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[personal profile] james_davis_nicoll
The Brooklyn Brain

Pity poor Joe, who just wants to work hard enough to support his wife, if he could just talk Clarice into marrying him; not only is Clarice not inclined to hand out even tepid physical favours outside the boundaries of marriage, she's not keen on marrying a man as uncultured as working class Joe [1].

Happily for Joe, there's a scientist who needs a human subject to test his instant education machine and Joe's secretary Flora is the sort of observant woman who would notice an ad such a scientist might place in a paper looking for a volunteer for such a machine. In sort order, Joe has had "culchah" (which seems to be art and art history) poured into his head, enough to impress both Clarice and his weaselly rival.

Everything seems fine and then Joe finds out the effect is strictly temporary and worse, the professor has dismantled the machine so he can have it moved. No knowledge implants for at least a month and now Joe has to figure out a way to stall for time.

I'm pretty sure Joe's scheme is going to blow up in his face big time. Maybe he can gain enough time to learn the stuff for real. Maybe Clarice will forgive him....

Instant education machines used to be a thing in SF. Not sure why they went away.

The high points of this were the pride the professor took in knowing he had managed during animal trials to create a dog who knows "the Einstein theory" and his sadness at realizing there was no longer a dog that understood relativity. Although the conversation between the professor and his assistant as they suddenly wonder if it was a good idea to eject out into the street a guy who just had a million volts run through his brain had its moments.

I wonder if back in 1950 Clarice's cultural ambitions were meant to be seen as hilariously inappropriate for her class.


1: Although Joe's clearly management, I expect he got there the hard way.

Date: 2012-12-29 04:41 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] icecreamempress.livejournal.com
Wait, how can Joe have a secretary if he's working class?

Date: 2012-12-29 04:42 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] icecreamempress.livejournal.com
Never mind, you answered this in your footnote!

Date: 2012-12-29 05:09 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] james-nicoll.livejournal.com
Maybe I am misreading the character but he sounds like a guy who worked his way up from the loading dock to the back office.

Date: 2012-12-30 12:02 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] icecreamempress.livejournal.com
Yep yep, like Alan Hale, Sr., in They Drive By Night or Eugene Pallette in everything.

Date: 2012-12-29 05:00 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] kithrup.livejournal.com
Instant education machines used to be a thing in SF. Not sure why they went away.

Still in Lee and Miller's Liaden universe. Which, admittedly, is pretty pulpy. (Not as pulpy as Doyle and MacDonald's, though, which I don't think has them.)

Date: 2012-12-29 05:02 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] neowolf2.livejournal.com
Perhaps they went away because if they actually did exist, they'd be the most horrific instruments of repression ever invented.

Date: 2012-12-29 05:04 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] kithrup.livejournal.com
It is used as a torture device in at least one of the Liaden books. And/or potential weapon.

Date: 2012-12-29 06:02 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] austin-dern.livejournal.com
As if there's one thing science fiction authors and readers reject en masse, it's horrific instruments of repression.

Date: 2012-12-29 06:54 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] harvey-rrit.livejournal.com
I believe there was a paper on the inevitable reversion of intelligence increase, authored by Charles Gordon.

Date: 2012-12-29 03:49 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] james-nicoll.livejournal.com
Speaking of stories I was really expecting to find a radio play of but didn't.

Date: 2012-12-30 04:21 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] dbdatvic.livejournal.com
That, and Smith's _The Fourth 'R'_, between them pretty much took care of all the low-hanging fruit in the concept, and SF writers don't want to write stuff that takes effort, correct?

--Dave

Date: 2012-12-30 05:03 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] james-nicoll.livejournal.com
Oh, hey. (http://www.sffaudio.com/?p=30357)

Is RadioArchive.cc a legal source?

Date: 2012-12-30 05:08 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] james-nicoll.livejournal.com
does not seem to work, in any case.

Date: 2012-12-29 01:03 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] agharta75.livejournal.com
So, how did it end? The 1950s happy ending (Clarice learns to appreciate Joe for what he is) or what should happen (dump her, Joe, already ... )?

Date: 2012-12-29 03:27 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] james-nicoll.livejournal.com
He talks her into marrying him and taking a month long honeymoon, after which they can get back to the culture stuff.

Date: 2012-12-29 06:59 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] seth ellis (from livejournal.com)
Not that I don't get the joke, but "I want to keep her from finding out the truth about me, so I'll spend an entire month in her constant presence!" doesn't seem like the world's most solid plan.

Date: 2012-12-29 07:30 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] james-nicoll.livejournal.com
Like I said, I expect "Joe's scheme is going to blow up in his face big time". Maybe they don't have divorce in this future year of 2000 plus whatever it was.

Date: 2012-12-29 07:41 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] seth ellis (from livejournal.com)
Entrapment is the cornerstone of any successful marriage.

Date: 2012-12-30 12:01 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] icecreamempress.livejournal.com
He's going to mesmerize her with his penis.

The "I must marry this person so I can have sex with them!" plot device is pretty vestigial now, though it does survive in the surprisingly large field of Amish romance (novels written by women of other Protestant denominations about women of other Protestant denominations meeting and falling in love with Amish men, I should hasten to add---Amish women are strongly discouraged from reading or writing novels of any kind in most Amish groups).

Date: 2012-12-30 01:38 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] seth ellis (from livejournal.com)
Amish romance, really? I had no idea. I guess it makes sense in a way--at least, I'm assuming it's based on the appeal of the unapproachable?

Date: 2012-12-31 01:57 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] scott-sanford.livejournal.com
It the horse-drawn buggies. Chicks dig a guy in a buggy.

Date: 2012-12-29 02:55 pm (UTC)
ext_90666: (NeCoRo)
From: [identity profile] kgbooklog.livejournal.com
a million votes

Was that supposed to be "volts"?

Date: 2012-12-29 03:46 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] james-nicoll.livejournal.com
It was. Thank you.

Date: 2012-12-29 10:05 pm (UTC)
ext_6388: Avon from Blake's 7 fails to show an emotion (Default)
From: [identity profile] fridgepunk.livejournal.com
I wonder if back in 1950 Clarice's cultural ambitions were meant to be seen as hilariously inappropriate for her class.

Nah, I think that was one of the stock female character traits of the period, lots of generic working or lower-middle class social climbing female characters and wives were prone to wanting to go to The Opera or The Theatre or elsewhere to get some Culture while their poor and much put upon husbands without discernible positive personality traits would grumble and grudgingly go or come up with a way to avoid spending any personal time with their wife rather than continue the deeply homoerotic extra-marital platonic relationships with other men in boring suits that they carried on in public.

Whole legions of sitcoms and newspaper strips were built around the dynamic, but afaik only Hagar The Horrible maintained it to the present day.

Date: 2012-12-29 10:15 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] james-nicoll.livejournal.com
In Joe's case, the only other person we see him associate with willingly is Flora.

Date: 2012-12-29 11:57 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] icecreamempress.livejournal.com
On "The Honeymooners" Alice and Trixie want to go to the theater, but Ralph and Ed live only for their lodge meetings.

Date: 2012-12-30 01:18 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] asyouknow-bob.livejournal.com
Instant education machines used to be a thing in SF. Not sure why they went away.

They were replaced by instantaneous internet access?

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