and hid what lay
to be visible at all beyond that bar- beyond.
rier of trees. At least, there seemed to be no
There were more trees in the mountains in that direction. Though
greater valley down which Gosseyn he’d have to ask questions about
gazed. But even they were dwarfed that. Detailed, pressing questions.
by the appalling depths to which the Thought of all the information
mountainside receded. Far down he had yet to obtain brought a surge
WORLD OP A 137
, ” —
of anxiety. Was he actually out sional things, returning without a
here admiring scenery, when every pause for a glance at them. He was
natural urge of self-preservation re- anxious to hear the comments of
quired him to leave at the earliest his prisoners on everything he did
possible moment. Why, any hour, or said.
any second a roboplane might come He felt a dissatisfaction with the
winging into view, out of the dis- couple. Their personalities refused
tance of an immense sky. to show clear. They were a pleas-
The pang of alarm that thought ant, harmless husband
apparently
brought sent Gosseyn hurrying and wife, living alone in a mountain
down the stone steps, back into the retreat.
building. Lovely and wild as was the setting
of their home, it seemed incredible
The man and the woman lay that it and they could be typically
where he had left them. They were Venusian. Was this the heaven at-
both conscious, and their eyes looked tainable by victory in the games of
up at him with just a shade of —
the Machine a lonely existence cut
anxiety. So they were human after offfrom that social communication
all,Gosseyn thought grimly. Be- and big city life, so essential to the
ginning to be afraid. well-being of the intellectual man?
He had no intention of harming His nervousness grew. He went
them, but it wouldn’t hurt to keep to the window, and stared intently
them jittery. He removed the gags into the sky. These people had had
from their mouths, and said: him checked by some mysterious
“Where do you keep your maps Registry; and it was thus they had
of Venus?” found out that he was alien to
There was no. immediate reply. Venus. Not impossibly the authori-
Then the man rolled his head side- ties behind the Registry were even
ways, and flashed a reassuring grin now dispatching a plane loaded with
at the woman, who smiled back. police to pick him up.
The man said: Jittery, Gosseyn returned to the
“He thinks he’s going to escape.” maps. Frowning, acutely conscious
He glanced again at Gosseyn. man and
that the eyes of the the
“Knowing,” he said earnestly, “that woman were watching him, he
you have no chance of getting away, spread the' referents on the floor,

I am quite prepared to give you all and knelt beside them.


the information you want. To be- Instantly, his spirits rose.
maps are in a cup- The planet was alive with cities.
gin with, the
board in the laboratory in
— They glowed on the maps. Some
He described the location of the of them, if the brightness of the
cupboard. Gosseyn remembered light and the space allotted to them
having looked into it, but he said —
was any criterion as it should be
nothing. Instead he went down- must have populations of well over
stairs and secured the three- dimen- a million.
158 ASTOUNDING SCIENCE-FICTION
: :

One man could lose himself pretty bananalike juicy fruit, reddish in
thoroughly in a large city. And color. I could name a dozen others,
there must be ways of getting back but those will see you through any
to Earth. trip that you can possibly make.”
More cheerfully, his whole being Gosseyn studied the other
more alive, he searched for moun- thoughtfully. Finally he went
tain belts. There were plenty of downstairs and brought up a lie
those, too; so many that after a detector from the laboratory. The
few moments, Gosseyn looked up, doctor merely smiled and repeated
and said his statements; and the lie detector
"Will you show me where you said
are on one of these maps?” “He’s telling the truth.”
The man said promptly. “We’re Gosseyn said “You seem very
:

on the one marked ‘Three’, just convinced that I will be captured.”


about the center. There’s a moun- “Of course you’ll be captured.”
tain range there, falling away to- The doctor was calm. “Our police
wards the south. We’re about half- system on Venus is unique. We
way up that range. I once put a have no ordinary crimes, of course,
little mark showing our exact loca- but the cases requiring detective
tion. It’s probably still there.” work that do come up are always
It was. It showed the little solved with extraordinary speed.
mountain hospital to be about four You will be interested in meeting
hundred miles north of the nearest a null- A
detective, but you’ll be
city. shocked by the swiftness with which
Even if he had to walk over the you are captured.”
roughest country, he could make it There seemed nothing to say to
in twenty days. Of course that that. The man’s confidence was
would be the direction he would be jarring, but not by any means final.
expected to take. Like all the other words ever
Gosseyn smiled savagely. Be- spoken, these were not necessarily
cause if he could be sure of his food, the fact.
two hundred days wouldn’t be too It was the woman who answered
long to take on the journey. A
man his next question “No, nobody
:

who faced quick death if he made a special is coming to get you. Every
mistake, couldn’t take too many pre- three days a roboplane brings us
cautions. Climbing the highest supplies, and takes away anything
mountains, fording the deepest we have to send.” She smiled.
rivers must be the merest incidents “You see, things work differently
in the life of a hunted man. on Venus. There is no police or-
“Oh, there’s ample wild fruit,” ganization, as such. We
notified
said the man in answer to Gosseyn’s Central Registry which, in turn,
query. “Purple berries an inch passed the information on to an
thick by the billion, a large yellow automatic police registry. By this
fruit just beginning to ripen, a time, in fact within a few moments

WORtD OF A 159
:

of the information coming in, some- to persuade them in his favor, with-
body will have volunteered to look out making them feel that the auto-
after your case.’' matic death sentence against him
“Volunteered!” echoed Gosseyn. —
was all wrong regardless of the
“Nobody has to do it,” explained risk, he dared not pass up the op-
the woman, “but somebody always portunity to tell somebody his situa-
does.” She added': “It was the tion.
roboplane that saw you lying near He felt as cool and unshakable as

the Games Machine an extension hard metal. His nerves were steady
of the one on Earth — and brought as lead, that stable element. He
you along to us. That was yester- turned back to the bed, and said
day.” to the woman
Gosseyn sat taut. Two days He 1 “What is your name ?”
had two days. There was some- -“Amelia Prescott.”
thing unnerving about the frank- “And yours?” That was to the
ness of this couple, their simple man.
conviction that he would suffer dis- “John Prescott.”
aster. But —two days ! It was It was to the man that Gosseyn
more than he had expected. Little principally addressed himself.
enough, to be sure, for a man on
foot. But a start! A chance! An hour later, Gosseyn let his
He stood up. And then once voice lapse into silence. In the
more he hesitated. There was so bright light that glared in through
much that wasn’t clear. The part the wall-window, he stared steadily
about the roboplane finding him at Prescott.

