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Of Stegner's Folly   By: (1907-1975)

Of Stegner's Folly by Richard S. Shaver

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Of Stegner's Folly

By Richard S. Shaver

[Transcriber Note: This etext was produced from If Worlds of Science Fiction March 1952. Extensive research did not uncover any evidence that the U.S. copyright on this publication was renewed.]

[Sidenote: When a twenty foot goddess walked out of the jungle, they knew Stegner wasn't kidding. ]

Old Prof Stegner never foresaw the complications his selective anti gravitational field would cause. Knowing the grand old man as I did, I can say that he never intended his "blessing" should become the curse to mankind that it did. And the catastrophe it brought about was certainly beyond range of all prophecy.

Of course, anyone who lived in 1972 and tried to get inside Stegner's weird life circle must agree that you can get too much of a good thing. Even a pumpkin can get too big and that's what happened when the Prof turned on his field things got big; and too darned healthy!

I was there the day Stegner announced the results of ten year's research on his selector. Nearly everyone present had read the sensational articles concerning his work in the feature sections of the big town newspapers. Like the rest, I had a vague idea of what it was about. It seemed the Prof had developed a device that repelled various particles of matter without effecting others. In short, if he turned on his gadget, gravity reversed itself for certain elements, and they went away in a hurry. Like this: he could take oxide of iron, turn on his selective repellor, and the rust rather magically turned to pure iron without the oxygen. Or, he could take a pile of mixed chemicals, turn his control knobs to the elements known to be present in the mixture, and presto! Only certain ones, of his choosing remained. The atoms of the other elements conveniently left the vicinity.

All of which was interesting and extremely useful. The Prof promptly got rich selling patent rights to the device, tuned to certain frequencies which refined heretofore unrefinable ores. His device made an improvement over most known methods of refining, costing far less in operation than the standard and often complicated methods previously in use.

Money gave the old man his opportunity. He fitted out a big research lab in California, not too far from civilization, but secluded enough for secrecy. Then he set about to try his selective repellor on living tissues. His suspicion, that wonderful things could be discovered if he tuned his anti gravitational field to the undesirable elements in the body, was confirmed. Like lead poisoning something no doctor can cure if it is severe. He found that he could cure a case of lead poisoning merely by making the lead go away from there via the field. More wonderful things began to come out of the Stegner laboratory, and he made a lot more money.

Which was all very well indeed, only the Prof couldn't leave well enough alone he had to delve and pry. He had his own theories about disease and its cause, old age, and so on all nuttier than a fruit cake. He was something of a crank on various health foods and diets that left out foods raised with chemical fertilizers. He had an organic garden, a garden where no chemical fertilizer or poison spray was ever used. And after all, who knew better than the Prof who could isolate them in a trice how many poisons could be found accumulating in the average human body, consumed along with perfectly harmless foods during a lifetime?

Anyway, when the Prof called in the press, myself among them, he was really excited. "Gentlemen," he said, "I have solved the greatest medical puzzle of all time. Before me, no medical man knew the cause of old age. I have proved what the deterioration factor is, and I have provided a remedy a sure and immediate remedy! The golden age of mankind is here! Our life span can be greatly extended!"

I looked at Jake Heinz, my cameraman. Jake winked at me, but I didn't respond. I liked the Prof... Continue reading book >>

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