|The Missing Man|
The Missing Man
KATHERINE MacLean was born January 22, 1925, in Montclair, New Jersey. In high school she won a biology award but turned down the offer of a premed scholarship. She received her B.A. degree from Barnard College and has done graduate study at several universities, most of it in psychology. She has worked as laboratory technician in penicillin research, EKG technician, office manager and payroll bookkeeper, reporter, photographer, detective, editor, book reviewer, public relations and publicity writer, factory quality controller and assembly line worker.
|2||She lectures, she has taught creative and expository writing courses at the University of Connecticut, and currently she teaches writing, English and literature (including science fiction) at the University of Maine. She is a member of Science Fiction Writers of America and the S.F. Research Association.
She also writes too few science fiction stories, about "ideas and insights and new viewpoints and far-out logic trips and flashes of light in the mind .
|3||. . also good melodrama about people trying to avert world catastrophe, rescue their friends or avoid disaster . . . . I don't find it unreal, it's life. Security and boredom are the escape from life and are unreal, not adventure and hazard in a strange universe." Her stories have been widely anthologized and eight of them appeared in a collection, The Diploids and Other Flights of Fancy (1962).
A Katherine MacLean story is an event, and this year's event is "The Missing Man," the Nebula Award-winning novella for 1971.
|4||YOU ARE NOT ALONE announced the sign, flashing neon red in the dark sky. People in the free mixed streets looked up and saw it as they walked back from work. It glowed red behind them in the sky as they entered the gates of their own Kingdoms; their own incorporated small countries and their own laws inside their gates They changed into their own strange costumes, perhaps light armor, and tourneyed, tilting lances against each other, winning ladies.|
|5||Or in another Kingdom, with a higher wall around its enclosed blocks of city, the strange lotteries and rites of the Aztec sadist cult, or the simple poverty and friendliness of the Brotherhood Love Communes. They were not alone.
Nonconformists who could not choose, a suitable conformity lived in the mixed public areas, went to mixing parties, wondering and seeking. Seeking whom? To join with to do what?
|6||Returning from the parties late and alone, they passed the smaller signs flashing red in the store windows.
YOU ARE NOT ALONE
Find your own Kind, Find your own Hobby.
Find your own Mate, Find your own Kingdom.
Use "Harmony" Personality Diagnosis and Matching Service.
Carl Hodges was alone. lie stood in a deserted and ruined section of the city and saw the red glow of the sign reflecting against the foggy air of the sky of New York, blinking on and off like the light of a flickering red flame.
|7||lie knew what the glow said. You are not alone.
He shut his eyes, and tears trickled from under his closed eyelids. Damn the day he had learned to do time track. lie could remember and return to Susanne, he could even see the moment of the surfboard and his girl traveling down the front slope of a
slanted wave front, even see the nose of the board catch again under the ripple, the wave heaving the board tip, up and over, and whipping down edge first like an ax.
|8||He knew how to return for pleasure to past events, but now he could not stop returning. It happened again before his eyes, over and over. Think about something else!
"Crying again, Pops?" said a young insolent voice. A hand pushed two tablets against his mouth. "Here, happy pills. Nothing to cry about. It's a good world."
Obediently Carl Hodges took the pills into his mouth and swallowed.
Soon memory and grief would stop hurting and go away.
|9||Think about something else. Work? No, he should be at work, on the job instead of vacationing, living with runaway children. Think about fun things.
It was possible that he was a prisoner, but. he did not mind. Around him collecting in the dark, stood the crowd of runaway children and teen-agers in strange mixed costumes from many communes across the United States. They had told. him that they had run away from the Kingdoms and odd customs of their parents, hating the Brotherhood, and conformity, and sameness of the adults they had been forced to live with by the law that let incorporated villages educate their own children within the walls.
|10||The teeners had told him that all rules were evil, that all customs were neurotic repetition, that fear was a restriction, that practicality was a restriction, and mercy was a restriction. '
He told himself they were children, in a passing phase of rebellion.
The pill effect began to swirl in a rosy fog of pleasure into his mind. He remembered fun. "Did I tell you," he muttered to the runaway teener gang that held him as a prisoner-guest, "about the last game of Futures I played with Ronny?