“Vengeance for Nikolai,” Walter M. Miller, Jr, 1957

“Vengeance for Nikolai,” Walter M. Miller, Jr, 1957 — Marya, a young Russian woman, is asked by a Russian general to assassinate the brilliant American (Ami) leader who is routing their troops.  This leader also is responsible for the attack that killed the young mother’s son.  The grieving mother agrees.

The Ami leader has a breast fetish, and she is a nursing mother. Her breast milk is poisoned, and she’s given enough antidote to survive the mission. She sneaks across enemy lines and narrowly escapes being gang raped by six Ami soldiers eager to give her the “privilege” of laying with them.  Under interrogation, she refuses to provide any information about the note in her pocket, which suggests she has information about a biological attack.  She’s tortured (possibly raped).  When the Ami leader, who fancies himself a rescuer of women, learns of this treatment and of her beauty, he brings her to his suite.  He wants her to be grateful, to come on to him voluntarily.  Instead, she tells him that she’s going to kill him.  She wants him to know, wants him to give in to his urges despite the fact that she’s warned him.  He cannot help himself from suckling at her breast.

Flash forward. The Ami newspapers printed the barest truth: The general died from poisoned milk.  But the Russian songs sing the real truth of the young woman’s victory for a thousand years.

Comment: Read in Infinity One.  Fascinating and unexpected story from the late 50’s.

Excerpt from David N. Samuelson’s “The Lost Canticles of Walter M. Miller, Jr.”: “Vengeance for Nikolai’ (1957) is only minimally science fiction, with no extrapolated technology, rather an implicit standstill. A tale of bizarre assassination, it concerns a Russian girl who carries poison in her breasts for the brilliant general of the American ‘Blue Shirt’ invading forces. Marya is a creature of legend, Miller indicates, whose sheer intensity of purpose seems to get her through the lines without much damage. No didacticism, except for the warning against American fascism, detracts from the purity of her mission, vengeance for her dead baby channeled into an act of heroism on behalf of the Fatherland.

Author: Wikipedia: “Walter Michael Miller, Jr. (January 23, 1923 – January 9, 1996) was an American science fiction author. Today he is primarily known for A Canticle for Leibowitz, the only novel he published in his lifetime. Prior to its publication he was a prolific writer of short stories.”


About jennre

Lifelong sf fan, first-time blogger
This entry was posted in 1946-1959, agency/will/freedom, death/immortality, emotions/intimacy/empathy, favorites, gender, love/family/children, masculinity, mourning/grief, myth, nationalism, psych/mind/madness, sex/reproduction/sterility, suicide, the body, violence, war/soldiers. Bookmark the permalink.

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