“Diabologic,” Eric Frank Russell, 1955 – Wayne Hillder, a Terran, arrives on the planet of the Vards, a naïve but space faring race and a humanoid species covered in fine grey fur. He confounds them with riddles and fallacies until they send a specialist capable of understanding that HIllder’s “diabologic” must be the Terrans’ First Contact protocol. The specialist, as expected, recommends that the Vard politicians release the Terran with promises of friendship. Upon returning to his ship, Hillder realizes they’ve stolen two volumes from his ship’s library–but only those with diagrams and illustrations, having no way to translate texts such as Diabologic, the Science of Driving People Nuts.
Comments: Read in Connoisseur’s Science Fiction. Themes of logic, language/semantics, culture clash, primitive/civilized, communication, body language (predictable behavior and affect), riddles and paradoxes (e.g., Xeno’s paradox of the arrow), binary logic versus “shades of grey,” and intelligence (as it assumed that any race capable of space travel is one capable of appreciating twists in logic, failures in communication). Recalls Alice in Wonderland at times.
Author: Wikipedia: “Eric Frank Russell (January 6, 1905 – February 28, 1978) was a British author best known for his science fiction novels and short stories. Much of his work was first published in the United States, in John W. Campbell’s Astounding Science Fiction and other pulp magazines. Russell also wrote horror fiction for Weird Tales, and non-fiction articles on Fortean topics. A few of his stories were published under pseudonyms, of which ‘Duncan H. Munro’ was used most often.”