|Just about a year ago, two enthusiastic young men came to see
me, and during the course of the visit announced that they were
starting a campaign to make their living in science fiction—and
also to become "names" in the best science fiction magazines.
They planned to collaborate on some material, and write
on their own as well, intending to make the grade both ways.
One of the pair was a well-known science fiction fan, who had
appeared once or twice in the "pro mags," as fans designate
journals like this one. The other was Randall Garrett, who
had previously sold a respectable number of stories to various
magazines in the science fiction and fantasy field.
I shall not try to insult your intelligence by stating that I
told them I knew they could do it; on the contrary, I larded
doubt with sympathy. However, this story, and Robert A.
Madle's "Inside Science Fiction" will show how wrong I was!
by Randall Garrett
Illustrated by EMSH
THE NEUROSURGEON peeled
the thin surgical gloves
from his hands as the
nurse blotted the perspiration
from his forehead for the last
time after the long, grueling
"They're waiting outside for
you, Doctor," she said quietly.
The neurosurgeon nodded
wordlessly. Behind him, three
assistants were still finishing up
the operation, attending to the
little finishing touches that did
not require the brilliant hand of
the specialist. Such things as
suturing up a scalp, and applying
The nurse took the sterile
mask—no longer sterile now—while
the doctor washed and
dried his hands.
"Where are they?" he asked
finally. "Out in the hall, I suppose?"
She nodded. "You'll probably
have to push them out of the way
to get out of Surgery."
HER PREDICTION was almost
perfect. The group of men
in conservative business suits,
wearing conservative ties, and
holding conservative, soft, felt
hats in their hands were standing
just outside the door. Dr.
Mallon glanced at the five of
them, letting his eyes stop on the
face of the tallest. "He may
live," the doctor said briefly.
"You don't sound very optimistic,
Dr. Mallon," said the
Mallon shook his head.
"Frankly, I'm not. He was shot
laterally, just above the right
temple, with what looks to me
like a .357 magnum pistol slug.
It's in there—" He gestured
back toward the room he had
just left. "—you can have it, if
you want. It passed completely
through the brain, lodging on
the other side of the head, just
inside the skull. What kept him
alive, I'll never know, but I can
guarantee that he might as well
be dead; it was a rather nasty
way to lobotomize a man, but it
was effective, I can assure you."
The Federal agent frowned
puzzledly. "Lobotomized? Like
those operations they do on psychotics?"
"Similar," said Mallon. "But
no psychotic was ever butchered
up like this; and what I had to
do to him to save his life didn't
The men looked at each other,
then the big one said: "I'm sure
you did the best you could, Dr.
The neurosurgeon rubbed the
back of his hand across his forehead
and looked steadily into the
eyes of the big man.
"You wanted him alive," he
said slowly, "and I have a duty
to save life. But frankly, I
think we'll all eventually wish
we had the common human decency
to let Paul Wendell die.
Excuse me, gentlemen; I don't
feel well." He turned abruptly
and strode off down the hall.
ONE OF the men in the conservative
suits said: "Louis
Pasteur lived through most of
his life with only half a brain
and he never even knew it,
"Yeah. Maybe," said the big
man. "But I don't know whether
to hope he does or hope he
doesn't." He used his right
thumbnail to pick a bit of microscopic
dust from beneath his left
index finger, studying the operation
without actually seeing it.
"Meanwhile, we've got to decide
what to do about the rest of
those screwballs. Wendell was
the only sane one, and therefore
the most dangerous—but the
rest of them aren't what you'd
call safe, either."
The others nodded in a chorus
of silent agreement.
Nocturne—Tempo di valse
"NOW WHAT the hell's the
matter with me?"
thought Paul Wendell. He could
feel nothing. Absolutely nothing:
No taste, no sight, no hearing,
no anything. "Am I
breathing?" He couldn't feel any
breathing. Nor, for that matter,
could he feel heat, nor cold, nor
"Am I dead? No. At least, I
don't feel dead. Who am I?
