“The Large Ant,” Howard Fast, 1960

“The Large Ant,” Howard Fast, 1960 — A writer tells Lieberman, a curator, Hopper, a senator with an interest in entymology, and Fitzgerald, a government man, the story of how he encountered an ant-like alien while fishing in the Adirondacks.  Somewhat unnerved, he tries to explain the overpowering fear and revulsion he experienced at the sight of the foreign creature, a fear which led him to immediately bash its body.  “Whatever kind of a man I am, I react as a man does.  I think that any man, black, white or yellow, in China, Africa, or Russia, would have done the same thing.”

Yet, he is clearly disturbed by his reaction and struggles to talk it through with the three investigators.  Hopper asks him if the creature made a move to harm him and he responds that it did nothing but look at him.  Hopper explains that he killed it because he is “a human being.”  The trio explains that the ant-like creatures are appearing everywhere and that they have brains and use tools, suggesting a high intelligence.  Surely there is some–possibly nefarious–purpose to their presence?  They speculate–are the aliens here to observe?  To invade?  To co-exist or communicate?  They cannot know; the debriefing ends and the group goes its separate ways.

Later, when alone, he tries to recall the ant-like face and its waving antennae, to remember the fear and anger.  But all he can remember now about the event is a certain sense of dignity and repose in the alien’s features.  His thoughts during this experience have touched on the atom bomb and man’s violent nature, and they return to this subject once more.  He wonders if Man is about to be put on trial; he decides that he’s ready to be judged.

Comments: Read in The Future I.  Themes of the Other, atom bomb, violence, empathy, difference.

Author: Wikipedia: “Howard Melvin Fast (November 11, 1914 – March 12, 2003) was an American novelist and television writer. Fast also wrote under the pen names E. V. Cunningham and Walter Ericson…Fast is the author of the prominent ‘Why the Fifth Amendment?’ essay. This essay explains in detail the purpose of the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America. Fast effectively uses the context of the Red Scare to illustrate the purpose of the ‘Fifth’…Fast spent World War II working with the United States Office of War Information, writing for Voice of America. In 1943, he joined the Communist Party USA and in 1950 he was called before the House Committee on Un-American Activities; in his testimony, he refused to disclose the names of contributors to a fund for a home for orphans of American veterans of the Spanish Civil War (one of the contributors was Eleanor Roosevelt), and was given a three-month prison sentence for contempt of Congress…It was while he was in jail that Fast began writing his most famous work, Spartacus, a novel about an uprising among Roman slaves.”

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About jennre

Lifelong sf fan, first-time blogger
This entry was posted in 1960-1969, atomic bomb/Hiroshima, difference/tolerance, emotions/intimacy/empathy, the Other, violence. Bookmark the permalink.

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