Via the Hewitt Ray
by M. F. Rupert
This story has got to be my favorite so far in the course (and not just because it did not involve a group of annoying Victorian explorers) . I felt a powerful curiosity in this story that was almost philosophical. Lines like “sounds we cannot hear – colors we cannot see “and “the world we are aware of is a very incomplete one “, put me in mind of a passionate scientist describing the ignorance of our own senses.
Although the actual science of what is going on in this story is reduced to a throw away explanation (as many stories do) by claiming that the details are not important, “I will not weary you with the details”. Well I don’t know about anyone else but I would have to say that the details of a machine that can teleport matter 180 miles a second would be very important!
The main hook for me in this story was the character of Lucile. I found her to be very interesting although not quite as altruistic as I had hoped . It was a relief to read a story with a strong female lead. She almost feels masculine in a sense of her being a brash pilot with no scientific experience, like a female Hans Solo? I mean she was travelling to another dimension and only thought to bring a colt revolver and a pack of smokes!
The men in this story feel very helpless in many respects. They seem almost like damsels in distress. Her hapless scientifically minded father who is a ” child to the world” and doesn’t seem to be aware of the true danger he is in, as well as the slave that she frees from a fate of death, taking him back to her world as a souvenir of sorts.
Her adventure has all the hallmarks of a classic fish out of water sci-fi tale. I especially enjoyed how , even when captured, she blows smoke in the face of the repulsive pig eyed savages in defiance!
The world itself is very interesting. The woman of this world are not painted in a very good light at times. They were once subjugated then fought back and won against the opposite sex to create a “better” society. These women seem almost Vulcan-esk in how they have broken all things down so logically, right down to having a specific area designated to using sterile beautiful men for sex. Here even pleasurable sex has had logic and order applied to it.
There is a coldness to them that is powerful and haunting. Immediately when Lucile meets the leader she informs her that her second in command has died to which she replies“ well we all die someday “, a very Vulcan like reaction. It is also shown that these women may not have the empathy needed for motherhood as they have giant insect servants care for there children! They also have their children’s lives\careers pre-planned which is a nice touch to this Utopian- Dystopia.
People who cause trouble in this world are altered and if the alterations are unsuccessful that person is painlessly executed . This put me in mind of the Star Trek the Next Generation episode called “Justice”, where the enterprise beams down to a Utopian like world that is beautiful and efficient. However, they later realize that the worlds beauty is the result of a black and white judicial system that issues the death penalty for any and all transgressions against the population. Parallels can also be drawn with the Star Trek the Next Generation episode called ” Angel One “.
“My Father!” I wailed. “If he is with these Third Evolutionists and you wipe them out—what will happen to him ?” “I’m afraid it is unavoidable, but if he is with them he will have to go too.”
It also gave me that star trek feel in that it was dealing with issues of interfering with another society and violating the prime directive. The people of this world have visitors but are still eager to be rid of them so they can continue with there way of life and development. Her taking the insubordinate man as a souvenir is a form of deception and alteration that would conflict with the prime directive (if this was Star Trek).
“We enjoyed having you here. But only as visitors. When your visit is completed you must go back. We are much too busy living our own lives and working out our destinies. We do not care to take on the responsibility of trying to fit in our lives with those of an odd dimension nor to take the time and trouble to fit the odd dimensioners into our life.”
I was glad to see Lucile rescue the insubordinate male however I was let down that she so eagerly participated in war. I suppose that is something Hans Solo might do if profit or some greater cause was involved. I was hoping she would have a moral dilemma and perhaps not get involved, or seek some diplomacy. Although I could see how that would be in vain given the stubborn nature of the world she is in. In the end it felt like Hans Solo fighting along side the empire.
“Lucile, I did not know you were such a blood-thirsty savage. Why, I watched you through the television and you certainly did your share of destruction and seemed to be enjoying yourself immensely !”
“I thought you wanted the men to admit the women’s superiority.” “Oh well !” I answered nonchalantly, glancing out of the corner of my eye at John. “It all depends on who the man is”
*Fades to black and cue music and audience laugh track