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65

<Aug 31, 1953

Dec 1958

Tony And The Beetles

Explorers We

MS title: "Looney Lemuel"

FIRST PUBLICATION

HISTORY:

   "Null-O", which arrived at the SMLA on Aug 31 1953, the same day as "Tony And The Beetles", was originally titled "Loony Lemuel." The story was published in the Dec 1958 issue of If. Again, after initial publication, the story dropped from sight only to reappear in THE COLLECTED STORIES OF PKD (1987).

    Why it took five years to find publication is not known although biographer Gregg Rickman suggests it may have been due to the story’s message:

    In "Null-O" a motley crew of the ordinary people he favors rises up and destroys the rationalist scientists who have wrecked the earth's surface; an overtly radical message that may explain the five year delay in the story's publication (1953 to 1958).

    "Null-O", in fact, is a jaundiced look at A.E.Van Vogt’s concept of ‘Null-A’ (THE WORLD OF NULL-A and its successors). Lemuel is a boy with a super-logical mind, incapable of feeling normal human emotions like compassion, sorrow or pity. Lemuel hooks up with others of his kind; paranoids who believe that the universe must be homogenized into an undifferentiated state. Of course, the Null-O’s are just the ones to do this, designing a C-bomb to render down the cities of Earth and then an E-bomb to detonate the Earth itself, and then an S-bomb for the sun and so on up to the U-bomb to take care of the universe. But their plans come to a screeching halt when thousands of ordinary men who have been living underground surface and wreck all the Null-O plans and equipment and kill most of the Null-O’s. Some escape on a rocket-ship, though, and Lemuel is heartened by their fading message that they will continue their plans – right before he, himself, is captured by the ordinaries.

    This story is a bit unfair, perhaps, to Van Vogt’s original conception. Just because a thalamic pause and a logical mind figure in his novels doesn’t mean that his characters are paranoid, just, well, logical.

    The name ‘Loony Lemuel’ recurs in PKD’s later novel THE SIMULACRA but belongs to a different character altogether.

    "Null-O" rates


Other Magazine and Anthology appearances.

1987   THE COLLECTED STORIES OF PKD        
       
       

NOTES:

TTHC 274

    In "Null-O" a motley crew of the ordinary people he favors rises up and destroys the rationalist scientists who have wrecked the earth's surface; an overtly radical message that may explain the five year delay in the story's publication (1953 to 1958).


Collector’s Notes

Ken Lopez: "Null-O" in If, Dec 1958 (1st). G. Signed by the author. Creasing, rubbing and small chips to front cover. $100


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