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ISFDB.org Magazine Entry



Communicado

by Katherine MacLean

Here is an absorbing speculation, on the border-
line between fact and fiction. It isn't "true",
because the evidence remains insufficient; on the
other hand, we cannot be sure that It is "false",
either, as yet...

WHAT DO people want when they read science-fiction? I write this as science-fiction, but what if it is the truth? We might not want to hear about the truth.

I'll tell you a story then.

But first, a question. Have you ever had a prediction dream? I've had one. It was nothing, just a filthy bit of gossip about a Hollywood star. Even in the dream I was sorry for that star that he was exposed to such talk.

And the next day I was told tha gossip by a masseuse in a bus.

I'm a rational person, perhaps exceptionally rational. I know my own mind, and Its interests and escapes, and when I woke up from lhat dream I knew it was nothing of mine. Just to be sure, I checked, sitting there on the edge of my bed for a brief interval of concentrated self-scepticism, but I could find ho history of delving into movie magazines, no hidden lewd Interest in the love-lives of movie stars, only a genuine concern to leave the poor bedeviled creatures alone to a bit of privacy, at least from this particle of their audience. I made a note that this was something unexplained, to be investigated again.

And the next day, as I have said, I fell into a conversation with this hearty, well-painted woman on a long bus ride to New York, and she told me anecdotes about having recently worked as a masseuse in Hollywood. I changed the subject uneasily, introducing the fact that I was a writer to create a diversion. The response was the usual one. Everyone seems to be a writer at heart. She immediately ptilled a sheaf of poems out of her purse and set me to reading them. They were honest and sensitive, but marred by a scattering of second hand purple cliches, so obviously out of context that they could easily have been removed. I tried to point them out, but she was so distraught with maternal anxiety over her creations that I could only compliment and reassure her, and let well enough alone, for it was surprising enough that such healthy brutality as hers could have produced the degree of sensitivity the poems contained.

We were approaching the terminal, but she went back to her inside gossip from her recent work in Hollywood, and now I saw the nasty item coming with a sinking of the heart, and tried to fend it off and interrupt again; she told me, anyhow, with a certain stubbornness and urgency in the set of her broad jaw.

I suppose she had to tell me. It was written, as the Mohammedans say, for otherwise I would have had nothing to have dreamed about already, and would have been in one of those insane time-paradoxes in which the effect destroys its cause that our science-fiction writers so delight in writing.

THAT PART was truth, and nothing to disturb you, for most of you have had prediction dreams, even if just about the death of Aunt Ella. They are a part of living, and seem nothing to be disturbed about; for anything which so persistently connects itself with Aunt Ella must be aa harmless and futile as she. Even spiritualism, with its chilling implications of haunts and powers beyond life, long ago succumbed to the dusty sweet boredom of Grandma's parlor; for when the knocks are deciphered or the slate written on by the unseen is opened, it turns out to be Uncle Ben, who was a great bore in life, is now being a great bore in death, telling us he is "soo happy, soo happy" and he sounds futile and childish and soul-stunted, just as before.

So, reading Doctor Rhine's careful experiments in which he establishes the reality and universality of telepathy, you probably picture him, as I do— high-collared, bachelorish, and very bachelorish, and very like Aunt Ella.

And I read John Dunne's Experiment With Time in which he establishes that almost a third or more of our dreaming is random scrambled prediction, which we don't notice—because our futures are on the whole too uninteresting, and too much like our past for the difference to attract any attention on waking. To me, even his clear careful approach seems naive and childishly direct, although I couldn't' say why; there is no question for me of the validity of his conclusions.

Before the delayed approach of careful science the subject of psi, telepathy, clairvoyance, ...

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