Tuesday, March 8, 2016

"So I Decided, If I Was Going to Do the Thing At All, I'd Do It Up Right, and Kill Her Properly!"

"The Crime Therapist."
By Marion Zimmer Bradley (1930-99).
First appearance: Future Science Fiction, October 1954.
Collected in The Dark Intruder & Other Stories (1972, Ace Double).
Short story (8 pages).
Online at SFFAudio HERE (PDF).
"The trouble with substitutional expression is that the subject knows he's substituting . . ."
If, in the "streamlined, crime-less world" of 2467, children are compulsorily required to undergo social conditioning, then the impulse to commit murder should be practically unheard of—so why is Frank Colby fighting the urge to kill his wife?
"You must try to be brave. You see, he decided on the murder therapy. I suppose you have no objection to being murdered?"
"None whatever, but—oh, that's so drastic!"  . . .
Principal characters:
~ Dr. Rhoum (Ex-T.), M.D., Licensed Crime Therapist: He has the cure—even if it means murder.
~ Frank Colby: There's only one thing separating him from that girl at the Sky Harbor 
Hotel—a victim.
~ Mrs. Helen Colby: She has a right to be afraid.
~ Demella and Hamilda: Dr. Rhoum's otherworldly (in more ways than one) assistants.
Technoprolepsis: According to our author, the 25th century has its good points:
. . . here on a modern Earth, where you could have shrimp in California and twenty minutes later, for a fifty-cent traffic-token, have coffee in Boston; where two weeks passage on a dionite-drive spaceship would take you to Theta Centaurus, and two months to the fourth planet of Antares. Here, where children were carefully conditioned for social adjustment, and crime simply was not.  . . .
- Dr. Rhoum is a "Rigellian," presumably from a planet orbiting Rigel (which might be comprised of three or even four stars); see HERE for how authors have used Rigel in their fiction and HERE for what's now known about it. Aldebaran also gets a mention; see HERE and HERE for more.
- Other data sources: Wikipedia HERE - SFE HERE - FictionMags HERE - ISFDb HERE - Project Gutenberg HERE.
- Another science fiction story concerned with future crime is discussed HERE.
- Controversy has plagued Bradley's reputation in the years after her death, as denoted in The Guardian article HERE.

The bottom line: "There is only one cure for a murderer."
— Dr. Rhoum

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