Comeback can be found in






When Parkhurst heard the announcement that climaxed the
science fiction convention, he found that he'd been right, years ago
when he had faith in science-fictionists' dreams. But, in another
way, he'd been wrong...

Comeback

Philip Latham

H. GAYLORD PARKHURST strolled across the lobby with an air of elaborate nonchalance, keeping his eyes carefully averted from the group at the entrance to the coffee shop. He knew that Bill Conway was holding forth in the center of the group and he didn't particularly care for Bill Conway. Bill had been voted the guest of honor that year at the Pasadena Science Fiction Convention, better known as the Pasadelicon. Bill sold not only to the science fiction magazines but to the big slicks as well—although just what the editors could see in his stuff Parkhurst had never been able to understand. But then editors were funny people.

"Hi, there, Parky!" Conway hailed him genially from his station by the door. "Where you headed?"

Parkhurst started slightly, as if caught unawares.

"Oh, hello, Conway." His features relaxed into a grin. "Didn't see you in the crush. Arnold Swope asked me up for cocktails."

"Say, I heard Hellman's coming up, too. Swope says he's got big news for us."

"Who's Hellman anyhow?"

"You know . . . that big wind tunnel fellow from Tech."

"Oh, yes." Parkhurst's eyes were vague. "Wonder what Swope calls big news?"

"Don't know; he didn't seem to know himself."

"Hope it's better than that junk he's been printing in Zodiac lately."

"What does he care so long as people read it?" Conway chuckled. He turned back to his public. "I'll be up in a minute myself. Tell Swope to save a drink."

"Better hurry," Parkhurst warned.

He had only taken a few steps when his progress was halted by a youth who emerged suddenly from behind one of the imitation marble pillars that disfigured the lobby. Alvin Winters had an uncanny faculty for showing up unexpectedly when you least wanted to see him. There were times when H. Gaylord Parkhurst felt that he belonged more to Alvin Winters than he belonged to himself. Still Alvin was his most faithful fan—and he didn't have so many that he could brush them off lightly these days.

"Hello, Mr. Parkhurst. How are you?"

"Fine, Alvin, fine."

"Did you receive my last letter?"

"Yes, I did."

"What did you think of my remarks, Mr. Parkhurst?"

Alvin had outlined his remarks in three single- spaced typewritten pages using the red ribbon throughout.

"Well, to tell the truth, Alvin, I'm afraid I don't altogether agree with you. I seriously doubt if the future holds anything so really new and wonderful for us. I mean really new and wonderful. Maybe we science fiction people have been kidding ourselves all these years. Whistling in the dark so to speak."

"But that was the whole underlying philosophy of your New Worlds of Science, Mr. Parkhurst," Alvin protested. "Why you're the one who practically invented it."

"I know, Alvin, but that was twenty years ago. Doubtless science has plenty to show us yet—but somehow I'm losing faith in this bright new world of the future. Growing old, I guess."

HE LEFT Alvin staring after him disconsolately. Perhaps he had been too abrupt with young Winters. After all, he was becoming something of a legend to many of these youngsters. F. Scott Fitzgerald had been the spokesman for the Jazz Age. Hemingway had owned the Roaring Twenties. And he—H. Gaylord Parkhurst—had also had his little hour back in the depressing Thirties. Ah, youth . . .

Confound it! He hadn't wired his mother yet. He knew she wouldn't...

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