Monday, December 16, 2019

A Sylvia Jacobs Duet

LIKE RUTH CHESSMAN last week, today's author, Sylvia Jacobs, didn't generate much short fiction copy in her lifetime, basically just enough to count on both hands (data from 
The FictionMags Index HERE):

 (1) "God to the Ants," Collier’s, March 10, 1945
 (2) "A Stitch in Time," Astounding, April 1951
 (3) "The Pilot and the Bushman," Galaxy, August 1951 (below)
 (4) "Up the Mountain or Down," Universe Science Fiction, September 1953
 (5) "Old Purply-Puss," Vortex Science Fiction (Volume 1, Number 1), 1953
 (6) "The Sportsmen," Vortex Science Fiction (Volume 1, Number 2), 1953
 (7) "Hold That Helium!", Astounding, March 1955
 (8) [letter from San Pedro, CA], Astounding, August 1958
 (9) "Time Payment," IF, July 1960 (below)
 (10) "Young Man from Elsewhen," IF, March 1961
 (11) "Slave to Man," Galaxy, April 1969.


   "There's not one single, solitary Earth invention or service left to advertise!"

"The Pilot and the Bushman."
By Sylvia Jacobs (?-?).

Illustrations by David Stone (HERE).
First appearance: Galaxy, August 1951.

Reprints page (HERE).
Novelette (24 pages).
Online at Project Gutenberg (HERE).
     "Do you realize what I'm offering you? In return for ceasing this tourist promotion, I'm offering you the invention that obsolesces all others . . ."

Earth's first contact with aliens from outer space is usually depicted in fiction, movies, and TV as being fraught with danger. Will the aliens destroy our cities, kill us all, and then serve us up as lunch? In today's story, it's true that there's a strong element of peril involved in our first contact with galactic aliens in the person of a go-getting Madison Avenue maven named Jerry Jergins—but the danger, dear friends, is all on the other side . . .

Characters (in order of appearance):
~ The Ambassador from Outer Space:

  ". . . sprang to his feet, taking Jerry's extended hand in a firm, warm grasp. Jerry had been prepared for almost anything—a scholarly brontosaurus, perhaps, or an educated squid or giant caterpillar with telepathic powers. But . . ."
~ Jerry Jergins, PR specialist:
  "You seem to have devoted a lot of study to the larceny in the Earthman's soul."
~ The blonde:
  "Don't you feel a little bit sorry for a girl like me, with nothing but perfectly civilized men to go home to?"

- Disinformation is the name of the game in today's narrative; see Wikipedia (HERE) for background.
- TV Tropes tells us that the Matter Repositor as posited in our story is inevitably "a form of Applied Phlebotinum [HERE] that gleefully ignores the laws of thermodynamics as it rearranges and reassembles matter at the nuclear level to do everything from fixing a radio 

to fixing a nice cup of Earl Grey [HERE]." Hirocker contemplates some of the consequences of such a technology (HERE); also see Memory Alpha Fandom (HERE) and Wikipedia (HERE and HERE).
~ "the gold at Fort Knox": Officially known as the United States Bullion Depository 
(Wikipedia HERE).
~ "Micronesian bushman": A generic term for several ethnic groups (Wikipedia HERE).
~ "the power and speed of a B-29": The bomber Japan wishes had never been built (Wikipedia HERE); in 1951 B-29s were still in frontline service in the Korean War.
~ "the N.A.M.": The abbreviation for the National Association of Manufacturers (Wikipedia HERE).
~ "One of the Duke University subjects tried to patent his ability to influence the fall of dice mentally.": "In the 1930s, at Duke University in North Carolina, J. B. Rhine and his wife Louisa E. Rhine conducted investigation into extrasensory perception. While Louisa Rhine concen-trated on collecting accounts of spontaneous cases, J. B. Rhine worked largely in the labora-tory, carefully defining terms such as ESP and psi and designing experiments to test them." — Wikipedia (HERE).
~ "perpetual motion machines": "Perpetual motion is motion of bodies that continues indefinitely. A perpetual motion machine is a hypothetical machine that can do work indefinitely without an energy source. This kind of machine is impossible, as it would 
violate the first or second law of thermodynamics." — Wikipedia (HERE).
~ "A name band revived 'The Thing'": A hit tune for Phil Harris (Wikipedia HERE).
~ "Goofy [HERE], My Friend Irma [HERE] , Mrs. Ace [?], and Gracie Allen [HERE]".
~ "the U.S. Post Office broke down and printed an issue of three-cent stamps": "The 3¢ rate for first-class had been unchanged since 1932, but by 1958 there were no more efficiency gains to keep the lid on prices, and the rate went to 4¢, beginning a steady series of rate increases that reached 49¢ as of January 26, 2014." — Wikipedia (HERE).
~ "a photo-mural of a ragged, depression-era breadline": "It is believed the term 'breadline' entered the popular lexicon in the 1880s. It was during those years that a noteworthy bakery in New York City’s Greenwich Village, 'Fleischmann Model Viennese Bakery,' instituted a policy of distributing unsold baked goods to the poor at the end of their business day." — Wikipedia (HERE).
~ "a billy descended on a well-barbered head": A weapon favored by police (Wikipedia HERE).
~ "the paddy-wagon": A police van: "The precise origin of the term is uncertain and disputed, though its use dates back to the 1800s." — Wikipedia (HERE).
~ "racetrack tout": "A tout is any person who solicits business or employment in a persistent and annoying manner . . ." — Wikipedia (HERE).
~ "supplement the Voice of America": "A U.S. multimedia agency which serves as the United States non-government institution for non-military, external broadcasting. It is the largest U.S. international broadcaster." — Wikipedia (HERE).
~ "a real honest-to-goodness juke box": Some are still around (Wikipedia HERE).

~ ~ ~

   "The whereabouts of a hideaway can be found—but what about the whenabouts?"

"Time Payment."
By Sylvia Jacobs (?-?).
Illustration by [Bob] Ritter (HERE).
First appearance: Worlds of IF, July 1960.
Short story (12 pages).
Online at Project Gutenberg (HERE).
     "The public's impression that the future can be altered or predicted is incorrect."

Can recidivism be cured? Maybe, just maybe, the metachronoscope is the answer . . .

~ Slick Tennant:

  "I ain't one of your nuts, Doc. And I don't want your money. I got plenty. All I want from you is a little trip in your time machine."
~ Dr. Richard Porter:
  "Metachronoscope. It's very misleading to call it a time-travel machine."
~ Dickie Porter:
  "You just do like he says. He's like the bad guys on TV."

- Sylvia Jacobs's full SFF-nal bibliography is on the Internet Speculative Fiction Database (HERE).

The bottom line:

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