What am I?" No answer. Cogito,
ergo sum. What did that mean?
There was something quite definitely
wrong, but he couldn't
quite tell what it was. Ideas
seemed to come from nowhere;
fragments of concepts that
seemed to have no referents.
What did that mean? What is a
referent? A concept? He felt he
knew intuitively what they
meant, but what use they were
he didn't know.
There was something wrong,
and he had to find out what it
was. And he had to find out
through the only method of investigation
left open to him.
So he thought about it.
Sonata—Allegro con Brio
THE PRESIDENT of the United
States finished reading the
sheaf of papers before him, laid
them neatly to one side, and
looked up at the big man seated
across the desk from him.
"Is this everything, Frank?"
"That's everything, Mr. President;
everything we know.
We've got eight men locked up
in St. Elizabeth's, all of them absolutely
psychotic, and one human
vegetable named Paul
Wendell. We can't get anything
out of them."
The President leaned back in
his chair. "I really can't quite understand
it. Extra-sensory perception—why
should it drive
men insane? Wendell's papers
don't say enough. He claims it
can be mathematically worked
out—that he did work it out—but
we don't have any proof of
The man named Frank scowled.
"Wasn't that demonstration
of his proof enough?"
A small, graying, intelligent-faced
man who had been sitting
silently, listening to the conversation,
spoke at last. "Mr. President,
I'm afraid I still don't
completely understand the problem.
If we could go over it, and
get it straightened out—" He
left the sentence hanging expectantly.
"Certainly. This Paul Wendell
is a—well, he called himself a
psionic mathematician. Actually,
he had quite a respectable reputation
in the mathematical field.
He did very important work in
cybernetic theory, but he dropped
it several years ago—said
that the human mind couldn't
be worked at from a mechanistic
angle. He studied various
branches of psychology, and
eventually dropped them all. He
built several of those queer psionic
and something he called a hexer.
He's done a lot of different
"Sounds like he was unable
to make up his mind," said the
THE PRESIDENT shook his
head firmly. "Not at all. He
did new, creative work in every
one of the fields he touched. He
was considered something of a
mystic, but not a crackpot, or a
"But, anyhow, the point is that
he evidently found what he'd
been looking for for years. He
asked for an appointment with
me; I okayed the request because
of his reputation. He would only
tell me that he'd stumbled across
something that was vital to national
defense and the future of
mankind; but I felt that, in view
of the work he had done, he was
entitled to a hearing."
"And he proved to you, beyond
any doubt, that he had
this power?" the small man
Frank shifted his big body
uneasily in his chair. "He certainly
did, Mr. Secretary."
The President nodded. "I
know it might not sound too impressive
when heard second-hand,
but Paul Wendell could
tell me more of what was going
on in the world than our Central
Intelligence agents have been
able to dig up in twenty years.
And he claimed he could teach
the trick to anyone.
"I told him I'd think it over.
Naturally, my first step was to
make sure that he was followed
twenty-four hours a day. A man
with information like that simply
could not be allowed to fall
into enemy hands." The President
scowled, as though angry
with himself. "I'm sorry to say
that I didn't realize the full
potentialities of what he had
said for several days—not until
I got Frank's first report."
"YOU COULD hardly be expected
to, Mr. President,"
Frank said. "After all,
something like that is pretty
"I think I follow you," said
the Secretary. "You found he
was already teaching this trick to
The President glanced at the
FBI man. Frank said: "That's
right; he was holding meetings—classes,
I suppose you'd call
them—twice a week. There
were eight men who came regularly."
"That's when I gave the order
to have them all picked up. Can
you imagine what would happen
if everybody could be taught to
use this ability? Or even a small
"They'd rule the world,"
said the Secretary softly.
The President shrugged that
off. "That's a small item, really.
The point is that nothing would
be hidden from anyone.
"The way we play the Game
of Life today is similar to playing
poker. We keep a straight
face and play the cards tight to
our chest. But what would happen
if everyone could see everyone
else's cards? It would cease
to be a game of strategy, and become
a game of pure chance.
