Patti Abbott is the generous host of Friday’s Forgotten Books at her wonderful blog Pattinase.
So the baby had a pet monster. And so nobody but baby could see it. And so a couple of men dropped out of thin air to check and see if the monster was licensed or not. So what's strange about that?
Last month, I reviewed two sf stories, The Father-Thing by Philip K. Dick and Rain, Rain, Go Away by Isaac Asimov, which centered on families and exposed their vulnerability. This week, I read another sf story, Sorry: Wrong Dimension by Ross Rocklynne, which had a similar theme.
Families appear to be a pet topic among many science fiction writers, as evident from these and a few other sf stories I've read, including the very entertaining The Million-Year Picnic by Ray Bradbury. Each of these stories has a twist; some of them are scary, others chilling. No one likes to see, or read about, bad things happening to good people, especially to families, to women and children. It’s only fiction, still what if...
Ross Rocklynne, the assumed name of American sf writer Ross Louis Rocklin (1913- 1988), once again demolishes the notion of the happy family, or so it would seem, in his short story Sorry: Wrong Dimension published in Amazing Stories, March 1954.
Stella Weaver is a lovely housewife who is having tea with her neighbour, Mabel Aspectia, also a housewife. They are bored but contented with life. They are talking about what housewives often talk about: what to cook for their husbands that evening. When Stella realises that her baby hasn't been crying for a while, she goes into his room to investigate and finds the little tot gurgling with joy, as if playing with someone—or something. She reaches out for the baby in the crib and, instead, touches an invisible furry monster that is, in fact, playing with her child. Stella is stricken with horror and screams out instinctively. That is when she discovers they are in another dimension, possibly not of our planet, our solar system or our galaxy.
Unlike The Father-Thing, this was a funny and delightful story. Stella doesn’t faint or anything like that. When she realises that the pet monster is harmless, she takes things in her stride and decides to call her husband to tell him about it. Except, each time she does, she gets the wrong dimension! The story ends on a happy note with friendly “people” from the other dimension coming to pick up the little wayward monster and Stella and Mabel carrying on where they had left off—what to cook for their husbands.
Sorry: Wrong Dimension is an excellent example of the immense and unimaginable possibilities that lie in sf.