Sunday, December 23, 2012

Robert Silverberg & Randall Garrett's "The Chosen People" (as by Robert Randall) (novelette, communications, free): Teaching the scientific method to deeply tradition bound

One of the illustrations by van Dongen accompanying the publication in British edition of Astounding Science Fiction magazine of short story The Chosen People by Robert Silverberg and Randall Garrett. Image shows a human teacher with his alien student.
This rarely reprinted story would be among my all time favorite science fiction. It's a study in how to win friends & influence people!

Story summary.

There is a deeply religious & tradition-bound alien society on a world called Nidor. Humans came a few decades back, & seem to be wise & religious beyond question; so they're respected & have been allowed to run a local school that teaches the familiar to youngsters, sometimes in new ways. And what a revolution it is brewing!

Story is told via a massive local disaster that can only be averted with the new ways of thinking: "Hugl", small insect-sized pests, travel in vast swarms & destroy everything in their path. Only "Edris powder", the traditional insecticide, is not working this year...

Fact sheet.

First published: Astounding, June 1956.
According to ISFDB, it's first of the 3 stories that make up the fix-up novel "The Shrouded Planet".
Download full text as part of scans of Astounding (British Edition), November 1956.
Rating: A.
Among the stories from Astounding/Analog issues edited by John Campbell.
Related: Stories of Robert Silverberg, Randall Garrett.