Saturday, August 15, 2009

James White's "Christmas Treason" (novelette, humor): When little kids brought about global nuclear disarmament!

Lord Shri Krishna, depicted as a childToday was Janmashtami (oops - day has changed! but no matter). Since I don't have an appropriate story about Lord Krishna's birthday, I thought may be I'll post about another holy birthday - even if from another religion, born on a different date, & according to a different calender at that! Picture alongside is, however, an artist's impression of Lord Krishna - the naughtiest & one of the most widely worshiped Hindu gods who has inspired so much art, philosophy & politics.

This story is a hilarious variant of Theodore Sturgeon's grim novel "More Than Human".

Story summary.

6 kids & friends - 2 from US, 1 each from UK & USSR, & 2 from Japan (Is Christmas as big an even in Japan as in other 3 countries?) Between them, they are capable of telepathy, teleporting, & telekinesis. So when the Japanese mom thinks the kids are playing in their room, they're in fact with their friends in US! Of course, they'll be back where mom expects them at dinner time!

Their unusually active imagination has them worried: how to guarantee that they'll get their gifts during Christmas a few days hence? You see, there is only one Santa Clause - & an old man at that. He comes on that sled & from some cavern in far North. And there are so many kids. How can he deliver them all their gifts during a single night? Of course, some kids are going to be missed. They just want to ensure they won't be the ones missed.

What follows are incidents that drive US & Soviet military commanders nuts: little kids querying about Santa Claus in underground missile facilities in the north! During their "Investigation" & with peculiar child logic, kids conclude that
  1. Santa has long since given up sled & delivers toys in rockets now.
  2. Bad guys have driven Santa's men out from these toy storage facilities & have put shiny green things in these rockets.
  3. "Thieves" that neighborhood store owners become during festival season (according a child's mom) are the ones who've stolen Santa's toys.
Next thing the adult world knows & is still scratching its head in puzzlement is: nuclear missiles have been launched by both sides, but what came out of their noses at attack locations are kids' toys rather than nuclear bombs! And then there are those reports of large number of toys stolen from stores...

Collected in.

  1. Isaac Asimov & Martin H Greenberg (Eds)' "Isaac Asimov Presents the Great SF Stories 24 (1962)".

Fact sheet.

First published: F&SF, January 1962.
Rating: A.