Saturday, April 1, 2017

"You Stand Before This Court of Truth-Probity, Accused of Registering the Emotion of Hate"

"The 13th Juror."
By Leslie Waltham (?-?).
First appearance: Startling Stories, Summer 1955.
Short short story (9 pages).
Online at (HERE).
(Note: Faded text; use the "Zoom In" function to clarify.)
(Parental warning: Strong language.)
"From a ship in space he spied on his wife—and saw her in the arms of another man. . . ."
In the great equation of life, scientific innovation is one variable, but human nature is a constant. It's the year 2375, and John Hastings, a scientific innovator, stands accused of a capital crime; it seems as if only divine intervention can save him—which, in John's case, just might be some unexpected help from Saint Albert of Emcee Square.

~ John Hastings, spaceship captain:
  "You're my wife, Mary. I love every bit of you. But Lathrop keeps bobbing up."
~ Mary Hastings:
  "What I felt for him four or five years ago was that young thing everyone goes through."
~ The bodiless Questioner:
  ". . . A hatred so violent, that had we permitted you to carry out your anticipated actions, it would have resulted in the murder of one Mary Hastings, your wife. Do you understand the charge?"
~ Fred Kitson, spacecraft mechanic:
  "I'm afraid I wasn't subjected to that facet of knowledge indoctrination, sir."
~ Angus Vortler, psychosurgeon:
  "Just like that, he wants it. In two or three words. Where I need books, where Freud took volumes, he wants it in two or three words."
~ The Thirteenth Juror:
  "John Hastings viewed his wife on Earth from one of the planets of Alpha Centauri."
~ Prof. A. I. Schule, S.E.D.:
  "In the absence of actual crime, any emotion which might have precipitated crime was considered unlawful, and men were tried for too much anger, or too little pity. The only purpose of a trial was to ascertain whether sufficient provocation could be established to warrant a given reaction. If the cause, or the incident, justified the emotional response, 
the defendant was exculpated."
Typo: "Three night ago"

- Information about Leslie Waltham is scant, to say the least, and all we know is in this post; the FictionMags listing credits Waltham with just four stories, all SFF:

  (1) "Imperfection," Startling Stories, June 1953
         - Reprinted in Startling Stories (U.K.), Number 15, 1953
  (2) "Sibling," Thrilling Wonder Stories, August 1953
        - Reprinted in Treasury of Great Science Fiction Stories, Number 1 (1964)
  (3) "The 13th Juror," Startling Stories, Summer 1955 (above)
  (4) "I Like a Happy Ending," Startling Stories, Fall 1955

- It's a coincidence, of course, that Albert Einstein (1879-1955) passed away at about the same time this story was published.

The bottom line:
   O, beware, my lord, of jealousy!
   It is the green-eyed monster, which doth mock
   The meat it feeds on. That cuckold lives in bliss
   Who, certain of his fate, loves not his wronger;
   But O, what damned minutes tells he o'er
   Who dotes, yet doubts, suspects, yet strongly loves!
     — Iago

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