near the Machine that, particular- The doctor had rolled over on
ly, needed a lot more explanation. the bed and was frowning down at
Because how had he got there? the floor. Abruptly, the man
He felt a sudden anguish of glanced up.
anxiety. “I supposes” he said, “you real-
Was it possible that his running ize your story has a basic flaw.”
towards the Machine on Earth had “My story,” said Gosseyn grimly,
• actually enabled the Machine, even “is true according to my memory.
! as he was being killed, to transport And any lie detector will bear out
him in some unheard of manner, to every word of That unless
it. is,

the extension of itself on Venus? — ” He smiled bleakly, paused.


It was futile to think about it at “Yes?” Prescott urged. “Unless
this remote distance from the Ma- what ?”
chine.Again he looked at the man “Unless all the memory I now
and the wi»ian. And abruptly have is of the same category as my
knew that he couldn’t depart yet, earlier belief that I had been mar-
To leave these two here without ried to Patricia Hardie, but that she
telling them of the grave danger had died, leaving me grief-Stricken.”
threatening Venus, without trying He broke off, sharply : “What is this

100 ASTOUNDING SCIENCH-FICTION


"

flaw you have detected?" knew that two. apparently identical


The answer was almost thalam- chairs were different in ten thousand
ically prompt. “Your identification times ten thousand ways, none of
of your present self with the Gos- them necessarilyvisible to the naked
seyn who was killed. Your com- eye. In the human brain, the num-
plete memory of that death, the ber of possible paths that a single
way the. bullets and the energy nerve impulse could take was of
struck you and hurt you. Think the nature of ten to the twenty-
about that. And then think of the seven thousandth power. The in-
underlying credo of A, that no two tricate patterns set up by a lifetime
objects of the plenum can be iden- of individual experience could not
tical." ever be duplicated. It explained

Gosseyn was silent. Through the beyond all argument why never in
window, trees taller than the tallest the history of Earth had one ani-
skyscrapers towered towards a blue mal, one snowflake, one stone, one
haze of sky, and a swift river flowed atom ever been exactly the same as
through an evergreen world. another.
Strange and* tremendous setting for Unquestionably, the doctor had
a conversation about the structural discovered a basic flaw in his story.
nature of things organic and in- But it was a flaw that, in itself, re-
organic, things molecular, atomic, quired weighty explanations. A
electronic, neural and physico- flaw that could not be dismissed by
chemical, things as they were. an eleinentalistic refusal to face it

He felt a black wonder. Because squarely. Prescott was speaking:


he didn’t seem to fit into that uni- “What you have stated," he said,
verse. A
score of times since his “about a gang that has somehow got
awakening, he had thought through around the Machine on Earth,
nullifying its control of the games,
the very objection that Dr. Prescott
was now making. and its relation to the victors of the
games, sounds like a romance
He was a man who claimed not
straight out of some neurotic brain.
merely similarity of structure, but
identification with a dead man. The
As a story it is comparable to the
maunderings of the old style village
root logic of A was at stake.
idiot, who believed any tall yarn, so
What you say a thing is, it is not. long as it didn’t happen in front of
In effect, he was maintaining that his own eyes. And, even if he did
because he had the memory and see, his verbal picture of it would
general physical appearance of Gil- become more fantastic by the hour.
bert Gosseyn I, he was Gilbert Gos- All this, and yet

seyn I. He stopped. He gave Gosseyn a
What you say a thing is, it is not. measured look.
There were subtle meanings to “I suppose," he said, “yon realize
that, of course. Any student of that there is a lie detector in the
philosophy, even in the olden days. room."
WORLD OP A 101
:

Gosseynstared at him as a the two doctors, first the woman,


hynotized bird might gaze at a then the man. He watched them
snake. There was silence, except while they rubbed the circulation
for a queer drumming sound at the back into their numbed members.
back of Gosseyn’s head. He began He said at last
to feel dizzy; his vision blurred.- “Well?”
He sat cold. The man andthe woman looked
would be interesting,” the
“It at each other. And it was the wom-
doctor went on inexorably, “to find an who spoke:
out for certain if there really was “I think,” she said, “you had
another body.” better be on your way. I’ll make

