Short Story #91: Another World by J.-H. Rosny Aine

Title:  Another World

Author:  J.-H. Rosny Aine


Damon Knight - A Century of Science FictionThe narrator of this story is a young adult trying to explain his existence.  He was born to country folk (in the Netherlands).  However, he has a purplish hue and eyes that become completely enveloped in black like a beatle's eyes.  He can only survive by imbibing alcohol.  He explains that he also has increased human speed and agility.  Finally, he also explains that he can see this invisible world of beings living alongside and completely ignorant to humans just as humans are ignorant of it.  This more than anything else sets him apart.  As he grows up, he runs into the challenge of acceptance and understanding.  Other children mock him and adults think he is slow--ironically--because he speaks hyper-fast and his hands move too fast to write clearly.  Left to his own devices, he eventually leaves to go to the city (Amsterdam) and finds a doctor.  With the help of the doctor, they begin exploring his abilities.  After a long period of working with the doctor, he reveals the invisible world that he sees and though the doctor has trouble believing him, he chooses to work with him to reveal this world.  Soon after, he finds a wife whom he likes and likes him.  The story ends with him having another child of similar make up to him and hoping for many more. 


A curious story on many levels.  First, it's useful to know this was published in the 1890s in France.  So it preempts many other famous super-human type stories of the 1900s including Philip Wylie's The Gladiator and of course Superman.  What's fascinating is how the character is perceived as slow or dimwitted.  That is he is perceived as disabled when in fact he is hyper-able, so to speak and I find that curious in relation to modern day approaches to people with disabilities wherein they are recognized and valued.  The story lacks any real action and the conclusion feels less than exciting, but considering when the story was written, I think it does some cool things around superhero fiction.  

Short Story #91 out of 365
Rating: 3  (out of 5 stars)
Date Read:  4/1/2014
Source:  A Century of Science Fiction, edited by Damon Knight. Simon & Schuster, 1962.

For a full listing of all the short stories in this series, check out the category 365 Short Stories a year.

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