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Title: The Ideal

Author: Stanley Weinbaum

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Serie: Van Manderpootz stories (Weinbaum) (#2)

The Ideal
Source: Project Gutenberg
Author: Stanley Weinbaum

A hodge-podge of curious ideas and situations, a vintage "wonder" tale. "An eccentric scientist announces that he intends to build an omniscient device in the form of a head. This is possible since he has already discovered the basic unit of time (the chronon) and space (the spation). Beyond these is the cosmon (the ultimate), and from these can be constructed the psychon (the unit of thought)" (this is a typical example of pseudo-science of the early pulps) When he actually constructs his device, it turns out to be a mechanism for viewing the ideal of anything thought of. He asks his friend, a bored playboy character, to use the idealizator, and, naturally, he thinks of his ideal woman. She appears and what follows is, an at times hilarious, P. G. Wodehouse-like silly romantic mess, which slowly unravels toward the end of the story. The illustration below shows a curious sub-plot - a mechanical "beast of prey" that was designed to "kill" automobiles. It's programmed to seek out the automobile, seize it, and drain its fuel. Sounds like a very timely invention indeed, for use in the coming oil crisis :)

Three short stories deal with Dixon Wells, a perpetually late playboy who runs afoul of the inventions of his friend and former instructor in "Newer Physics", Professor Haskel van Manderpootz, a supremely immodest genius who rates Einstein as his equal (or slight inferior). In "The Worlds of If", Wells tests an invention that reveals what might have been; in "The Ideal", the professor creates a device that can show the image of a person's ideal (in Wells' case, his perfect woman); the contrivance of "The Point of View" allows one to see the world from another's perspective. In all three, Wells finds and then loses the woman of his dreams.


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