Book Review: “Mimsy Were the Borgoves” by Lewis Padgett (Four Stars)


Book Review: “Mimsy Were the Borgoves” by Lewis Padgett (C. L. Moore and Henry Kuttner)

(Four Stars)

“But no boy has ever left a box unopened, unless forcibly dragged away. It was a toy; Scott sensed, with the unerring instinct of a child.”

Excellent novelette with a literary hook. Despite an unpromising start, the story ends well. The section on the adults’ reactions is too long and clumsy.

“A child knows nothing of Euclid. A different geometry from ours wouldn’t impress him as being illogical.

Like many smart people, Moore and Kuttner got geometry, and learning in general, backward. We don’t see things as we do because we learned Euclid’s axioms; Euclid derived his axioms from how we view reality. A child learns to throw and catch a ball knowing nothing about physics.

“But I don’t think I’ll change your little song.” “You mustn’t. If you did, it wouldn’t mean anything.” “I won’t change that stanza, anyway,” he promised. “Just what does it mean?” “It’s the way out, I think,” the girl said doubtfully. “I’m not sure yet. My magic toys told me.”

2019 Best Novelette 1944 Retrospective Hugo Award finalist. Published in Astounding Science-Fiction, February 1943.

“A symbol, to us, means more than what we see on paper.”