Re: a story by the wonderful David Deutsch

From: Jim Fehlinger (
Date: Fri Jul 21 2000 - 05:28:19 MDT

"Eliezer S. Yudkowsky" wrote:
> wrote:
> >
> > One of the more interesting short stories in SciFi writer, Larry Niven's
> > collection is "On A Foggy Night".
> That's one of the ones that came to mind; the other one is "He walked
> around the horses" and the rest of H. Beam Piper's Paratime series.

The most haunting parallel world story I have ever encountered is
Damon Knight's _What Rough Beast?_. This was in an Ace paperback I once
owned of _The Best From 'Fantasy and Science Fiction'_, Ninth Series,
edited by Robert P. Mills (1959), which also contained the original
short-story version of _Flowers for Algernon_. I lent this volume to
a friend long ago (in 1973, as I now recall), and had long forgotten
it, but the contents of the Damon Knight story kept bubbling up to
consciousness even though I couldn't remember its title or author.

Only the advent of the Web in my life (just three and a half years ago!)
enabled me to restore this connection -- I spent a Saturday afternoon
free-associating and brute-force-searching in the Contento index
(, and re-acquired the title and
name of the author. After that, it was an easy matter to find
the book itself at an on-line used book site (probably

_What Rough Beast?_ makes excellent Christmastime reading.

I had a similar "mission" to recover the author and title of another
story I had read in a volume I checked out of my elementary-school
library when I was in 5th or 6th grade. That story had a memorable
precursor of nanotechish ideas in it -- it was about a starship
"garage" whose owner had to get the details about a seamless
manufacturing technology (called in the story "molecular
spray") in order to complete a prestigious repair contract which
the proprietor had won by claiming to have the technology in the
first place. This story turned out to be _Tools of the Trade_ by
F. Jones, published in the anthology _Space, Space, Space_, edited
by William Sloane (Grosset & Dunlap, 1953). This volume also contains
Alan E. Nourse's memorable _Nightmare Brother_, which fact I **did**
remember (along with the title of the Nourse story), and which I
was able to use as a key to help track the anthology containing
the obscurer story I was interested in rediscovering. The used copy of
_Space, Space, Space_ I purchased on-line was, amusingly, also
once the property of a public school library.

Jim F.

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