Read The Wooden Star by William Tenn Free Online
Book Title: The Wooden Star|
The author of the book: William Tenn
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 515 KB
Edition: Del Rey
Date of issue: July 12th 1981
ISBN 13: 9780345293060
Read full description of the books The Wooden Star:Philip Klass, a.k.a. William Tenn, died on the 10th of February at the age of 89, though for some reason The Guardian waited until today to publish his obituary. He was one of the most accomplished Golden Age SF satirists; if you haven't come across him, this collection is a good place to start.
I think my favourite is "Null-P". The story is set in a post-apocalyptic US: most of the country is still radioactive, and half the children being born have an extra head or some other interestingly non-standard feature. Society is coming apart, when a statistician at the Census Department makes a remarkable discovery. One of the people in his databank, a Mr. George Abnego, is absolutely normal! His height, weight, IQ, eyesight and hearing scores are precisely the national average, to several decimal places. The statistician is so struck by his discovery that he goes and runs further tests on Abnego. It's astonishing. No matter what they measure, he always comes out plumb in the middle of the bell curve.
Abnego becomes a national celebrity, and is soon running for President under the slogan "A Normal Man for a Normal World". He never says anything in his speeches but anodyne inanities, and is elected by a landslide. He goes on to serve another five terms, and the country rapidly follows his example. No more of this pursuit of excellence: we see what that led to. Instead, in every walk of life - job applications, academic preferment, beauty contests - the rules are changed so that the winner is the most average candidate. The story gives several anecdotes about the colourless Abnego. The one I liked best is when he goes to see a production of Romeo and Juliet. After the play's tragic end, he's heard to murmur to an aide: "Ah, better not to have loved at all than to have loved and lost!"
Abnego is succeeded by other completely average leaders, and the human race enters an era of moderate peace and comparative plenty which lasts a quarter of a million years, until it's displaced by a breed of intelligent dogs. The dogs keep the humans around for a while as pets because they're good at throwing sticks, but in the end some bright dog invents an automatic stick-throwing machine, and, except in the most rural backwaters, we finally disappear.
Obviously, this little fable is now completely past its sell-by, and has no possible relevance to the US of today.
Read information about the authorWilliam Tenn is the pseudonym of Philip Klass. He was born in London on May 9, 1920, and immigrated to the United States with his parents before his second birthday and grew up in Brooklyn, New York. After serving in the United States Army as a combat engineer in Europe, he held a job as a technical editor with an Air Force radar and radio laboratory and was employed by Bell Labs.
He began writing in 1945 and has written academic articles, essays, two novels, and more than 60 short stories.
His first story, 'Alexander the Bait' was published in Astounding Science Fiction in 1946. Stories like 'Down Among the Dead Men', 'The Liberation of Earth', and 'The Custodian' quickly established him as a fine, funny, and thoughtful satirist.
Tenn is best-known as a satirist, and by works such as "On Venus Have We Got a Rabbi" and "Of Men and Monsters."
His stories and articles have been widely anthologized, a number of them in best-of -the-year collections. From 1966, he has been a Professor Emeritus of English and Comparative Literature at The Pennsylvania State University, where he taught, among other things, a popular course on science fiction.
In 1999, he was honored as Author Emeritus by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America at their annual Nebula Awards Banquet.
Phil Klass has been married to Fruma since 1957. They live in suburban Pittsburgh. Their daughter, Adina, lives in eastern Pennsylvania.
More information at: http://www.absoluteastronomy.com/topi...
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