Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Eric Frank Russell's "Postscript" aka "P.S." (short story, philosophy, free): How appearances affect our perception

Illustration accompanying the original appearance in Science Fiction Plus magazine of short story Postscript by Eric Frank Russell
Unlike some of Ted Chiang's philosophical stories, this one is a human story. And while not a hilarious one, as many of the author's most memorable works are, it made me smile in later parts - as the idea stuck home.

Story summary.

Dr Malcolm Harrison, now 77, had made a pen-pal 65 years ago with Gaily (aka Vandashanda), a "girl" who's a native of the far away world Reba. They've been good friends ever since, & still exchange letters.

One fine day, Doc accidentally stumbles into Jim Corlett, a much younger acquaintance in Space Service who'd recently returned from 17 years in space. Among the gossip exchanged is Jim's 2 days stop at Reba, & his repulsive reaction to its intelligent smelly native fungi! He even has brought back a picture of 6 natives - among them one Vandashanda!

How should the Doc be affected by the revelation that his long time friend "Gaily" is not a woman but smelly fungus?

Fact sheet.

First published: Science-Fiction Plus, October 1953.
Download full text as part of the scans of the magazine it originally appeared in.
Rating: A.
Related: Stories of Eric Frank Russell (annotated & ranked list); Tuesday Classics.