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Sunday, April 6, 2014

"The Root and the Ring" by Wyman Guin

First appeared in H.L. Gold's Beyond Fantasy Fiction. Reprinted by Thomas A. Dardis ,Kathryn Cramer, and David Hartwell. 

In 2013, Wyman Guin was awarded the Cordwainer Smith Rediscovery Award "to honour notable sf and fantasy authors who in the view of the judging panel did not receive or no longer receive the attention they deserve."  --SFE

After the unemployed narrator marries, his employed wife wants children, so he has to get a job.  They marry without him having a wedding ring.  When employed, he has glimmers of ideas that might get himself promoted.  He suppresses these ideas because he does not want to be promoted and be forced to spend more time away from home and have to go in debt buying more things.

His wife finally gives him a ring, in the shape of a moebius strip, that gives its wearer the heightened powers of mathematics. His brain does scale the heights of mathematics.  Again the narrator fears being promoted.  Lucky for him, he loses his wedding ring while working beside an apple tree.

However, soon the entire family becomes mathematical geniuses. The husband creates a figure the disappear.  The wife becomes an investing guru.  The husband is not pleased, plots to destroy the ring while the wife disagrees.

An otherwise useful review on Amazon lumps "My Darling Hecate" and "The Root and the Ring" together.  While I don't agree (the first does not have to be a witch and this one certainly is not), they do have interesting resonances:

  1. Beyond Fantasy Fiction followed the John W. Campbell's Unknown, which was to apply the rigor SF to fantasy.  In both this and "My Darling Hecate" hangs at the less plausible end of SF--at least SF standards at the time, which could include telekinesis usually from an evolved superman.
  2. Both written in first person narratives from a male perspective about married life.  Both are positive.
  3.  Both men introduce problems or challenges to the marriage.
  4. The woman introduces the speculative or magic element.  The woman brings the literal/figurative magic to the relationship.

Edition:  Beyond Bedlam and Other Stories by Wyman Guin

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