"Freedom of the Race" (short story)
by Hans van der Boom
January 2003 DAW books published an anthology titled
Wondrous Beginnings. Internet promotion of this book read:
included in this volume are a real "who was and is who" in the
field of science fiction, from such masters of science fiction's
Golden Age as: Murray Leinster, L. Sprague de Camp, Hal Clement,
and Arthur C. Clarke, to a number of today's hottest-selling and
award-winning authors such as Anne McCaffrey, Gene Wolfe, George
R.R. Martin, Orson Scott Card, Lois McMaster Bujold and Stephen
How and where did these writers get their start? Now you can
find out by reading the stories that began their careers, some
well-known classics, others long unavailable. Each story
includes an introduction by the author--or in the case of Murray
Leinster, by his daughter--which offers insight into the genesis
of both the particular story and the individual writer's career.
And all of them serve as fascinating examples of just what makes
science fiction the popular genre it has long been and still
So, what was Anne
McCaffrey’s “wondrous beginning”? Well, first of all let me tell
you that Anne doesn’t think her beginning (read: her first
published story) wondrous at all. But then, she became a helluva
writer later on and frowned upon her very first try which she
thought wasn’t up to her (later) standard...
The Montclair Times newspaper of August 13, 1953
published an article headed: “Anne McCaffrey Johnson Writes
Prize-Winning Magazine Story” Anne's husband, H. Wright
Johnson was immensely displeased with her writing, but mostly
because he thought of science fiction as having no literary
value - which is why Anne was and always has been published
under her maiden name of McCaffrey. The Montclair Times
reporter wrote: “being a Princeton man, Mr. Johnson takes a
somewhat dim view of his wife’s flights into outer space. He is
not quite sure whether to be proud or dismayed at his wife’s
breaking into print.”
This very first
published story by Anne was “Freedom of the Race”. It counted a
thousand words and was published in the magazine Science
Fiction Plus in October 1953. Anne’s original title for it,
“The New Freedom”, was rejected and changed by the editor. With
this story Anne won a $100 prize (in 1953!). The magazine at the
time cost only 35 cents (US). It was accompanied by one black
and white illustration by Peter Poulton and appeared on page 20.
The story tells of aliens (martians) who have subjugated Earth
and are attempting to use Terran women as surrogate mothers for
their race. it doesn't work out the way they planned though...
(won't give away the plot).
I don’t know the
exact number in which Science Fiction Plus was printed but would
be very much surprised if it was more than a few thousand.
As of 10/15/2005,
just one copy was found for sale online for US$40.
If you just want to read the story you'd better just buy a new
or used paperback edition of Wondrous Beginnings. For tips
on locating copies of this or other items, email Cheryl (address
in page footer) or post a message at
A Meeting of Minds.
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