Wednesday, April 21, 2021

"I Have Died of Boredom"

"From an Unseen Censor."
By Rosel George Brown (1926-67).
Illustrations by Diane Dillon (born 1933; HERE) and Leo Dillon  (1933-2012; HERE) [as by Dillon].
First appearance: Galaxy, September 1958.
Reprints page (HERE).
Novelette (20 pages; 3 illos).
Online at Project Gutenberg (HERE).

     "You can't beat my Uncle Isadore—he's dead but he's quick—yet that is just what he was daring me to try and do!"

A handsome inheritance awaits Uncle Izzy's nephew, but there's a catch: "I bequeath you my entire fortune. Find it." It's there, all right, hidden among the words of "a ghastly poem" . . . .
Principal characters:
~ Rene:
  "It's out of character for anybody to die. But I've seen a lot of them dead."
~ Uncle Isadore:
  "I have hidden my body to avoid the banality of a decent burial."
~ Mr. Picks:
  ". . . shook his head sadly . . ."
~ The Cha'n of Betelgeuse, Lord of the Seven Planets and the Four Hundred Moons:
  "Call me Charlie."
~ Uncle Izzy's nephew:

Typo: "Uncle Algernon".

References and resources:
- This story is saturated with allusions to Poe's "The Raven" (1845); go to the Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore page (HERE).
- "why he radared": We can't find any sources that describe how radar can be used in message communications. (Wikipedia HERE).
- "Alphard kappa," "Procyon beta," "Sirius beta," and "Aldebaran kappa": These star names seem to be the author's inventions; we're guessing "kappa" and "beta" designate individual planets in these systems:
  "Alphard designated Alpha Hydrae (α Hydrae, abbreviated Alpha Hya, α Hya), is the brightest star in the constellation of Hydra. It is a single giant star, cooler than the sun but larger and more luminous. It is about 177 light years away." (Wikipedia HERE).
  "As determined by the European Space Agency Hipparcos astrometry satellite, this system [Procyon] lies at a distance of just 11.46 light-years (3.51 parsecs), and is therefore one of Earth's nearest stellar neighbours." (Wikipedia HERE).
  "Sirius appears bright because of its intrinsic luminosity and its proximity to the Solar System. At a distance of 2.64 parsecs (8.6 ly), the Sirius system is one of Earth's nearest neighbours. Sirius is gradually moving closer to the Solar System . . ." (Wikipedia HERE).
  "Aldebaran, designated α Tauri (Latinized to Alpha Tauri, abbreviated Alpha Tau, α Tau), is a giant star measured to be about 65 light-years from the Sun . . ." (Wikipedia HERE).
- "the Cha'n of Betelgeuse": "Classified as a red supergiant of spectral type M1-2, Betelgeuse is one of the largest stars visible to the naked eye. If it were at the center of our Solar System, its surface would lie beyond the asteroid belt and it would engulf the orbits of Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, and possibly Jupiter." (Wikipedia HERE).
- "Not like Edgar Guest": Well-known in his day: "Edgar Albert Guest (1881–1959) was a British-born American poet who became known as the People's Poet. His poems often had an inspirational and optimistic view of everyday life." (Wikipedia HERE).
- "the Footlooses I used to go to": From the context we infer that they were school dances.
- "the dodo": Although human stupidity caused its extinction, the dodo survives in a way: "The Dodo is a fictional character appearing in Chapters 2 and 3 of the 1865 book Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll (Charles Lutwidge Dodgson). The Dodo is a caricature of the author." (Wikipedia HERE).
- "Nepenthe?": "Nepenthe is a fictional medicine for sorrow – a 'drug of forgetfulness' mentioned in ancient Greek literature and Greek mythology, depicted as originating in Egypt." (Wikipedia HERE).
- "the slidewalks of Brooklyn": A mode of transportation that enjoyed a vogue in 1950s SFF: "A slidewalk is a fictional moving pavement structurally sound enough to support buildings and large populations of travelers. Adjacent slidewalks moving at different rates could let travelers accelerate to great speeds." (Wikipedia HERE).
- "From an Unseen Censor" was the first publication for Rosel George Brown, a talented author, who passed away at far too early an age; see Wikipedia (HERE), the SFE (HERE), The Future Is Female! (HERE), and the ISFDb (HERE).

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