“Yes,” said Gosseyn at last, up a packsack for you, and we will


blankly, “yes, it would be interest- pass your story on to Detective
ing” Registry. What they will do, of
He couldn’t imagine it. Now course, is out of our hands.”
that the words had been used, the Gosseyn said : “you wouldn’t ad-
picture presented to him this way, vise me to remain here?”
he didn’t believe the story himself. “No!” It the man who an-
was
He was reluctant to test it, so swered “Detectives have the
that.
violently reluctant that it was like authority to kill people in your posi-
a fire inside him. But all the time, tion on sight. And in recent years,
long before Prescott had mentioned I’ve noticed, they’ve been using
the detector, he had known there their various powers rather freely.
could be no evading its use. It would be better to let your story
He went over to it. He put his sink in for a few days before expos-
hands on the metal contacts, and ing yourself. You
can scarcely
waited while the sensitive, energy- imagine how poor your legal posi-
conducting lights played over his tion is. I’d say, wait till you’re
face. captured.”
“You’ve heard what we’ve been An hour later, Gosseyn was head-
saying,” he said. “What is your ing “west” along the valley, follow-
verdict.” ing a mighty river towards its
“Your story is true according to source.
your knowledge,” said the detector.
VII.
“You are right in believing that you
and the person who called himself “To be acceptable as scientific
Gilbert Gosseyn I are not the same knowledge, a truth must be a deduc-
individuals. There is nothing in tion from other truths.”
your mind that explains why you Aristotle
have a portion of his memory, and The Nicomachean Ethics
no clue at all as to your true iden- circa 340 B. C.
tity.”
It was a moment for decisions. The grass was soft beneath Gos-
Without a word, Gosseyn unbound seyn’s feet; and at first there was
102 ASTOUNDING SCIENCE-FICTION
a sort of a path, as if others, less of an enormous building, following
earnestly bent, had walked this way, a corridor that'kept twisting, chang-
lightly, airily, and left an imprint of ing, curving, now opening up into
happy strolls through the dusk of great antechambers, now narrowing
warm and fragrant evenings. down to a pathless tangle of tall,
The fragrance was lingering spreading shrubbery, the equivalent
there, sweetly, deliciously there. of a doorway, but always with a
The scent of growing greens was a roof overhead, holding off the sky.
thick perfume headily intermixed He had a grim conviction that it
with the feel of imminent rain ; yet would be harder to sustain his sense
the air was not stuffy, not too of direction among the trees than
humid. Gosseyn had the exhilarat- in any conceivable building. But he
ing conviction of an adventure be- had a compass. Which should keep
gun in paradise. him on his general course; and he
Even though he was still in sight could hope for no more than that.
of the hospital, his anxiety dimin- A curious heavy sound impinged
ished minute by minute. suddenly upon Gosseyn's attention*
At first, too, there was the hissing It came from above, far above. It
swish of nearby now.
the river, grew louder rapidly, became a con-
But that faded as he entered the tinuous sound, like the roar of many
shadows under the titan trees. smoothly operating machines.
Shadows? It was like a witch’s Gosseyn stopped, and stared
night, likecoming into a cave from blankly upwards into the shadows.
bright day. There was light of a He walked on finally still puzzled.
sort for a considerable distance; An hour sound began to
later, the
then it began to fade sharply. It fade. It ended; and the hush of
became a dim twilight. Gosseyn the great woods pressed instantly
looked up but there was no sky back into place around him.
visible. To the left and to the right It was half an hour after that
and ahead, the twilight world that there was a whoosh! above
pressed in upon him. Gosseyn. He looked up instinc-
He walked on, strongly, but un- tively, and was struck in the face
alarmed. Twilight had no terrors by a gush of water. The water
4
for his nuIl-A mind. He visualized poured down his back and front. It
himself threading this Venusian drenched him with its cool fresh-
jungle, under a mighty canopy of ness. After it had stopped, Gosseyn
foliage. And, so long as he kept estimated that about a barrel of it
his thoughts away from his personal had debouched down upon him.
background, the feeling was good. That first gush was like a signal.
He had a superb sense of security, All-around him, as he walked, water
of being orientated to his physical began to come down. He could
universe. hear the splashing in the shadows
It was, he thought some time on every side; and twice more he
later, as if he was on the lower floor was partially caught in the engulfing
WORLD OP A 163
— :

wet folds. Like a gigantic sprin- lower branches, too dark even to see
kling system, the branches above the nature of the cool earth on
were sending down torrents of which he cautiously settled himself.
water ; and there was no longer any There was no grass within reach
doubt what had happened. of his fumbling lingers, but there
It had rained. Gigantic leaves —
seemed to be something moss, he
had taken the entire load of rain in decided, frowning. But he couldn’t
their ample, up-curved green be sure.
bosoms. But now here, now there, The problem of sleeping, he pon-
the water was overweighing leaf dered for a long time, ruefully. He
after leaf, and tumbling down into had taken a compass from the hos-
the depths, frequently into other pital, but without examining it
leaves but always the process must
;
beyond verifying by means of the
have continued until some small lie detector that it was a compass.
portion of the greater bulk of water It was important that he make a
actually reached the ground. wide circling move, always under
- The rain must have been on a cover, and eventually head “east.”
colossal scale. Just as well to be In the darkness, he fumbled
in a forest whose leaves could al- around for a stick, a branch. Find-
most support a river. ing it, he drew several lines in the
Gosseyn. pictured that, mentally ground, lines running roughly east
enlivened by the vision. A man and west. He laid the stick in one
who had already been killed once, of the little ruts, for good measure
who had no memory, no identity and finally, as an additional precau-
walking to escape death in a forest tion, stretched himself parallel to
of trees three thousand feet high. the stick, his head pointing west.
He was still walking along in In that position, still worried
the apparently interminable forest about the animals, he fell asleep.
when he noticed that the shadows He wakened with a start to real-
around him were darkening. ize that it must be day. The dark-
In ten minutes there was no ques- ness was again of a twilight variety :

tion but that night was falling. and there was a special brightness
to the northwest that made him
Peaceful was that night, but dark. hurry in that direction.
Gosseyn had had an indeterminate It grew lighter and lighter. After
plan to climb a tree, with the pur- about twenty minutes, the trees, be-
pose of avoiding any Venusian ani- gan to thin, to straggle; and then
mals that might be about. Incredi- he came to a treeless meadow.
bly, he had forgotten to ask about A brook raced noisily over stones
animals and though he had seen
; and pebbles, and swished more sott-
none that was no proof that there ly but with a sinister sound around
weren't any. the sharp curves. Its banks were
Swiftly, it was too dark to climb lined with huge shrubs, and he could
a tree. It was too dark to see the follow the wavy bed of it in the

164 ASTOUNDING SCIENCE-FICTION


A
general direction of the dark river of bole at either end to insure
he had seen earlier, but which was safety. But his muscles wouldn't
not now in sight. relax until he was over the gap, and
The water was surprisingly cool down on the ground again.
considering the unchanging mild- Another hour later, that was.
ness of the climate. Gosseyn drank, He struck out strongly toward
ate sparingly out of his pack, sam- the northeast.
pled some of the sweet purple There were other meadows dur-
berries the doctor had described. ing the days that followed, other
And then began to follow the gen- glimpses of a sky, the clouds in
eral course of the creek. which were too high to be visible
He came to the river in about two through the haze of height. At the
hours. Ugly, dark, dangerous river, end of a week, the reluctant thought
wider than he had thought; not two came to Gosseyn that even a null-
hundred but three hundred yards. brain might he strained by pro-
At least. longed journeyings in a dim, spec-
It was disturbing, not because he tral world of gigantic forest.
intended even an attempt at fording, —
Or perhaps the possibility in-
but because the plan he did have in terested and sustained him during
mind might not be possible if the the second week the very enor- —
width was too great. mousness of everything, the almost
He followed the river “west.” continuous twilight, the hushed and
He came to where two trees, one magnificent peacefulness might con-
on either side of the surging water, ceivably make for a mental orienta-
joined branches a thousand feet tion to a grander environment ; and
above the ground. He began to so strengthen every brain affected.
climb. During the second week, he let
The actual process of climbing himself swing gradually south,
was not hard. The gigantic trunk following a valley that curved
was massively rough, providing a gently downward in that direction.
thousand hand and footholds. And On the eleventh day, he crossed a
there were plenty of monster ridge and began his down-the-moun-
branches upon which to rest. tain trek with determination. On
But after an hour he still had dis- the sixteenth day, he emerged from
tance to go ; and there was unpleas- a belt of trees just as dusk was
ant depth below him. Besides, the falling.
very continuity of the process of He found a grassy nook, and he
climbing, easy though each separate was settling himself for the night
movement was, grew onerous, and when the plane winged silently over
seemed endless. the edge of a nearby hill, and settled
There was a little jump, too, that down fifty feet away from him.
he had to take, to make his connec- It rolled stop and a light
to a ;

