Psi High and others

by Alan E. Nourse
Reviewed date: 2018 Nov 15
157 pages
cover art

Nourse is pretty good at novella length.

The Martyr
Senator Dan Fowler is trying to get rejuvenation treatment made available to all citizens. In this he is opposed by the thoroughly corrupt Walter Rinehart, the chair of the Criterion Committee. Rinehart wants the life-extending treatment kept exclusive so he can continue using his position on the Criterion Committee to trade rejuvenation permits for political favors. Opposing them both is John Tyndall, who believes rejuvenation is an abomination and wants it outlawed entirely.

Dan has gone to great lengths to secure a rejuvenation permit for his brother Paul. But in a twist, Paul rejects the treatment. Dan demands to know why, so Paul tells him: rejuvenation changes people, and not for the better. With death no longer a consideration, there is no urgency--for anything. A once-great composer, after rejuvenation, has spent fifty years working on one composition but producing nothing. The space race? Stalled, because for decades the Starship project has been refining and polishing their blueprints--but producing nothing. Everywhere it's the same: when men are rejuvenated, they lose their drive. They muck about, staying busy but accomplishing nothing of value.

Senator Dan Fowler is convinced. At the Senate hearings he theatrically withdraws his proposal to open rejuvenation therapy to the general public, then throws his support behind John Tyndall. Then, rather than undergo rejuvenation himself, he elects to die from his heart condition. His martyrdom propels Tyndall to power and ends rejuvenation therapy.

I'm not sure I buy the premise of the story--that functional immortality will rob people of their drive to accomplish great works--but it's well told and I liked it.

Psi High
An alien lands on Earth. The authorities are trying to track him down, but his psychic powers make him a slippery fish--he can mess with minds and make people literally not see him. Complicating the manhunt (alienhunt) is the fact that powerful politicians object to the use of psychically sensitive "psi high" individuals in the operation. Psi high people aren't trusted.

Mirror, Mirror
An alien spaceship visits the solar system, destroys the Titan colony, then dives in Saturn's mantle and hides there. Earth is left wondering why the aliens are there, what they want, and how to make contact.

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