Жанр книги: Научная Фантастика
Robert A Heinlein To Sail Beyond The Sunset

My problems for the next ten years were Princess Polly, Priscilla, Donald, George Strong. .. and a curious metaphysical problem I still don't know how to resolve - or how I should have resolved it, although I have talked it over in depth with my husband and friend Dr Jubal Harshaw and with some of the finest mathematico-manipulative cosmologists in any universe, starting with Elizabeth ‘Slipstick Libby' Long. It involves the age-old pseudo-paradox of free will and predestination.

Free will is a fact, while you are living it. And predestination is a fact, when you look at any sequence from outside.

But in World-as-Myth neither free will nor predestination have meaning. Each is semantically null. If we are simply patterns of fictions put together by fabulists, then one may as well speak of free will for pieces in a chess game. After the game is history and the chessmen have been placed back in the box, does the Black Queen lose sleep moaning, ‘Oh, I should never have taken that pawn! '


I am not an assemblage of fictions. I was not created by a fabulist. I am a human woman, daughter of human parents, and mother of seventeen boys and girls in my first life and mother of still more in my first rejuvenation. If I am controlled by destiny, then that destiny lies in my genes. .. not in the broodings of some near-sighted introvert hunched over a roboscriber.

Mie trouble was that there came a time as we neared the end of the decade that I realised that Theodore had told me about a tragedy that could possibly be prevented. Or could it? Could I use my free will to break the golden chains of predestination? Could I use my foreknowledge that something was going to happen to cause it not to happen?

Let's turn it upside down - If I keep something from happening, how could I have foreknowledge of something that never happened?

Don't try to sort that out; you'll bite your own tail.

Is it ever possible to avoid an appointment in Samarra?

I knew that the power satellite was going to blow up, killing everybody aboard. But in 1952 no one else knew that there would ever be a power satellite. In 1952 it was not even a blueprint.

What was my duty?

On Friday Dr Rumsey told me that Priscilla was not pregnant and that she was physically old enough to be bred and that he was willing to support a delayed birth certificate, if I wanted her to have one, showing an age anywhere from thirteen to nineteen. .. but that in his opinion she was childish in her attitudes.

I agreed. ‘But I may have to phoney an age of at least sixteen. '

‘I see. Her brother is screwing her, isn't he? '

I answered, ‘Is this room soundproofed? '

‘Yes. And so is my nurse. We've heard everything, dear, much of it a lot worse than a little brother sister incest. We had a case last week - not Howards, thank God - of "His brother is screwing him". Be glad your kids are normal. With brother-sister games all that is usually needed is to see to it that she doesn't get pregnant and that they get over it in time to marry somebody else. Which they almost always do. Haven't you run into this before? '

‘Yes. Before you took over your father's practice. Didn't he tell you? '

‘Are you kidding? Pop treats the Hippocratic Oath as handed down from on high. How did it work out? '

‘Okay in the long run, although it worried me at the time. Older sister taught younger brother and then younger brother taught still younger sister. I walked on eggs for a while, wondering whether to catch them or just to keep an eye out for trouble. But they never let it get intense; they just enjoyed it. My kids are a horny lot, all of them. '

‘And you aren't? '

‘Shall I take off my panties? Or shall we finish this discussion? '

‘I'm too tired. Go on. '

‘Sissy. Eventually they all took the Howard shilling, and now all three couples are friendly, with, I think, occasional Westchester weekends. But they keep such things out of my sight to keep from shocking poor old strait-laced Mama. But these two don't have that easy-going attitude. Jim, I've got to get that girl married. '

‘Maureen, Priscilla isn't ready to get married. The cure would be worse than the disease. You would ruin some man's life while spoiling hers, not to mention the damage to possible children. Hmm - Priscilla told me she had just moved here from Dallas. I don't know Marian. Hardy family - right? What sort of a person is Marian? '

‘Jim, I am not an unprejudiced witness. '

‘That from the woman who can always see the good side in the Devil himself tells me all I need to know. Well, Marian may have had good intentions but she did not do a good job on Priscilla. At least not good enough to risk letting her marry at fourteen, no matter how mature her pelvic measurements are. Maureen, I'll fake any age you say - but don't let her get married so young. '

‘I'll try, dear. I've got a tiger by the tail. Thank you. '

He kissed me goodbye. Shortly I said, ‘Stop that; you said you were too tired. And you've got a waiting-room full of patients. '

‘Sissy. '

‘Yup. Some other time, dear. Give my love to Velma. I want to get you both over for dinner next week to see my new house. Maybe then. '

Princess Polly took a while to accept the move. For two weeks I kept her indoors and using a sand box. Then I let her out. An hour later, not being able to find her, I drove slowly back the eight blocks to our old house. When I was almost there, I spotted her, parked quickly and called her. She stopped and listened, let me approach her, then scampered away, straight for her old home. No, her only home.

I watched in horror as she crossed diagonally at Meyer and Rockhill - two busy boulevards. She make it safely and I breathed again and went back for my car and drove to our old house, arriving as she did because I conformed to traffic rules while she did not. I let per sniff around inside an empty house for a few minutes, then picked per up and brought per home.

For the next ten days this was repeated once, and sometimes twice, a day. Then came a day - the day after Labor Day, I believe - when a wrecking crew arrived to clear the site. George had warned me, so that day I did not let per out. I took per there - let her go inside as usual and sniff around, then the crew arrived and started tearing the house down. Princess came running to me and I let per sit in my lap in the car, at the kerb.

She watched, while the Only Home was destroyed.