Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Olde Tyme Science Fiction

Harvard Magazine has a section in which readers may ask if anybody can identify a certain quotation, poem, story, etc.  A recent supplicant asked for help identifying a 1950s science fiction story vaguely remembered.  I immediately recognized the plot as an Isaac Asimov story.  Though I could not remember the title, Wikipedia's detailed bibliography of Asimov's short stories allowed me to track it down.  I then e-mailed the information in, hoping to have the glory of being the first responder.  Damn!  I was not fast enough.  The guy who won hadn't even read the story; he'd only heard a description of it.

I started reading science fiction pretty young; I remember reading the Space Cat series and Miss Pickerell Goes to Mars.

In later years I had a subscription to The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction.  There are some stories that stick with me but, like the questioner above, I cannot recall the title or author.  In one such story, the Earth passed through some kind of field that stripped animals of the ability to kill other animals.  I think the plot stuck with me because war disappeared without pain or effort.  Along comes this field; violence is banned.  A bullfighter could not bring himself to do his bullfighting job.  A lion starved to death, because he was an obligate carnivore.  I felt sorry for the lion, though the author said it was necessary for the New World to flourish.

Now I realize that such a New World is unworkable.  Rabbits, deer, small fish, and other former prey would eat all the plants in no time.  Soon the whole animal kingdom would starve to death, cursing that allegedly utopian field!  Good thing it was just a story!

1 comment:

KarenK said...

I remember reading the Mrs. Pickerell Goes to Mars Story! (And other Mrs. Pickerell Wild Adventure Stories.)