"WE'D HAVE to start playing
Life another way. It
would be like chess, where you
can see the opponent's every
move. But in all human history
there has never been a social analogue
for chess. That's why Paul
Wendell and his group had to
be stopped—for a while at
"But what could you have
done with them?" asked the Secretary.
"Imprison them summarily?
Have them shot? What
would you have done?"
The President's face became
graver than ever. "I had not yet
made that decision. Thank
Heaven, it has been taken out of
"One of his own men shot
"That's right," said the big
FBI man. "We went into his
apartment an instant too late.
We found eight madmen and a
near-corpse. We're not sure what
happened, and we're not sure we
want to know. Anything that can
drive eight reasonably stable men
off the deep end in less than an
hour is nothing to meddle
"I wonder what went wrong?"
asked the Secretary of no one in
PAUL WENDELL, too, was
wondering what went
Slowly, over a period of immeasurable
time, memory seeped
back into him. Bits of
memory, here and there, crept in
from nowhere, sometimes to be
lost again, sometimes to remain.
Once he found himself mentally
humming an odd, rather funeral
Now, though you'd have said that the head was dead,
For its owner dead was he,
It stood on its neck with a smile well-bred,
And bowed three times to me.
It was none of your impudent, off-hand nods....
Wendell stopped and wondered
what the devil seemed so
important about the song.
Slowly, slowly, memory returned.
When he suddenly realized,
with crashing finality, where he
was and what had happened to
him, Paul Wendell went violently
insane. Or he would have,
if he could have become violent.
"OPEN YOUR mouth, Paul,"
said the pretty nurse. The
hulking mass of not-quite-human
gazed at her with vacuous eyes
and opened its mouth. Dexterously,
she spooned a mouthful of
baby food into it. "Now swallow
it, Paul. That's it. Now another."
"In pretty bad shape, isn't
Nurse Peters turned to look
at the man who had walked up
behind her. It was Dr. Benwick,
the new interne.
"He's worthless to himself
and anyone else," she said. "It's
a shame, too; he'd be rather nice
looking if there were any personality
behind that face." She
shoveled another spoonful of
mashed asparagus into the gaping
mouth. "Now swallow it,
"How long has he been here?"
Benwick asked, eyeing the scars
that showed through the dark
hair on the patient's head.
"Nearly six years," Miss
"Hmmh! But they outlawed
lobotomies back in the sixties."
"Open your mouth, Paul."
Then, to Benwick: "This was an
accident. Bullet in the head. You
can see the scar on the other side
of his head."
THE DOCTOR moved around to
look at the left temple.
"Doesn't leave much of a human
being, does it?"
"It doesn't even leave much
of an animal," Miss Peters said.
"He's alive, but that's the best
you can say for him. (Now swallow,
Paul. That's it.) Even an
ameba can find food for itself."
"Yeah. Even a single cell is
better off than he is. Chop out a
man's forebrain and he's nothing.
It's a case of the whole
being less than the sum of its
"I'm glad they outlawed the
operation on mental patients,"
Miss Peters said, with a note of
disgust in her voice.
Dr. Benwick said: "It's worse
than it looks. Do you know why
the anti-lobotomists managed to
get the bill passed?"
"Let's drink some milk now,
Paul. No, Doctor; I was only a
little girl at that time."
"It was a matter of electro-encephalographic
showed that there was electrical
activity in the prefrontal lobes
even after the nerves had been
severed, which could mean a lot
of things; but the A-L supporters
said that it indicated that the
forebrain was still capable of
Miss Peters looked a little ill.
"Why—that's horrible! I wish
you'd never told me." She looked
at the lump of vegetablized human
sitting placidly at the table.
"Do you suppose he's actually
thinking, somewhere, deep inside?"
"Oh, I doubt it," Benwick
said hastily. "There's probably
no real self-awareness, none at
all. There couldn't be."
