Short Story #95: Angel's Egg by Edgar Pangborn

Title:  Angel's Egg

Author:  Edgar Pangborn


Damon Knight - A Century of Science Fiction
This story is an epistolary story, told through letters and journals among several characters.  The story's main focus is on Dr. David Bannerman, a man who is dead at story's start and whose journal we are given access to.  However, Bannerman's journal is handed over to an FBI agent, Cleveland McClaran, who seems to be the only one to survive with others who discover the tale dying within a short period of time and McClaran eventually becoming president.  In his journal, Bannerman explains that one day while following Camilla, an older and disgruntled hen to her nest among some thickets, he discovered an egg that didn't look quite like the others.  When he returns later on, the egg has cracked and there is a miniature woman who has nobs coming out of her back.  He begins to care for the young being and provides food.  Slowly, they find ways of communicating including a form of telepathy and she slowly explains that she is from a far away planet and travel to Earth in that egg like several of her brothers and sisters.  Her civilization is tens of millions f years old and they have worked long and hard to figure out a great deal of things including space travel.  However, they are very deliberate in their use of technologies after having spent millions of years fighting.  The two continue to bond and share of one another and eventually, the angel offers Bannerman a choice.  Choice one is that she will stay with him for all the days of his life that he has left and then go off and do things.  Choice two is that she can preserve all of his memories and experiences so that the end of his body would not mean the end of him and she would take her with him in this form.  He thinks a bit but then decided to take the second option.  Thus begins that last month of his life wherein he slowly has his memories siphoned away until all he can remember is being with the angel.  As he finalizes his plan, he leaves a note for his friend, Dr. Lester Morse who he bequeaths certain items to including a ring that was given to him by the angel.  The journal ends and there is a following Librarian Note as well as a few other written documents, including Morse's statement upon finding Bannerman.


I tend to enjoy epistolary narratives--maybe it's because Frankenstein, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and Dracula are three of my favorite novels.  But it's more that it's an enjoyable device that puts us into characters' minds in realistic ways (when done well).  So this collection of letters quickly pulled me in.  What's most striking in the story is Pangborn's explanation of the world in which the angel is from and the utopian ways in which it operates.  Clearly idealistic but certainly with some food for thought in that despite their superior technology, their implementation of it was more similar to the Amish than to mainstream society.  

Short Story #95 out of 365
Rating: 3 (out of 5 stars)
Date Read:  4/5/2014
Source:  A Century of Science Fiction, edited by Damon Knight. Simon & Schuster, 1962.  Here is a radio version here with some great supplemental material.

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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