tion with the other tree. It was flashed on nose.


in It swung
its

only five feet, and there was plenty around with an easy assurance, and
WORLD OF A les
caught Gosseyn in a blaze of sun- pulled open the door, and climbed
like brilliance.Automatic light that in. There were two rows of plush
would never let him out of focus. seats, glowingly green in color. He
Out of that dazzling brightness, had barely time to slip into the near-
a great voice came : est. The plane raced irresistibly
“GOSSEYN, GILBERT GOS- forward, and became air-borne. %
SEYN, GET INTO THIS All the lights blinked out. Steep-
PLANE. A DOZEN GUNS ARE ly, the machine climbed into the
POINTING AT YOU, AND night sky.
THERE IS NO ESCAPE.”
Gosseyn saw the guns, snouted He watched the dark ground be-
poked out of the
barrel ends that come formless. In a minute, the
fuselage —
and followed his move- world of giant trees and the land
ments. were at one with the night. A uni-
The slowed him, shocked
sight form black enveloped the hurtling
him. With all the swift cunning plane.
of a natural fighter, he had walked AnyWhere from three to five min-
straight towards his enemy, acutely utes ticked by and then slowly the
;

conscious of the disadvantages that machine began to level off. At first


distance placed him under, anxious it was merely a lessening of vertical

for the close contact that made pressure, then the angle of ascent
resistance possible. shifted, and kept on shifting until
Now, near or far made no differ- the roboplane was speeding along,
ence. So long as he was outside still at enormous velocity, horizon-
that plane, it had him at its mercy. tally to the planetary surface.
Useless to argue with an inanimate The lights flashed on, as they fi-

object, acting under orders. nally came level. Instantly, Gos-


There remained the vital ques- sevn's gaze flashed to the control
tion :Could it control him inside ? board. The controls were in a box
Without a word Gosseyn went mounted on the usual balancers, and
around to the side of the plane, there was nothing else in the nose

ASTOUNDING SCIENCE FICTION


of the planed No guns pointing
into the interior. No guns!
A burr of excitement moved up
Gosseyn’s spine. But he waited,
puzzled. It seemed hardly plausible
that the plane was really at his
mercy. He looked hard at the
vaguely glowing tubes and cells that
did all the automatic things. But
he couldn’t decide if one of them
operated some hidden inside de-
fense.
One blow, he thought shakily,
one crushing blow with the whole
weight of his body would topple the
carefully balanced structure.
The plane might reel and dive to
a crash before he could get at the
emergency controls. But. lie was
already in danger. The machine’s

every action the stealthy capture
of him, the complete shut-off of its
lights as it darted into the sky—had
a sinister quality. Some of these
roboplanes were almost human in
their capacity to cater to the will
of their masters.
If its purposes had been legal,
if for instance it was the agent of
a detective, it would have done
everything openly. And, for one

WORLD OF A 167
: :

thing, it would have spoken before and up to a point the rate


calculus,
this. of change of the curves could be
Gosseyn hesitated, then said in a accurately predicted.
steady tone: Like all mortals, he had followed
“I suppose you know that robo- the easiest course of the routes he
planes caught exceeding their had chosen. He had climbed hills

authority are subjected to heavy instead of mountains, ridges instead


penalties." of hills. He
had followed valleys
A chuckle answered him. It and and finally he had gone
defiles,
came from a series of circular per- down the mountain. The differen-
forations in the ceiling, a loud tial calculus had simply they must —
speaker. have taken radar maps of the ter-
“I’m sure," said a mild baritone rain —predicted several score points
voice, “that catching a wanted man where he would be each day. And
will never be held against me.” the roboplane had finally found him
So it had an alibi. Gosseyn had at one of those points.
little doubt now. Somebody he — He grew aware that the roboplane
could only think of “X" and was speaking again
the great Hardie gang —
had beaten “There has been for some min-
out the Venusian detectives. utes,” it said, “a threat of imminent
He felt his first terrible chill. violence in your attitude. I must
“I won’t explain," the voice was warn you that the entire forward
saying, “how I used the science of part of the floor is electrified beyond
unstraight lines to locate you. The human endurance."
details are too involved, and besides "Oh!" said Gosseyn, sagging a
we are working under a time limita- little in his seat.
tion.” He was really caught then, out-
It didn’t explain the limitation. side and in.
But it wasn’t that that momentarily “And now," said the plane, “I
stopped Gosseyn’s gathering tense- have given you all the time you
ness, slowed the contraction of his need to adjust. If you will listen
muscles, readying for assault. without interruption, we can get
It was the reference to how he down to business.”
had been located. He began to see As much as any human being
the picture. A. straight line in the with an ever-interpreting brain can
extensional world was a series of listen, Gosseyn listened.
curves, whose radii were so remote There was nothing else to do:
that the human mind could not dis-
tinguish the curve. None of these The voice began
curves was exactly the same as any “To understand the political
of the others, though structurally situation here, you must reach out
they were all similar. The mathe- with your mind to the furthest
matics involved was that heady con- limits your ideas of ultimate
of
coction known as the differential democracy, and then somehow go

