Story summary.Humanity is divided into 3 races: normal humans, "true slans", & "tendrilless slans". "True slans" are carefully bred intellectual & physical supermen from natural human mutations. "Tendrilless slans" are carefully mutated form of "true slans" - they don't have tell-tale "golden" tendrils in their hair that act as telepathic antennae in "true slans", & they're'nt telepathic. It's these tendrils that sets "true slans" visually apart from normal humans, &
makes them easy hate targets - hence "tendrilless slans".
This is the story of Jommy Cross, 9 year old when we first meet him. His mother has just been killed for being a slan; he's being hunted to be killed. We'll see him growing up in a world that hates him for being what he is, but like a true hero, he never stoops to becoming an animal in spite of his superhuman abilities.
We'll also meet Kathleen Layton, a 13 year old who's also on the death row for being a slan; her story will abruptly end partway through & later return in a totally crazy way.
- The word "slan" is a sort of shortening of "Samuel Lann". He's the semi-mythical man who arranged conditions for first "true slans" to breed in numbers.
- Henry Kuttner & C L Moore's "Mutant" series of short stories (most are online): Far more thoughtful exploration of similar idea & plot.
Fact sheet.First published: Astounding, Sep/Oct/Nov/Dec 1940.
Among the stories from Astounding/Analog issues edited by John Campbell.
Related: Stories of A E van Vogt.