"I suppose not," Miss Peters
said, "but it's not pleasant to
"That's why they outlawed
it," said Benwick.
ma non poco
INSANITY IS a retreat from reality,
an escape within the
mind from the reality outside the
mind. But what if there is no detectable
reality outside the mind?
What is there to escape from?
Suicide—death in any form—is
an escape from life. But if
death does not come, and can
not be self-inflicted, what then?
And when the pressure of
nothingness becomes too great to
bear, it becomes necessary to escape;
a man under great enough
pressure will take the easy way
out. But if there is no easy way?
Why, then a man must take the
For Paul Wendell, there was
no escape from his dark, senseless
Gehenna by way of death,
and even insanity offered no retreat;
insanity in itself is senseless,
and senselessness was what
he was trying to flee. The only
insanity possible was the psychosis
of regression, a fleeing
into the past, into the crystallized,
unchanging world of
So Paul Wendell explored his
past, every year, every hour,
every second of it, searching to
recall and savor every bit of sensation
he had ever experienced.
He tasted and smelled and
touched and heard and analyzed
each of them minutely. He
searched through his own subjective
thought processes, analyzing,
checking and correlating
Know thyself. Time and time
again, Wendell retreated from
his own memories in confusion,
or shame, or fear. But there was
no retreat from himself, and
eventually he had to go back and
He had plenty of time—all
the time in the world. How can
subjective time be measured
when there is no objective
EVENTUALLY, there came the
time when there was nothing
left to look at; nothing left
to see; nothing to check and remember;
nothing that he had
not gone over in every detail.
Again, boredom began to creep
in. It was not the boredom of
nothingness, but the boredom of
the familiar. Imagination? What
could he imagine, except combinations
and permutations of
his own memories? He didn't
know—perhaps there might be
more to it than that.
So he exercised his imagination.
With a wealth of material
to draw upon, he would build
himself worlds where he could
move around, walk, talk, and
make love, eat, drink and feel
the caress of sunshine and wind.
It was while he was engaged
in this project that he touched
another mind. He touched it,
fused for a blinding second, and
bounced away. He ran gibbering
up and down the corridors of his
own memory, mentally reeling
from the shock of—identification!
WHO WAS he? Paul Wendell?
Yes, he knew with incontrovertible
certainty that he was
Paul Wendell. But he also knew,
with almost equal certainty, that
he was Captain Sir Richard
Francis Burton. He was living—had
lived—in the latter half
of the nineteenth century. But he
knew nothing of the Captain
other than the certainty of identity;
nothing else of that blinding
Again he scoured his memory—Paul
and rechecking the
area just before that semi-fatal
bullet had crashed through his
And finally, at long last, he
knew with certainty where his
calculations had gone astray. He
knew positively why eight men
had gone insane.
Then he went again in search
of other minds, and this time he
knew he would not bounce.
Quasi Una Fantasia
Poco Andante Pianissimo
AN OLD MAN sat quietly in his
lawnchair, puffing contentedly
on an expensive briar pipe
and making corrections with a
fountain pen on a thick sheaf of
typewritten manuscript. Around
him stretched an expanse of
green lawn, dotted here and
there with squat cycads that
looked like overgrown pineapples;
in the distance, screening
the big house from the road,
stood a row of stately palms,
their fronds stirring lightly in
the faint, warm California
The old man raised his head
as a car pulled into the curving
driveway. The warm hum of the
turboelectric engine stopped, and
a man climbed out of the vehicle.
He walked with easy
strides across the grass to where
the elderly gentleman sat. He
was lithe, of indeterminate age,
but with a look of great determination.
There was something
in his face that made the old
man vaguely uneasy—not with
fear but with a sense of deep respect.
"What can I do for you, sir?"
"I have some news for you,
Mr. President," the younger one
The old man smiled wryly. "I
haven't been President for fourteen
years. Most people call me
'Senator' or just plain 'Mister'."
THE YOUNGER man smiled
back. "Very well, Senator.
