Ask Me Anything (eBook)

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  • 11,880 Words
  • 39 Pages

Damon Knight was 28 when he wrote this story, and it appeared in GALAXY’s eighth issue (May 1951). The early maturity displayed is stunning. GALAXY from the beginning met the terms of its publicity: it was to be an entirely new kind of science fiction magazine. Knight’s tortured cyborgs in ASK ME ANYTHING--the amputated brains of children placed in metallic contraptions designed for combat and killing--have a horrifying validity. There is anticipation here of the African child soldiers of late century and the torture they both suffer and inflict, and here too is the crisis in the institutions which prepare these machines to serve. Knight was, like Nabokov, among the coldest and the hottest of writers; the cool anguish he depicts is understated yet unleashes waves of implication and the larger culture which would propitiate and abandon these child warriors is of course a refraction of a postwar culture which in the name of self-preservation had unleashed unspeakable horror upon a defeated enemy. Knight was prototypical of that postwar generation of writers who knew exactly what myths the technological horrors of Hiroshima and Belsen had unleashed in the name of liberty.

Damon Knight was 28 when he wrote this story, and it appeared in GALAXY’s eighth issue (May 1951). The early maturity displayed is stunning. GALAXY from the beginning met the terms of its publicity: it was to be an entirely new kind of science fiction magazine. Knight’s tortured cyborgs in ASK ME ANYTHING--the amputated brains of children placed in metallic contraptions designed for combat and killing--have a horrifying validity. There is anticipation here of the African child soldiers of late century and the torture they both suffer and inflict, and here too is the crisis in the institutions which prepare these machines to serve. Knight was, like Nabokov, among the coldest and the hottest of writers; the cool anguish he depicts is understated yet unleashes waves of implication and the larger culture which would propitiate and abandon these child warriors is of course a refraction of a postwar culture which in the name of self-preservation had unleashed unspeakable horror upon a defeated enemy. Knight was prototypical of that postwar generation of writers who knew exactly what myths the technological horrors of Hiroshima and Belsen had unleashed in the name of liberty.


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