168 ASTOUNDING SCIENCE-FICTION


: ”

beyond. There is no president of ‘‘You must now visualize a situa-


Venus, no council, no ruling group tion where more than half the ap-
at all. Everything is voluntary; plications for all detective and judi-
every man lives to himself alone, cial positions are agents of “X.”
and yet conjoins with others to see By a careful system of murders,
that the necessary work is done. they have managed to eliminate the
“ But people can choose their own more dangerous o f the normal mem-
work. You might say, suppose bership, and at present have virtual
everybody decides to enter the same control of all key detective and judi-
profession. That doesn’t happen. cial positions, as well as quantity
The population is composed of re- control of both organizations and

sjxmsible citizens who make a care- That Was where Gosseyn inter-
ful study of the entire work-to-be- rupted: “Just a minute,” he said
done situation before they choose dazedly. “One minute, please.”
their jobs. He stood up, only vaguely aware
“For instance, when a detective that he did so. “Are you trying to
dies, or retires, or changes’ his oc- tell me —” he began.
cupation, he advertises his intention, “I’m telling you,” said the ma-
or, in the case of death, his position chine grimly, “that you cannot
is advertised. If he is still alive, escape capture. And I must warn
I>eople who would like to become you. You seem to have no concep-
detectives come to discuss their tion of the enormous efforts being
qualifications with him and with made to find you. Your existence
each other. Whether he is alive or and the mystery of your mind poten-
dead, his successor is finally de- tial has caused a great war machine

cided upon as a result of a vote to mark time, while its leaders fran-
among the applicants.” run you down and dis-
tically try to
In spite of himself, Gosseyn had cover the nature of the threat to
a private thought at that point. It them that you represent. In all
had nothing to do with the picture earnestness, therefore, I say: Do
he was being given of life on Venus, not think you are being lightly asked
the hopeful, fascinating picture of to do what I now propose as your
a super-civilization. It was per- only logical action
sonal to the roboplane, a concrete “You must let yourself fall into

awareness that the machine was giv- their hands. You .must do this in
ing him as objective an account as the hope that they are so vitally
he had ever heard. interested in your special mental
The intensity of honesty brought and physical make-up that they will
to the fore a now comparatively old allow you to live for several days
question: Who had instructed this at least, while they investigate your
robotic instrument to talk to him nervous system in detail, and with
on such a level of appraisal? more care than last time. The last
He grew aware again of the ma- ——
time” there was a mechanical
chine’s voice: chuckle “they acted too hastily and

WORLD OF A i«$
: :

released forcesbeyond their control. There was someone here who was
“But now, before I give you your on his side. Who?
finalinstructions, any questions?” The plane began to tilt down-
There was a prolonged pause. ward.
“Better hurry,” it said, “and
“Questions?” said Gosseyn fi- formulate your questions.”
nally. They were going to land.
His mind made a leap, then re- In a few minutes, grimly amused^
coiled before the extent of liis —
men like Thorson perhans Thor-
danger. He had underestimated his son himself would —
be putting
enemy. Memory came of the handcuffs on him, and leading him
strong, clear-out, executive charac- to secret hideouts of the gang.
ter of President Hardie and he — Leading him to his death as if it
knew that he had no business under- was already an accomplished fact.
estimating men who had gone as far Stiffly, Gosseyn leaned back in
as had the members of
tremen- this his seat. There were basic ques-
dous, solar-system-embracing gang. tions that he would like to have an
The fleeting thought came that swered, but just where he should
all thiswas a trick of “X”, to make begin was a question in itself. He
Gilbert Gosseyn give himself up found himself thinking darkly that
without a struggle. The possibility the time he had spent persuading
slowed his intense excitement. Sar- the Prescotts had been wasted. Be-
donicism came, the realization that cause they had merely intended to
there was no way he could judge inform Detective Registry of his
what was really going on. He must story. And right now, Detective
adopt a. casual, meet-situations-as- Registry was “X”.
they-liappened attitude, and commit He was back where he had
himself to nothing. started. No one knew but he and
He forced himself to sit down. the Games' Machine and this robo-
And grew aware that it was rain- plane.
ing. Gosseyn’s mind poised like a
That distracted
startled, him. startled bird in flight. Where had
The lashed and beat against
rain the roboplane gotten its informa-
the porthole beside which Gosseyn tion ?

sat. He realized that the machine He looked up. He parted his


had been shuddering for minutes lips. But it was the machine that
under the weighty impact of the spoke first:
collapsing sky. With an effort, he “I’m sorry,” the voice.
said
drew his thought away from the “There is no more time for ques-
hiss and roar of the water. There tions. Here, then, are your final
was another angle in all this instructions
Whoever had given the original “In a few moments, you will be
instructions to the plane had dis- landed beside the forest home of an
approved of the “X"- Hardie gang. ‘X’ detective. Go to him, and tell
170 ASTOUNDING SCIJSNCK FICTION
” !

your story of the threat to A, as immense, damp darkness of an alien


if you do not know that he is an planet.
agent of the gang. Carry the pre- VIII.
tense through to the last possible
moment, but you must be the judge “The characters which science
of your danger at any given time. discerns in nature are subtle char-
And now, the Games’ Machine, acters. They are relations of rela-
whose agent I am gives you one tions and characters of characters.”
last warning
— A. N. W.
“Just a minute!” said Gosseyn.
“Did you say the Machine ?” He had to get out of the rain.
Light was coming at last into Like a man pushing through a
his mind. raging stream, Gosseyn bent into
“One last warning,” the voice re- the downpour, and trudged grimly
peated relentlessly. “There is a ahead.
factor involved in this affair, of In a way the rain relieved him.
which the Machine knows almost He had had a curious uneasy fear
nothing. There is an alien
literally that strange creatures might be
life factor behind *X’, of the exist- watching for him. That fear was
ence of which scarcely any evidence gone.
is available. But whatever evidence Not in this rain would anything
there is, you will find it here. be lying in wait for him. At
“And now we land.” least, not until he got in among the
There was a bump, then a jerky sheltering trees.
glide, that ended. There must be trees. If, as the
“Out,” said the voice. “Get out roboplanc had said, he was near
I cannot remain here even a min- the forest home of an “X” agent,
ute. Get out. Quick!” then there would be a forest. He
Its tone impelled Gosseyn. He could, of course, be going in the
was at the door before he stopped, wrong direction.
and half turned. The questions Gosseyn thought not. The robo-
were crowding liis brain now. plane had let him off on this side.
“But!” he began. And was cut The rain pelted his face and legs
off. and arms. After he had floundered
“Hurry, hurry !” said the robo- forward about eight minutes, Gos-
planc. “We can’t take a single seyn had the feeling that it was
chance with this unhuman intel- letting up a little.

