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The Age of the Pussyfoot

by Frederik Pohl

Contents

Foreword

One

Two

Three

Four

Five

Six

Seven

Eight

Nine

Ten

Eleven

Twelve

Thirteen

Fourteen

Fifteen

Sixteen

Seventeen

Eighteen

Author’s Note

Foreword

I have two conflicting opinions. One is that any story should stand on its own feet—which means that, generally speaking, anything a writer has to say about his own story is better left unsaid. If it’s worth saying, why didn’t he say it in the story itself?

The other opinion, however, is equally firmly fixed in my mind, and at this moment it is in direct conflict with the first. That is, I think that more people should read science fiction than appear to be willing to do so; and I think the reason for this is that many people regard it as crazy, fantastic stuff with no basis in the real world and no relevance to their own lives.

I would like to hope that some people will read this book who normally don’t read science fiction. If you are one of them, and if you begin to feel like those many others mentioned above, please pause in your reading and go on to look at the author’s note included in the back of the book.

It seems to me that science fiction can have relevance to the real world and, yes, to your own life. And some of my reasons for thinking so are set forth here. . . .

One

Over everyone in the room, or perhaps it was a park, the lighting cast shapes and symbols of color. The girl in the filmy gown had at one moment glittering pink eyes and, at the next, an aura of silvery hair. The man next to Forrester had golden skin and a mask of shadow. Wisps of odor drifted past him, rosebuds following sage. There were snatches of a crystalline, far-off music.

“I’m rich!” he yelled. “And alive!”

No one seemed to mind. Forrester plucked one of the colorless grapes Hara had recommended to him, rose, patted the girl in the filmy dress, and walked unsteadily down to the pool where the revelers splashed and swam in a naked tangle. In spite of the long post-revival indoctrination that had given him so many new things and removed so much trash that was old, Forrester had not lost the habit of being a little dirty minded, and he was interested in nakedness.

“It’s Forrester the rich man!” one of them shouted. Forrester smiled and waved. A girl cried, “Sing him a song! A song!” And they all splashed at him and sang:

Oh, he died and he died and he died—

(SPLASH!)

And he cried and he cried and he cried—

(SPLASH!)

With his rages and his cholers he’s a puzzle to the scholars, And he’s got a quarter of a million dollars!

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