Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Ross Rocklynne's "Quietus" (short story, first contact, free): "who we are creates a bias in how we view the world"

Quote from short story titled Quietus by Ross RocklynneConcept is very similar to Eric Frank Russell's "Dear Devil": A post-apocalypse earth, with few remaining humans turned to primitive existence. Well intentioned aliens have come to help the local sentients.

But what a difference in the way the plot develops & ends!

Story summary.

Tommy, 21 year old, is the sole human remaining in a small green patch on an otherwise dead earth. At least he thinks so, till he learns of a very shy girl too. And there is Blacky - Tommy's pet talking crow! Blacky actually behaves like talking parrots we are familiar with, but author tells us it's a crow.

We have a love story here - both Tommy & girl are attracted to each other. But whenever they're about to meet, Backy's speech scares her away.

On a separate thread, we have two alien visitors: Tark & his mate, Vascar. From a world called Alcon. They see signs of existence of sentients once upon this now dead world, & feel sad. Land on the sole green patch with the intention of locating the local sentients, & helping them get back up their old glory.

The rub is: these visitors are sentient birds. There will be some drama, their near conclusion that Blacky is the sentient & Tommy is his draft animal (Blacky often rides on Tommy's shoulder)!

And sad ending - when Blacky has scared away the girl for umpteenth time & Tommy is in the rage & aliens decide to protect the sentient from his gone berserk beast of burden!

Collected in.

  1. David Drake, Jim Baen, & Eric Flint (Ed)'s "The World Turned Upside Down".
  2. Raymond J Healy & J Francis McComas (Eds)' "Adventures in Time and Space".

Fact sheet.

First published: Astounding Science Fiction, September 1940.
Rating: A
Download full text.