In Unwise Child Randall Garrett takes on one of the common plots of science fiction, a small group stuck on a spaceship far from Earth with a computer that may have turned into a murderer. It’s an idea that has been explored in countless stories, novels, and movies including the famous confrontation with Hal 9000 in the movie 2001. Yet Garrett uses the cliché to explore the deeper theme of what it means to be human and can a machine ever really achieve awareness.
Many of Garrett’s stories dealt with the mind, of how it works, what powers it has. He uses this novel to explore the impact of upbringing and education on the mind’s development. He also ponders that indefinable entity, the soul, and questions whether a mere machine, a product of man’s handiwork, can ever possess one.
The novel, published in 1959, is very much a product of its time. Computers are still enormous devices taking up whole rooms. Advances in science have given man the stars, but spaceships are still run with manual controls and calculations made on desk-top calculators. Garrett, was still early in his career when he wrote the novel, and it shows. His characters are, in the fashion of the time, literally larger than life. His symbolism, as when he names his hero after three archangels, is a little heavy handed at times.
Yet, despite these flaws, the novel still works, both as an engaging story, and as a vehicle to examine deeper themes. Resurrected Press is proud to bring the reader Unwise Child, the early work of one of the major figures in science fiction.
About the Author
Gordon Randall Garrett (December 16, 1927-December 31, 1987) was a prolific author of science fiction and fantasy. He was a regular contributor to Astounding and other magazines during the 50’s and 60’s. He is best known for his alternate reality stories featuring the detective Lord Darcy who lives in a world where the Plantagenates still rule an Anglo-French empire and magic works. He wrote under a number of pseudonyms including David Gordon, John Gordon, Ivar Jorgensen, Darrel T. Langart, Gerald Vance and others. He collaborated on several works with Laurence Janifer and with Robert Silverberg as Robert Randall. He was a founding member of the Society for Creative Anachronism.