Monday, March 29, 2010

Robert Abernathy's "The Record of Currupira" (short story, free): The origins of human speech & music

Quote from short story The Record of Currupira by Robert AbernathyI might have liked it more without its monster hunting parts, but it's still a decent enough read.

May be 2 years back, I recall a Discovery or National Geographic show in India that reconstructed an ancient predator. A predator whose hunting technique was very similar to that in this story.

Story summary.

Human explorers on Mars have found dead Martian cities. And from a museum in one of these cities, they've found earthly relics dating 50,000 years back! Apparently, Martians visited earth in that remote time, & collected specimen.

Among the specimen is a video recording & a flute. Men have rebuilt a machine that can play back the recording, minus visual parts - only sounds. Two scientists who hear it first - James Dalton, a linguist, & Dr Oliver Thwaite, an archeologist - will get nightmares for days afterward: the recording is of a human lured & eaten by an animal somewhere near equator!

"Currupira" of title is the name of this ancient predator. It makes different sounds to terrorize or sooth its prey - so the prey will come willingly to it! And some of the sounds it makes are very human; apparently, men learned the power of words from this hunter!

Thwaite has an idea the animal may not be extinct, & goes hunting it in Brazil. Dalton follows, but has a better idea of a weapon to fight the monster - the ancient flute!

We'll hear fearful accounts of locals about this monster. Of course, the heroes will eventually find it, & Thwaite will almost become its meal - until Dalton gets courage to deploy the flute as a weapon.

See also.

  1. Arthur Clarke's "History Lesson": Venusians have found a well preserved video recording of the long extinct humans, & have built a machine to play it back. We see very funny theories about what the bipeds in the pictures might be doing & the apparent purposes of their visible anatomical features.
  2. Henry Kuttner's "Nothing But Gingerbread Left" (download): Music as a weapon in WWII! Very funny story.

Fact sheet.

First published: Fantastic Universe, January 1954.
Download full text from Project Gutenberg or Manybooks.
Rating: B.
Related: Fiction from 1950s.