THE NOTEBOOKS OF MACK SIKES

by Larry Niven

"No conflict, no story,' says my friend and Sarge. They he yells across the room, "Hey, Larry! See that six-foot-tall white rabbit over there?"

"Yeah?"

"Curtain!"

A rare publishing event has brought this old party routine suddenly to mind.

Harvey McIlroy Sikes turned to science fiction in the 1930s. His work, spanning three decades, in noted more for the quantity than for quality; but the pulp magazines were always hungry for material. Now, at last, Mack Sikes' estate has permitted us to publish these excerpts from his notebooks. Sikes' fans may derive some enjoyment from these dozen-odd plot summations of stories that Sikes somehow never got around to writing.

CLAN

Tale of Johnny Foss, a young Clan brother in search of his people. The Clan mutants have long since gone into hiding from the vengeful jealousy of the unchanging, numerically superior humans. Characteristic of the mutation are: tiny black tendrils to be found near the roots of a Clan's typically blond hair; slightly lowered intelligence; and a greatly enhanced sex drive.

YOU, ROBOT

Adam Asimov, the world's first intelligent robot, is accused of murdering its creator. In its cell the robot prints out a full confession, then hangs itself using a thick steel cable. This allows the robot's defense lawyer to get the robot off on a plea of insanity.

BLANKENSTEIN

Victor Blankenstein, a young and half-mad physician, is obsesses with the ambition to create a man. He spends years procuring parts of dead bodies, joining them into a giant humanoid form. Finished, he subjects the creature to a combination of lightening and man made electricity. Unfortunately, the composite body does not respond. It continues to decay, while enraged villagers converge on Blankenstein's laboratory, screaming about "health hazards".

BRAVE NEW WHIRL

A savage raised in primitive conditions is introduced, without preparation, into the civilization of a thousand years from now. Within forty years he has killed himself through overindulgence.

1985

Benevolent dictatorship threatens to become anarchy when the dictator, known only as Big Brother, is stricken with hysterical blindness. Was it something he saw? While society disintegrates outside the Ministry of Truth, heroic doctors try to cure the dictator's blindness through highly imaginative forms of shock therapy.

MARINA

Two warring races ready themselves for the epic battle that will exterminate one race and will probably leave the other too nearly destroyed to survive. A third force intervenes. One Outsider and one human find themselves marooned on an alien world, separated by an invisible barrier. A telepathic voice tells them they must settle the war in single combat. Unable to reach each other, the combatants agree to settle their differences in a game of multi-lingual Scrabble.

NIGHTFALLING

On a world within a multiple star system, night falls only once in three thousand years, when all the suns are on one side of the planet. As the sky darkens and the stars begin to emerge, everybody goes to bed.

THE COLD MATHEMATICS

A girl stows away on a spacecraft carrying strictly limited fuel. Her extra mass will mean that the ship has insufficient fuel to land. She must be ejected, and quickly. Fortunately nobody likes her very much.

TAU TEENY

A spaceship carrying several hundred humans and all the requirements of a prefab colony, finds itself marooned at the edge of lightspeed when the brakes on its Bussard ramjet drive burn out. Their only hope is to drive the ship to ever higher velocities, building up the time dilation effect to give themselves extra time to think of something. Fortunately they are rescued by a passing faster-than-light ship built several decades later.

THE LEFT HAND OF BENNY

The Winzers are a nearly human race, differing from the humans of other worlds in one important respect. They spend most of their time as neuters. At rare intervals they may become male or female, unpredictably. Benny Hai is chosen as ambassador to the Wizners because of his very similar life style. They get along fine.

GRALLDEN

Some unnamed disaster has plunged the city of Bellokta into anarchy. Hero enters Bellokta, explores without any special purpose in mind, learns nothing, and eventually wanders out again. Sikes seems to have chosen this loose plot framework as an opportunity to publish almost a million words of scenes and notes from unfinished stories. Publishers saw thinks differently, and he never sold it.

THE ROADS MUST STROLL

Study of a nationwide strike of the Slidewalk Repairman's Union. Chaos reigns as airline passengers must walk to the luggage depots.

TOURIST IN A STRANGE LAND

Michael Valentine Wisowaty, raised from birth by Martians, is brought at the age of twenty-one to Greenwich Village, founds a new religion based on polygamy. Martians believe he has gone native.

BUG NORMAN SPINRAD

Talk show host, driven insane by inane and stupid phone calls night after night, falls prey to delusions of grandeur and persecution.

MISSTEP OF GRAVITY

Mekzlin: a massive world with a tremendous rotation rate- - -once in twenty-one minutes- - -and a surface gravity that varies from 3G at the distended equator, to 800G at the poles. An exploring ship makes the tragic mistake of landing at the pole. Ships's robots must somehow scrape the remains of the crew out of the circuitry before the ship sags into a disk.

Originally published in SCIENCE FICTION REVIEW #19, August 1976 vol 5 #3 whole number 18. Richard E. Geis, editor and publisher.