“Alas, All Thinking,” Harry Bates, 1935 – A brilliant scientist is given a glimpse of humanity’s future as purely mental creatures. Only 36 humans remain, and they live in dusty cubicles, engaged in constant meditation. Three of them turn to look at him and their necks snap under the weight of their heads. Horrified at their “monster”-like bodies and useless lives, he eventually kills them all, leaving alive Pearl, the most “worldly” of the group, with whom he intends to create a “revised” race. Although Pearl never seems to forgive him for killing the “beautiful souls,” and she believes that thinking itself is beautiful and is therefore useful, she asks him to mate with her. They engage in an awkward courtship, during which she also asks him to woo her in “the manner of a twentieth century novel” (Bleiler). He attempts this, but she is drawn into an extended period of analysis whenever he makes an unfamiliar gesture. Eventually, she retreats into meditation completely. Using her time machine, he travels to the future to find her degenerating into a mushroom-like creature. At the conclusion, he kills her with the help of two friends.
Comments: Disturbing. Bleiler notes that the frame narrative begins in 1963. Read in Great Tales of SF.
Author: Wikipedia: “Harry Bates (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, October 9, 1900 – September 1981) was an American science fiction editor and writer. His 1940 short story “Farewell to the Master” was the basis of the well-known 1951 science fiction movie The Day the Earth Stood Still.”