Sunday, December 11, 2011

Short Story Sunday - The Good Doctor Rebounds

Last Sunday's short story offering was a rare disappointment for me.  Isaac Asimov's "Button, Button" was one of his few stories that I did not care for.  This week the Good Doctor bounces back with two fun stories.


"The Monkey's Finger" by Isaac Asimov

First Publication:  Startling Stories, February 1953


Another good Asimov short story appeared behind this classic Ed Emshwiller cover.  It is loosely based on a discussion between the Good Doctor and editor Horace Gold.


A science fiction writer crafts what he thinks is a good story.  His editor disagrees.  In an effort to change the editor's mind, he takes him to a scientist who has developed a way of determining if a story is well written.  It involves a monkey, surgery, and a typewriter.  To tell any more of the plot would reveal too much.  The main theme deals with the difference between technically correct writing and writing with emotion.  I found this to be another very entertaining story.  It is definitely worth reading.


Among the other authors appearing in this issue were Fletcher Pratt, Philip Jose Farmer, and Damon Knight.  The letter column featured many names that are well known to fans of classic science fiction (John Brunner, Poul Anderson, and Richard E. Geis).





"Everest" by Isaac Asimov

First Publication:  Universe Science Fiction, December 1953


Asimov tells an interesting tale about the background of this story in his "Buy Jupiter and Other Stories" collection.  According to him, editor Bea Mahaffey was one of the best looking women that he ever met.  He stopped in to see her at her office one day.  Mahaffey asked why he didn't bring a story for her.  Asimov pulled up a chair, grabbed a typewriter and wrote this one while sitting in her office.


The story is a fun short story about why no one had been able to climb Mount Everest.  She liked it and bought it on the spot.  He took her out to eat with the money he made from the sale. Despite his best efforts, that was the end of the night.


The irony of it was that this took place in February 1953.  Later that year, before the story was published, the first team managed to climb the mountain and disproved Asimov's story.


Other writers in this issue included Otto Binder, Poul Anderson, Gordon Dickson, and L. Sprague De Camp.

1 comment:

Carl V. said...

Glad your latest experience with Asimov was better. I do love that cover on that magazine.