Friday, April 27, 2012

Katherine MacLean's "Incommunicado" (novelette, intellectual supermen)

Quote from short story Incommunicado by Katherine MacLean
While there are many stories that propose to turn you into a genius by repurposing the large part of brain devoted to visual processing, this may be the first one I've seen that proposes to transform humanity into Homo Superiors by rewiring the auditory part of the brain - by training the brain via especially designed auditory tones.

But by & large, I found the story & its setup boring. Set near Pluto - in a station & a construction site.


Apparently, the idea of this story has been taken seriously by someone: 'George was impressed by Katherine Maclean's 1950 story "Incommunicado", which imagined computer workers achieving rapport with their machines by unconsciously learning to understand the equipment's meeps and bleeps. In the 70s my pal Martin Hoare, then working for ICL, was grabbed by George and told to examine the possibilities. Nothing came of it ... but, as George would say, suppose it had?'

See also.

  1. L Sprague de Camp's "Alanias" (download as part of a larger package): Here too someone is transforming the unaware, by making them hear certain auditory tones & hence rewiring the brain. But purpose here is not to create supermen, but to create ... "pathological liars"!

Collected in.

  1. Groff Conklin (ed)'s "Six Great Short Science Fiction Novels".

Fact sheet.

First published: Astounding, June 1950.
Rating: B. 
Among the stories edited by John Campbell for Astounding/Analog.