ligence. It is vital that no one sus- He paused, and looked up. But
pect how you were brought here. there was nothing to see. The rain
Out with you into the night. Every brought the sky right down to the
second counts.” ground and the sky pressed with a
;

Reluctant but obedient, Gosseyn thousand needles of water upon his


stepped out into the pouring rain. unprotected, upturned face.
A moment later he was alone in the Streams of it poured into his nos-

WORLD OF A 171
:

trils, and sought access to his brightness, promising comfort, and


mouth. He stopped breathing.
,
relieffrom the soaked clothing that
Standing there, Gosseyn had the clung damply to his body. He de-
impression that he was prisoned at cided not to worry too much about
the bottom of a sea in a world of physical ease.
endless water. Dark was that sea; Out there in the rain, he had made
and, like all the darkness that ever up his mind that he liad no alterna-
was, full of mystery and menace. tive but to follow the advice of the
He lowered his head again, and Machine. Pondering that purpose,
plunged on. And realized after less Gosseyn paused in the shadows of
than a minute more that he had a patch of underbrush, and studied
been right. The rain was slowing. the house in the tree.
It ended while he was still out He waited, watching for figures
in the open. Mild and fresh, the to silhouette against the great win-
darkness flowed around him. No dow’s. But the light continued un-
longer was it alien, but peaceful like changing. There was not even a
the nights of the past two weeks. reflected movement from inside.
He knew when he struck dry Satisfied, Gosseyn stepped into
ground that he had reached the for- the light. He had already noticed
est. Gosseyn paused, and studied a great stairway to his right, cut
the darkness. Now that the rain out of the solid trunk. Pie walked
had ended, there was physical peace up the steps to a terrace that led to
all right. But now, also, what the a closed, ornate door.
roboplane had said about the aliens, He knocked, strongly.
took on new potentialities:
" Whatever evidence there is, you A minute dragged by. At the
unit find it here end of it, the thought had already
Gosseyn stared and stared. But come to Gosseyn that there might
the blackness remained uniform in be no one at home, despite the blaz-
every direction, untouched even by ing lights. His leveling off on a
a suggestion of light. basis of unqualified boldness per-
He began to feel obstinate. He mitted no prolonged time gap. Once
couldn’t have been misled. He more he knocked, and then he tried
strode forward a hundred yards, the knob.
and he was not surprised when he The door opened noiselessly,
saw a glimmer to his left. It was a revealing a dimly lighted corridor.
vague reflection that grew brighter A corridor that had been cut cA.it of
as he walked. It became a glow the solid wood, highly polished, and
that splashed the ground, and then left in its natural state.
lightened up neighboring trees. It shone with a dull luster. It
After about ten minutes alto- had an intricate design, resembling
gether, Gosseyn saw its source mahogany centerwood, but its color-
Massive windows in a tree. ing was like dark walnut veneer.
They poured forth a cheerful One flashing glance Gosseyn
172 ASTOUNDING SCIENCE-FICTION
;

took; and had the picture of it. He which, except for its size, seemed to
stood briefly hesitant. It would be be quite ordinary Books, electronic
:

silly if a man who intended to sur- records, and pamphlets made up its
render was shot as a lawless in- contents.
truder. As he passed through the library,
He knocked once more, on the Gosseyn glanced at a book lying on
inner side of the door this time. No a table beside a chair. The title
answer. That settled it. He must, was “Detective In
: A
World With-
according to the laws governing out Criminals.”
null-A decisions, assume he had the He picked it up with trembling
house to himself, and act accord- fingers. A
Venusian book. A
ingly. genuine, Venusian, null-A book!
The decision made, he walked With a wild surmise, he flung his
forward towards where a light came gaze along the lines of shelves. In
dazzling through an open door. He that swift examination, the library
paused in the doorway for a mo- lost 'its ordinariness, and came alive.
ment, then went into a large, cozy- With a great effort, he forced him-
living room which, like the corridor, self out of thatroom.
had been carved out of the solid Later, he decided shakily, he
wood of the great tree. would read his way through it.
It, too, was highly polished, but It struck him sharply that he had
apparently a different finishing no doubt there would be a later for
process had been used, for the wood him. The realization brought a new,
was lighter. The effect was of rich- intimate awareness of something
ness, a magnificence accentuated by that had been at the back of his
the furniture and by a rug that was mind for some minutes:
at least ninety feet long by sixty- Suppose, as now seemed appar-
wide. It was from here, obviously, ent, the owner of this magnificent
that the light had come that he had apartment was out. Out hunting
seen outside. Massive, gleaming for him! No doubt the man would
windows curved spaciously along return in due course, but his absence
one entire wall the full length of now posed a psychological problem.
the room. Gilbert Gosseyn’s decision was
The room was empty of human postponed. He remained uncom-
beings. mitted. Until the last minute before
It had five doors leading from it “X” ’s agent came back, a change of
and Gosseyn followed each one in mind was possible.
turn. To a kitchen with pantries It left things unsettled. It would
and cold rooms and breakfast nook make for nerve wear, for unease,
leading off of it. To five bedrooms, and for recurring doubts as to the
each with private bath, and with a advisability of staying here to be
doorway leading into a dark room captured by an enemy, when a whole
that seemed to be an immense gar- planet-ful of people had yet to be
den inside the tree. And to a library warned of danger.
WORLD or A ns
f N

In leaving the library, Gosseyn what people told you, ami you
had emerged into a corridor that strained and strained to remember.
had two other doors leading from And also you did things like
it. He ended his thought, and tried escaping from chains and captors,
them in turn. As with all the without any idea of how you bad
doors in the place, they were un- gotten away. Funny, he couldn't
locked. One opened into the kitch- remember anything about his iden-
en the other into darkness.
;
tity, except that it was important.