My name is Camberton, James
Camberton. I brought some information
that may possibly relieve
your mind—or, again, it
"You sound ominous, Mr.
Camberton. I hope you'll remember
that I've been retired from
the political field for nearly five
years. What is this shattering
"Paul Wendell's body was
The Senator looked blank for
a second, then recognition came
into his face. "Wendell, eh?
After all this time. Poor chap;
he'd have been better off if he'd
died twenty years ago." Then he
paused and looked up. "But just
who are you, Mr. Camberton?
And what makes you think I
would be particularly interested
in Paul Wendell?"
"Mr. Wendell wants to tell
you that he is very grateful to
you for having saved his life,
Senator. If it hadn't been for
your orders, he would have been
left to die."
The Senator felt strangely
calm, although he knew he
should feel shock. "That's ridiculous,
sir! Mr. Wendell's brain
was hopelessly damaged; he
never recovered his sanity or
control of his body. I know; I
used to drop over to see him
occasionally, until I finally realized
that I was only making myself
feel worse and doing him no
"Yes, sir. And Mr. Wendell
wants you to know how much
he appreciated those visits."
THE SENATOR grew red.
"What the devil are you
talking about? I just said that
Wendell couldn't talk. How
could he have said anything to
you? What do you know about
"I never said he spoke to me,
Senator; he didn't. And as to
what I know of this affair, evidently
you don't remember my
name. James Camberton."
The Senator frowned. "The
name is familiar, but—" Then
his eyes went wide. "Camberton!
You were one of the eight men
who—Why, you're the man
who shot Wendell!"
Camberton pulled up an
empty lawnchair and sat down.
"That's right, Senator; but
there's nothing to be afraid of.
Would you like to hear about
"I suppose I must." The old
man's voice was so low that it
was scarcely audible. "Tell me—were
the other seven released,
too? Have—have you all regained
your sanity? Do you remember—"
"Do we remember the extra-sensory
perception formula? Yes,
we do; all eight of us remember
it well. It was based on faulty
premises, and incomplete, of
course; but in its own way it was
workable enough. We have something
much better now."
The old man shook his head
slowly. "I failed, then. Such an
idea is as fatal to society as we
know it as a virus plague. I
tried to keep you men quarantined,
but I failed. After all
those years of insanity, now the
chess game begins; the poker
game is over."
"It's worse than that," Camberton
said, chuckling softly.
"Or, actually, it's much better."
"I don't understand; explain
it to me. I'm an old man, and I
may not live to see my world
collapse. I hope I don't."
Camberton said: "I'll try to
explain in words, Senator.
They're inadequate, but a fuller
explanation will come later."
And he launched into the
story of the two-decade search of
"TELEPATHY? Time travel?"
After three hours of listening,
the ex-President was still
not sure he understood.
"Think of it this way," Camberton
said. "Think of the mind
at any given instant as being surrounded
by a shield—a shield
of privacy—a shield which you,
yourself have erected, though
unconsciously. It's a perfect insulator
against telepathic prying
by others. You feel you have to
have it in order to retain your
privacy—your sense of identity,
even. But here's the kicker: even
though no one else can get in,
you can't get out!
"You can call this shield 'self-consciousness'—perhaps
is a better word. Everyone has it,
to some degree; no telepathic
thought can break through it.
Occasionally, some people will
relax it for a fraction of a second,
but the instant they receive something,
the barrier goes up again."
"Then how is telepathy possible?
How can you go through
it?" The Senator looked puzzled
as he thoughtfully tamped tobacco
into his briar.
"You don't go through it; you
go around it."
"NOW WAIT a minute; that
sounds like some of those
fourth dimension stories I've
read. I recall that when I was
younger, I read a murder mystery—something
about a morgue, I
think. At any rate, the murder
was committed inside a locked
room; no one could possibly
have gotten in or out. One of
the characters suggested that the
murderer traveled through
the fourth dimension in order to
get at the victim. He didn't go
through the walls; he went
around them." The Senator
puffed a match flame into the
bowl of his pipe, his eyes on
the younger man. "Is that what
you're driving at?"
