Friday, December 31, 2010

Norman Spinrad's "Subjectivity" (short story, free): Nonsensical but funny parody of some genre tropes

One of the illustrations by Leo Summers accompanying the original publication in Analog Science Fact and Fiction magazine of short story Subjectivity by Norman Spinrad. Image shows the space travelers harassed by monsters cooked up by their vivid imaginations induced by a hallucinogenic substance.
Several old genre tropes here, but this story did make me laugh at a few places:
  1. A government does something, anything, so a bored & restless population won't destroy the society. Howard L Myers' "econo-war"(?) series of dozen odd stories is primarily about this, but a lot of other authors have used it too.
  2. Mind drugs & hallucinations: My favorite story of the class is Rog Phillips' "The Yellow Pill" (download), may be the only one primarily on this subject that I've actually liked. This story features the super-drug "Omnidrene".
  3. How extreme loneliness affects individuals. See, e.g., Tom Godwin's "The Nothing Equation" (download), & Eric Frank Russell's "Tieline".
  4. A stubborn & crazy government.
  5. Monsters.

Story summary.

Solar Government has decided that man will go to stars. So a ship capable of traveling at half the light speed is built, capable of carrying 10 individuals to Alpha Centauri in a 16 year round-trip journey.

Only problem is: the ship gets lost & never returns; its crew going mad out of boredom. Next ship is built. And next... Every time, a new kind of crew is tried. Until the novel & crazy experiment with 13th ship which "succeeds" beyond everyone's imaginations...

Fact sheet.

First published: Analog, January 1964.
Download full text from Project Gutenberg.
Rating: B.
Among the stories edited by John Campbell for Astounding/Analog.
Related: Stories of Norman Spinrad.


Krishnan said...

Tinkoo, wishing you the very best in 2011.

Tinkoo said...

Thank you, Krishnan. Wish you the same.

WCG said...

Tinkoo, you make all of these sound so interesting! I just wish I had the time to read them all.