The light from the hallway lie What could it be?


was in poured over his shoulder; There simply weren’t any special
and, after his eyes grew accustomed people in the null-A universe. In
to the dimness, he saw that he was the old, romantic days, he could
looking into a long corridor. After have turned out to be a prince of
a hundred and fifty feet, the light some great Imperium, or a special
melted into shadow, but Gosseyn government agent, or the son oi
had the impression that the hallway some super-rich glamor merchant.
continued on into the depths of the But there was nothing like that
tree bole. possible now. True, there were rich
He closed the door, and went men in great numbers, and presum-
slowly to one of the bedrooms. He ably President Hardie’s agents
removed his scanty clothing, washed could be called government agents
each piece in turn, and then took a of a sort. But values had changed.
bath himself. Finally, refreshed People were people, normally born
and drowsy, he crawled under the equal, requiring the simple, straight-
thin sheets. forward, null-A training to inte-
The around him was as
silence grate their intelligence.
complete as anything he had ex- There were no kings, no arch-
perienced during his sixteen days on dukes, no supermen, traveling in-
Venus. His thoughts turned in- cognito.
ward to the mystery of Gilbert Gos- Who ivas he that he was so im-
seyn, who had once been killed, and portant ?
now lived again. Even the gods of He must have slept with that
old hadn’t done any better than that. thought hard in his mind.

Who was he? Who WHO? Somewhere in the dark of the


The devastating thing was that he —
room a rustling sound. Gosseyn
had actually been told, and had for- half wakened, then turned over as
gotten. The reality of that forget- the sound resolved itself into whis-
fulness wrenched his mind for the pers. Meaningless whispers, that
hundredth time. Because his lack grew loud, then faded. Something
of memory about that made every- feathery whisked over his cheek. He
thing shaky, in spite of what the brushed at the thing with one hand.
roboplane had told him. It was too And stirred, the clouds of sleep
like a dream. In dreams you forgot lifting. An insect! he thought.

174 ASTOUNDING SCIENCE -PICT 10


He was starting to sink again Gosseyn whistled furiously as he
into unconsciousness, when the strode into the kitchen. Nor was
wrongness of his epithet penetrated. there anything quiet about the way
Insects He had seen no insects on
i he peered into drawers and cup-
Venus, no animal life of any kind. boards. He rattled .pans and pots.
The whisperings were loud once He brought a cup and saucer down
more. The detective must have from a shelf with a crash. He
come home, Gosseyn analyzed wear- fried his bacon with a crackle and
ily. His brain seemed satisfied splash of fat. And he ate noisily:
with that explanation in some curi- bacon, toast, tea and fresh Venusian
ous, unanxious Jashion. Because he fruit. The fruit went very nicely
relaxed then, and slept. with cream and sugar.
He was eating the fruit, still with
Gosseyn wakened with a start. a tensed expectancy that he would
The light of day shone through the be interrupted any second, when the
open bedroom door from the cor- firstdoubt penetrated.
ridor that led to the living room. “What on earth,” he wondered
He scarcely noticed. Books! he aloud, “gave me the idea someone
was thinking, excitedly. A Venusian came in last night.”
library. In minutes he would be He sat remembering the whisper-
at it. ings. A
chill crept over him. He
He sat up. And remembered the finished the fruit, and swiftly ex-
sounds of the night. Slowly, he plored the apartment. The living
settled back. He'd better forget the room was bright with the daylight
books. He lay, eyes wide, thinking that blazed in through the great
with gathering shock of the easy windows. None of the bedrooms,
way his mind had, during the night, except his own, had been slept in.
accepted the return of the detective. But the door that led into the in-
“Don’t shoot me,” he muttered terior of the tree was wide open.
sardonically, “until I’ve had a good Gosseyn stared at it, then peered
night’s rest.” along the corridor. It was as dark
That was the way he had reacted. as it had been the night before. Had
And now, his problem was to bring he shut the door? Or hadn't he?
his presence to the attention of an He couldn't remember for sure,
“X” agent. He climbed out of bed, but it seemed to him that he had.
determined on an intermediate “I wouldn’t,” he decided, “have left
tactic. it open except by purest accident.”

He washed noisily, whistling He returned to the living room,


loudly and tunelessly the while. It his mind probing the possibilities.
was all just a little foolish. But not Since he had no real evidence, he
too much so. Theoretically, if the slowly forced the unpleasantness out
other man heard sounds, he would of his system. The windows drew
not fire on sight. his physical attention as well as his
That was important. mental. And now he saw what he

WORLD OF A 175
hadn't noticed the night before: garden because books. A minute —
The house in the tree looked out later he was in. the library.
on a green, gorgeous meadow. Tart
of that meadow, as well as the As a starter, he took down four
shrubs in which he had briefly con- volumes: "The Aristotelian And
cealed himself during the night, Non- Aristotelian History of Ve-
formed a portion of a neatly ar- nus,” “The Machine And Its Build-
ranged garden. The garden cov- ers,” “The Solipsist On Non-Aris-
ered several acres, and was ter- totelian Venus” and the volume he
raced up towards the tree to some bad noticed the evening before,
connection with the tree that Gos- titled: "Detectives In A World
seyn couldn’t see from the living Without Criminals.”
room windows. Each volume had in its frontis-
A flashing memory came to Gos- piece the name "Eldred Crang”.
seyn of the dark gardenlike space Gosseyn deduced without feeling
onto which doors from each of the too brilliant that that was his host’s
bedrooms had led. name.
That was in the general direction So this was the home of the man
of the outside terrace. whom "X” had claimed had helped
It required only a few seconds to him to corrupt the Games Machine.
get there. And it was exactly as Gosseyn read snatches. He read,
he had so suddenly analyzed. The dogged by the continual worry that
garden began inside the tree, about he would be interrupted. He started
seventy feet inside. A mere chip with the history. It told the story,
that seventy feet was, out of such a long-suppressed on Earth, of the
mass of growing wood. But it made first men to land on Venus. It told
possible adream of a garden for a of the realization by the Institute of
human being: General Semantics just then, in
Shrubs he hadn’t seen wild, aglow 2018 A.D., entering its govern-
with flowers. Flowers as big as mental phase, of the null-A poten-
Earth trees, so blazing with color tialities of the bountiful planet. The
that they seemed to be giving off Machine method of selecting colon-
a light of their own. What an ex- ists came a hundred years later and ;

perimental paradise Venusian flora the greatest selective emigration


must have been, must be, for botan- plan in the history of man began to
ists. gather momentum.
He had seen a tiny portion of . Population of Venus as of
. .

those results at the hospital in the 2560 A.D. 119,000,038 males.