"Exactly," agreed Camberton.
"The fourth dimension. Time.
You must go back in time to an
instant when that wall did not
exist. An infant has no shame,
no modesty, no shield against
the world. You must travel back
down your own four-dimensional
tube of memory in order to get
outside it, and to do that, you
have to know your own mind
completely, and you must be
sure you know it.
"For only if you know your
own mind can you communicate
with another mind. Because, at
the 'instant' of contact, you become
that person; you must enter
his own memory at the
beginning and go up the hyper-tube.
You will have all his memories,
his hopes, his fears, his
sense of identity. Unless you
know—beyond any trace of
doubt—who you are, the result
THE SENATOR puffed his pipe
for a moment, then shook
his head. "It sounds like Oriental
mysticism to me. If you can
travel in time, you'd be able to
change the past."
"Not at all," Camberton said;
"that's like saying that if you
read a book, the author's words
"Time isn't like that. Look,
suppose you had a long trough
filled with supercooled water. At
one end, you drop in a piece of
ice. Immediately the water begins
to freeze; the crystallization
front moves toward the other
end of the trough. Behind that
front, there is ice—frozen, immovable,
of it there is water—fluid, mobile,
"The instant we call 'the present'
is like that crystallization
front. The past is unchangeable;
the future is flexible. But they
"I see—at least, I think I
do. And you can do all this?"
"Not yet," said Camberton;
"not completely. My mind isn't
as strong as Wendell's, nor as
capable. I'm not the—shall we
say—the superman he is; perhaps
I never will be. But I'm
learning—I'm learning. After
all, it took Paul twenty years to
do the trick under the most favorable
"I see." The Senator smoked
his pipe in silence for a long
time. Camberton lit a cigaret and
said nothing. After a time, the
Senator took the briar from his
mouth and began to tap the bowl
gently on the heel of his palm.
"Mr. Camberton, why do you
tell me all this? I still have influence
with the Senate; the present
President is a protégé of mine.
It wouldn't be too difficult to get
you men—ah—put away
again. I have no desire to see
our society ruined, our world destroyed.
Why do you tell me?"
CAMBERTON smiled apologetically.
"I'm afraid you might
find it a little difficult to put us
away again, sir; but that's not the
point. You see, we need you. We
have no desire to destroy our
present culture until we have designed
a better one to replace it.
"You are one of the greatest
living statesmen, Senator; you
have a wealth of knowledge and
ability that can never be replaced;
knowledge and ability
that will help us to design a culture
and a civilization that will
be as far above this one as this
one is above the wolf pack. We
want you to come in with us,
help us; we want you to be one
"I? I'm an old man, Mr. Camberton.
I will be dead before this
civilization falls; how can I help
build a new one? And how could
I, at my age, be expected to learn
"Paul Wendell says you can.
He says you have one of the
strongest minds now existing."
The Senator put his pipe in
his jacket pocket. "You know,
Camberton, you keep referring
to Wendell in the present tense.
I thought you said he was dead."
Again Camberton gave him
the odd smile. "I didn't say that,
Senator; I said they buried his
body. That's quite a different
thing. You see, before the poor,
useless hulk that held his blasted
brain died, Paul gave the eight
of us his memories; he gave us
himself. The mind is not the
brain, Senator; we don't know
what it is yet, but we do know
what it isn't. Paul's poor, damaged
brain is dead, but his memories,
his thought processes, the
very essence of all that was Paul
Wendell is still very much with
"Do you begin to see now
why we want you to come in
with us? There are nine of us
now, but we need the tenth—you.
Will you come?"
"I—I'll have to think it
over," the old statesman said in
a voice that had a faint quaver.
"I'll have to think it over."
But they both knew what his
answer would be.
This etext was produced from Future Science Fiction No. 30, 1956.
Extensive research did not uncover any evidence that the
U.S. copyright on this publication was renewed.