“.....One of the novas of the SF cosmos.” The New Encyclopaedia of Science Fiction Strange Genius is a collection of stories about people whose minds are beyond the ordinary. Included is the hard to find novel The New Adam, a surprising tale of homo superior born among us, the first of a new human race, an evolutionary leap and a man whose mind is so different that he’s an alien on his own planet. Also included are the humorous van Manderpootz stories about a scientific genius who wants everyone to know how great he is, and several more of Weinbaum’s delightful tales of the human mind at work. The Leonaur Collected Science Fiction & Fantasy of Stanley G. Weinbaum brings together all of the author’s genre novels and shorter works in a uniform edition for the first time ever.
Edmond and Sarah, two strange elements in the fantastic quadrangle, seemed for the brief ensuing period to be more perfectly aligned, to possess a greater degree of harmony than the stormy combination that was the origin of their union. Sarah, cold, languid, impersonal, seemed to her companion a fit and desirable consort, and a haven of peace and quiet intellect. Not yet had the demands of his body made themselves evident, and the pleasant poison he had imbibed was yet to run its course in his nature.
Still, a remnant of the sorrow Edmond felt at the loss of Vanny survived to sadden him. Sympathy and pity were emotions that had grown less foreign to his character, and he was coming to know a sort of famili arity for their twin dolorous faces. Yet the first bit terness of his renunciation passed with the inception of Sarah’s completer understanding. He managed to suppress for the time being that sense of beauty which was the one trait that had so far yielded him a modicum of satisfaction. Sometimes, however, the urge returned to plague him, and he wondered anew at the self-borne inconsistency that caused him to find beauty in an alien creature.
“There is a sort of Satanic majesty about Sarah,” he thought, “and her self-sufficiency is admirable, and proper to her kind. There is also a very precious element in understanding and companionship, and Sarah only, of all created beings, has that to offer me. It is irrational for me to seek in her a beauty her heredity denies her, the more irrational since her body, and not human woman’s, is my appointed lure. And yet, rational or not, I miss the white wistful loveliness that is Vanny’s! I have twisted my own nature into hopelessly unnatural channels!”
So he entered into this new union, part of him satisfied, and part of him prey to a longing that survived out of his old life. He moved Sarah away from her drab little room into an apartment over looking the Park on Lake View Avenue. He doubted whether the change to more commodious quarters affected her at all, for so self-contained an entity was she that her surroundings were of all influences the most negligible. Not that she was a stranger to beauty, her artistry denied that supposition; but she drew her inspiration from a source far removed from reality, somewhere in the depths of her own complex character. She found, in her quiet and complacent duality, compensations that Edmond for all his rest less seeking was forever denied.
Their wooing was a languid, and to Edmond, a disappointing affair lacking both the stimulus of obstacles and the spur of uncertainty. Sarah was acquiescent but unresponsive, yielding lackadaisical caresses in return for Edmond’s own unenthusiastic offerings. There was none of the fiery ecstasy that made Vanny’s love like to a flaming meteor burning the very air in its passage. That compulsion to repro duce, which had seemed originally noble and worthy of fulfillment, hung now about Edmond’s neck like an iron collar, deadening half his pleasure in Sarah’s companionship and reminding him insistently of the delights he had forsworn.
“If this is the measure of my race’s capacity for enjoyment,” he reflected, “then whatever their attain ments of the intellect, they have much indeed to learn from their simple human progenitors!”
As summer progressed, the feeling of discontent deepened, and even the high and Platonic intimacy with Sarah was embittered by it.
“Sarah has failed me now,” he thought. “There is no release anywhere for me who am doomed for ever to tread a solitary path.”
He continued his gloomy reflections. “It is a curi ous fact that all speculators concerning the Super man have made the egregious mistake of picturing him as happier than man. Nietzsche, Gobineau, Wells—each of them falls into this same error when all logic clearly denies it. Is the man of today happier than Homo Neanderthalis in his filth-strewn cave? Was this latter happier than Pithecanthropus, or he happier than an ape swinging through Pleistocene trees? Rather, I think, the converse is true; with the growth of intellect, happiness becomes an elusive quantity, so that doubtless the Superman, when he arrives, will be of all creatures the most unhappy. I, his prototype, am the immediate example.”
It was with a feeling of relief that he realized Sarah was pregnant; part of the compulsion was satisfied, part of his responsibility was behind him. Sarah too seemed to feel the lessening of the ten sion; their mutual interest in this purely rational undertaking of producing offspring bound them a little closer together. But Sarah withdrew more closely into herself after the event; she seemed to have less need than ever for a presence other than her own.
Often, during the months of summer, Edmond brought out his grey car and drove for many hours and many miles in an effort merely to escape the dullness of thinking. For his very thoughts palled upon him at times, seeming to him a rather wan and sickly substitute for certain realities he had known. He was seldom successful in his attempt, for the curse of intellect pursued him with speed easily sufficient to outdistance the mechanism in which he fled.
Still, the curious union was surviving. His nature and Sarah’s never met in open conflict, since Sarah’s desires were never deep-rooted enough to resist his own impulses; she gave way to him equably, quietly, and without rancor, yielding everything and finding recompense in her unborn child, her art, and herself. So the strange menage ground itself into a sort of stability as summer closed.