. . .

mountains. But there was a greater 120,743,280 females.


naturalness about this home in a Feverishly, Gosseyn turned to a
tree, with a garden that exhaled chapter titled: “The Native Life of
its perfume like an invisible spray, Venus.” It began:
so thick was the scent. Daniel Miller, the first man to step
Gosseyn turned away from the from the first spaceship to land on Venus,

17ft ASTOUNDING SCIENCE-FICTION


: — : ! —
returned from a brief exploratory trip The argument was not altogether
into the nearest forest of primeval Venus,
convincing to a man who was ac-
and said to his men
tually sitting in such a hollowed-out
“We'll have to be very careful. Every
minute I was out I had the impression tree. Gosseyn glanced grimly
l was being followed, and watched by around the library with its polished
curious eyes. What worries me is, I saw walls, the completeness of the room
nothing, not a movement nor a foot-
as a room. This a product of dry
print. Whoever trailed me excels at
camouflage perhaps intelligent Venu- rot ? Never
;

sians are naturally colored some varia- Of must have been fixed
course, it

tion .of dark and light shade. In any up. Doors must have been added,
event, if the inhabitants are so deliber-
the walls smoothed off and sanded
ately evasive, we’d better be on the alert
day and night.”
but
The "inhabitants” of Venus have been Gosseyn put aside the book, and
equally evasive during the past four hun- sat thoughtful and self-critical. Had
dred years. They are neither dark in he heard something the night be-
color nor light. Their methods of
camouflage are so superlative that they
fore? He had a pretty solid con-
have succeeded in convincing two hun- viction that he had. But what?
dred million human beings that animal Whisperings?
life does not, in fact, exist on Venus.
His speculations exhausted them-
selves for want of additional evi-
The author went on to report and
dence, and because there was no
discuss various .ethnological and
time. With a nervous speed, he
anthropological finds, the discovery
put aside the history, passed over
of which, from time to time, seemed
“The Machine And Its Builders”
to indicate that primitive beings had
after all, lie knew something of the
once lived on the second planet.
One by one he disposed of the

Machine and snatched up “The
Solipsist On Non- Aristotelian Ve-
“finds”.The most difficult to ex- rms,” by Lauren Kair, Ps.D.
plain, certain hollowed trees, he at- There was a little note in the
tributed after a masterly analysis of frontispiece to the effect that Dr.
the diseases of Venusian flora, to a Kair was now practicing on Earth.
species of dry rot. This rot, affect- It was on page 110 that he ran
ing trees at various stages, made for across something he had been wan-
cavernous interiors as the tree grew dering about for days, a paragraph
larger. Interiors complete with that read
chambers and antechambers.
The great basic behind his ex- The most difficult to isolate of all
planations, the reality which in a egotists is the man or woman who has
been in an accident that has resulted in
ponderous fashion made all his
injuries which do not immediately cause
plausibilities respectable was the un- after effects.
doubted fact that, in four centuries,
no human beings had ever reported Gosseyn stopped there, tingling.
having seen, a Venusian insect, bird, There might be unhuman beings in
reptile or animal. all this. But here at least was a

WORLD OP A 171
concrete logicality so far as “X” deadly, and the nerve system as a
wAe, coi»3erned. whole was so antihuman that Gos-
“X”, the frightfully injured. seyn felt a chill, and he woke up
Why not, then. “X”. Venusian shivering as if cold hands had
solipsist? reached through his flesh and bones,
It seemed convincing. and clutched at his heart.
Gosseyn sat up jerkily in the bed.
The whisperings came out oi the Silence flowed around him like a
darkness of his bedroom. They waveless sea. It was so quiet that
were angrier than the night before, his faint breathing was loud; and
argumentative, dissatisfied. Gos- he could hear the uneven beating
seyn, half-asleep, gradually grew of his heart. He had turned out the
tense with the vague feeling that living, room lights and the darkness
;

some of the whisperers were urging was like pitch.


drastic action ; others counseled He sat there, thinking about his
‘delay, caution. dream, dismissed it finally as a va-
As the half dream, half conscious poring out of his own subconscious,
awareness dragged on and on, the product of fear and secret imagin'-
angry whispers slowly transformed ings. Not so easily dismissible were
into grudging agreements. Silence the things he had been told, and his
settled upon the bedroom, an un- own conviction that it was time he
easy silence that merged gradually did something about it.

into a dream. The Machine had said that here


It was astory dream, strangely if anywhere the evidence of alien
coherent, acted out against a back- intelligence would be available.
ground of space immensities. Great, Where? Here, a few feet away.
blazing stars swam into his ken, and Slowly, Gosseyn climbed out of
hurtled off into distance behind the bed, dressed. And walked the few
shapes with which he was traveling. feet. He stood, then, peering up
There was something wrong with the dim corridor that led into the
the stars, something that was a prod- depths of a tree that was an eighth
uct not of the sun itself, but of of a mile thick and half a mile
the eye that was seeing it. tall.

It took a long time for Gosseyn The fact that it was night didn’t
to grasp even an inkling of what matter. It was always night inside
was wrong; to realize that the eye a tunnel. And besides he had no-
through which he was peering, was ticed an atomic flashlight in the
part of a nervous system that was kitchen.
not human, not of Earth, nor of Gosseyn twisted on his heels, and
Earth’s spawn. It was a nervous got the flashlight. He left the tun-
system that made radically different nel door open behind him. He began
from the real world. It
abstractions to walk along the low-roofed cor-
saw a plenum that was cruel and ridor into the interior of the tree.
to be c<
178 ASTOUNDING SCIENCE-FICTION
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