“The Other,” Howard D. Graham, PhD (Howard Wandrei), 1934

“The Other,” Howard D. Graham, PhD, 1934 – Basil Sash, reporter, pressures Captain Ingvaldssen, aka the “Norski Cow” into explaining why he brought back a female corpse from his recent trip to the Arctic.  Sash realizes that “Ing”–whom he describes as a violent, misogynistic, scientist, explorer “hero”—has found an alien woman of superior intelligence, and that in looking at her strange beauty, Ing has become obsessed with possessing her.  In fact, the Captain has murdered his partner in order to eliminate him as a rival.  Once she awakens, Ing believes, he will possess her completely.  As they study the woman, who has been encased in ice for an unknown period of time, Sash notes that the object in her hand looks suspiciously like a raygun described in a recent issue of Astounding Science Fiction, but Ing ignores this warning.  When the woman is revived, Ing’s fantasy is not fulfilled.  She disintegrates him with the ray gun and stalks out of the room.  As she departs, Sash hears the “fluid tinkle of the Other’s disdainful silver laughter,” but he is left unharmed.

Comments:  Read in SF of the 30’s. Perhaps interesting for the portrayal of the alien superwoman, both for the positive and negative readings she could engender.  Of interest to both perspectives is the question of whether or not this is an early entry in the genre’s tradition of self-satire. Can it be read as a parody of early sf tropes, a caricature of the Nordic scientist-adventurer stock sf “hero,” and a mockery of fantasies regarding  “the Other” (the female alien)?  Everett Bleiler in The Gernsback Years also notes that Ing’s attraction to the woman is “fetishistic.”  I’d agree that an interesting cocktail of emotions seems to accompany  Ing’s desire to possess (collect) the alien woman.  If it’s possible to see the woman as a stand-in for sf itself, in its physical form, this could be another way in which the text could be read as self-reflexive.

Author: Howard Wandrei was the brother of the more well-known sf writer, Donald Wandrei.  See Everett Bleiler’s entry in The Gernsback Years.  He did not hold a doctorate; Howard D. Graham, PhD was a pseudonym.

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About jennre

Lifelong sf fan, first-time blogger
This entry was posted in 1926 and earlier, gender, genrecraft, superhumans, the gaze, the Other. Bookmark the permalink.

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