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The Genius   By:

The Genius by Con Pederson

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By Con Pederson

Illustrated by Paul Orban

[Transcriber Note: This etext was produced from IF Worlds of Science Fiction May 1954. Extensive research did not uncover any evidence that the U.S. copyright on this publication was renewed.]

[Sidenote: Sethos was a great artist, a talented man, quite possibly the most famous man of his time and world. But, alas! there were other worlds. And is not the grass always greener...? ]

Sethos entered the park. Brown autumn leaves crumpled sharply beneath his feet, the green grass sank. The sun was nearly gone, and the last of the children passed him, chattering as they faded into the twilight. Only one other person remained in the park, and she was waiting for Sethos.

"Ela," he said. "Have you been here long?"

She touched his cheek with hers in greeting.

"Not at all. I'm in no hurry." She handed him a cigarette as they walked together, then lit her own and breathed deeply of the scented fumes. "Nothing special about Matya's parties unless she has that intriguing man there again. What's his name? You know "

"You must mean Andian, the sculptor. The man who built North Square, to hear him talk. What about him?"

Ela laughed. "He'd never heard of my fluid porcelain. Isn't that silly? After everyone in West has been overwhelmed with the color effects, he turns up, a perfect innocent. I showed him pliables."

Smiling, Sethos recalled it was Ela's enthusiasm that had first attracted him, as it had most of the males in their clique. Then too, she was beautiful, with startling gold hair and a delicate round face that always aroused flattery. Tonight he felt especially aware of her beside him, and the quick beat of her sandals on the pavement.

The lights of Matya's hillhouse gleamed before them, enticing all who wandered through West Park this evening. The party had started, as parties always did, at that unknown instant shortly before the first guest's arrival. It was thriving now, for the colors behind the contoured glass facade throbbed as though underwater, and people sat along the terraced hillside, talking and inhaling the elegant smoke from smoldering chalices that stood around the entrance.

They climbed the flagstone path toward the low, pale yellow building. Luxuriant plants grew thick along the walls, creating a jungle that extended even to the inner rooms of the house.

"Sethos, my friend!" said an unsteady voice.

The old man was seated in shadow by the house, a glass of sparkling liquor on the arm of his chair. Against the green background of giant plants, his frail, pink face resembled a huge bud that would open when daylight came.

"How are you, Paton?" Sethos asked warmly. "I remember you from somewhere in East. It must be years.... Weren't you gardening with Ana? Of course developing a perfect Lyocanthia. What a welcome sight you are among these woodcutters!"

"You're a fellow greensman now, they say," beamed Paton happily, seizing his glass and leaning forward. "Such an honor to us. You work with succulents right?"

Sethos smiled. He watched Ela disappear into the interior of the sprawling hillhouse, heard her distant laugh become part of the machinery of voices. People drifted to and fro across the broad lawns.

"Yes," answered Sethos, drawing up a chair. "Succulents are my latest joy. One must specialize. I like to work with growing things, yet I'd feel like a mechanoid if I got involved in crystal sculpture, like my charming Ela there."

"Perhaps but who else gets such color , starts so many new directions as she? My flowers blush before her crystals." Paton's glass was empty, and with an automatic gesture, Sethos refilled it from a tall flask standing nearby, and poured one for himself.

"Speaking of mechanoids," Paton continued genially, "I had a most stimulating conversation with Mr. First himself a few days ago. He came to see me."

Sethos blinked. That was unusual mechanoids seldom mingled with humans, especially those of the primary levels... Continue reading book >>

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