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The Day of the Boomer Dukes   By: (1919-)

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Just as medicine is not a science, but rather an art a device, practised in a scientific manner, in its best manifestations time travel stories are not science fiction. Time travel, however, has become acceptable to science fiction readers as a traditional device in stories than are otherwise admissible in the genre. Here, Frederik Pohl employs it to portray the amusingly catastrophic meeting of three societies.

THE DAY OF THE BOOMER DUKES

by Frederik Pohl

Illustrated by EMSH

[Illustration: There was a silvery aura around the kid ... the cops' guns hit him ... but he didn't notice....]

I

Foraminifera 9

Paptaste udderly, semped sempsemp dezhavoo, qued schmerz Excuse me. I mean to say that it was like an endless diet of days, boring, tedious....

No, it loses too much in the translation. Explete my reasons, I say. Do my reasons matter? No, not to you, for you are troglodytes, knowing nothing of causes, understanding only acts. Acts and facts, I will give you acts and facts.

First you must know how I am called. My "name" is Foraminifera 9 Hart Bailey's Beam, and I am of adequate age and size. (If you doubt this, I am prepared to fight.) Once the the tediety of life, as you might say, had made itself clear to me, there were, of course, only two alternatives. I do not like to die, so that possibility was out; and the remaining alternative was flight.

Naturally, the necessary machinery was available to me. I arrogated a small viewing machine, and scanned the centuries of the past in the hope that a sanctuary might reveal itself to my aching eyes. Kwel tediety that was! Back, back I went through the ages. Back to the Century of the Dog, back to the Age of the Crippled Men. I found no time better than my own. Back and back I peered, back as far as the Numbered Years. The Twenty Eighth Century was boredom unendurable, the Twenty Sixth a morass of dullness. Twenty Fifth, Twenty Fourth wherever I looked, tediety was what I found.

I snapped off the machine and considered. Put the problem thus: Was there in all of the pages of history no age in which a 9 Hart Bailey's Beam might find adventure and excitement? There had to be! It was not possible, I told myself, despairing, that from the dawn of the dreaming primates until my own time there was no era at all in which I could be happy? Yes, I suppose happiness is what I was looking for. But where was it? In my viewer, I had fifty centuries or more to look back upon. And that was, I decreed, the trouble; I could spend my life staring into the viewer, and yet never discover the time that was right for me. There were simply too many eras to choose from. It was like an enormous library in which there must, there had to be, contained the one fact I was looking for that, lacking an index, I might wear my life away and never find.

" Index! "

I said the word aloud! For, to be sure, it was the answer. I had the freedom of the Learning Lodge, and the index in the reading room could easily find for me just what I wanted.

Splendid, splendid! I almost felt cheerful. I quickly returned the viewer I had been using to the keeper, and received my deposit back. I hurried to the Learning Lodge and fed my specifications into the index, as follows, that is to say: Find me a time in recent past where there is adventure and excitement, where there is a secret, colorful band of desperadoes with whom I can ally myself. I then added two specifications second, that it should be before the time of the high radiation levels; and first, that it should be after the discovery of anesthesia, in case of accident and retired to a desk in the reading room to await results... Continue reading book >>




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