Tuesday, February 22, 2011

James H Schmitz's "Oneness" (short story, telepathy, free): Moving from autocracy towards something more benign

Illustration by Leo Summers, accompanying the original publication in Analog magazine of short story Oneness by James H Schmitz. Picture shows the prisoner surprising his interrogators.
I've a feeling this is a cold war story about USSR from US perspective of the time, though neither country is mentioned & my reading on the subject is limited.

Story summary.

Earth is run with an iron hand by a political entity called "the Machine" - essentially the rule of a few powerful men, without checks. Political dissent is severely dealt with. A penal colony was set up on Mars, & has a lot of dissidents with good scientific training.

One find day, these "Mars Convicts" develop stardrive & escape. Now, 50 years later, a lone ship of theirs, with a single passenger, is back. The passenger is Rainbolt, "a trained specialist" in the "practical applications" of "the principles of Oneness" they've developed. He's captured, of course.

His magic begins to spread as his interrogation, including torture, begins...

Fact sheet.

First published: Analog, May 1963.
Download full text from Project Gutenberg.
Rating: B.
Among the stories from Astounding/Analog issues edited by John Campbell.
Related: Stories of James H Schmitz.


Paul said...

Maybe the story was inspired by the Nazis. According to Wikipedia, Schmitz was an American born in Germany who lived there for many years, departing for the United States in 1938.

Tinkoo said...

Thanks for clarifying, Paul. Only the discussion of Mars Convicts sounded a bit like Siberian prisoners.

I may be wrong, of course. My reading on both Nazis & US/Soviet relationship is quite limited.