“Let’s Be Frank,” Brian W. Aldiss, 1957 — “Four years after pretty little Anne Boleyn was executed in the Tower of London, a child was born into the Gladwebb family–an unusual child” to a young Sir Frank Gladwebb and unnamed mother. Despite initial disappointment, he forms a bond with the comatose child. Eventually the child awakes and Frank realizes he’s in two bodies at once. The two versions of Frank conspire to spread “the gene” far and wide, including into female bodies. Frank becomes the first man to understand the “womans point of view” from an embodied standpoint.
The Franks spread throughout Europe. As they know everything that occurs as it happens, news end; engaged in mutual self-interest, war ends. All effort is directed into reproduction. With Europe conquered, they turn their collective eye to the Americas, only to discover that a mutant variant of the Frank gene has branched off and created a different consciousness which has already seeded and taken over the Americas. The two entities break the stalemate by sending the Frank identity to the stars. The story is related by a narrator on Venus, who is thankful that the Venusians have a different reproductive method. Only this has saved them from conquest by Earth.
Comments: Read in The Best of the Best. A variant of the “hive mind”/group consciousness tale.
Author: Wikipedia: “Brian Wilson Aldiss, OBE (born 18 August 1925) is an English author of both general fiction and science fiction. His byline reads either Brian W. Aldiss or simply Brian Aldiss. Greatly influenced by science fiction pioneer H. G. Wells, Aldiss is a vice-president of the international H. G. Wells Society. He is also (with Harry Harrison) co-president of the Birmingham Science Fiction Group. Aldiss was named a Grand Master by the Science Fiction Writers of America in 2000, and has received two Hugo Awards, one Nebula Award, and one John W. Campbell Memorial Award. His influential works include the short story “Super-Toys Last All Summer Long”, the basis for the Stanley Kubrick-developed Steven Spielberg film A.I. Artificial Intelligence.” For an overview of Aldiss’s themes, see Joseph Milicia’s introduction to Starswarm. Gardner Dozois summarizes Aldis’s “old earth” stories in his introduction to The Furthest Horizon.