Post by Chris Buckley Post by Stephen Harker Post by Lawrence Watt-Evans
There is a planet where humans dare not venture out at sundown because
swarms of insects blanket and kill them. Everyone rushes in to safety
as light fades. The hero gets caught outside and his space suit valves
are clogged with the insects and he accepts that he is a goner. He
starts looking and the insects through his visor and thinks they are
actually quite cute. The moment he does this, they vanish. He is
intrigued and repeats the experiment a few times. The moment he fears
or dislikes them the insects return. The moment he has loving/friendly
thoughts toward them, they go away. So the trick to being safe is to
‘love the enemy’.
It is _The Asa Rule_ by Jay Williams which I have in *The Best from
Fantasy and Science Fiction, Sixth series*, edited by Anthony Boucher.
That is definitely the story I am remembering; I just re-read it (in
the same collection as Stephen). The description is not quite
accurate, but very close - there is no space suit and the planet is
Mars. The main character is tied to a tree after dark (by the natives
for spying on them). He is resigned to death, but looking at the widgets
(insects) he decides they are cute, and they disappear. Then
"First I concentrated on hating them, and inside of two minutes
they had come back. And once they arrived and began humming around my
face, I thought how owlish and amusing they looked and what nice pets
they'd make. Away they went again. I did it half a dozen times."
Thank you, Stephen. That had been "bugging" me ever since Lawrence had
asked about it. I had checked half a dozen more well known anthologies
with no results - I would have had to check another 30-40 before I got
down to that one!
This short appears in my June 1956 edition of F&SF. Not a spacesuit, per
se, but there are plastic suits in Lenard and Lucy's widget packs.
Here's how "love your enemies" works in practice:
contrary to the custom of war, these bloodthirsty barbarians
spared them, and spared them for Christ's sake, whether this
mercy was actually shown in promiscuous places, or in those
places specially dedicated to Christ's name, and of which
the very largest were selected as sanctuaries, that full
scope might thus be given to the expansive compassion which
desired that a large multitude might find shelter there.
_City of God_ (St Augustine)
Don.......My cat's )\._.,--....,'``.
telltale tall tail /, _.. \ _\ (`._ ,.
tells tall tales.. `._.-(,_..'--(,_..'`-.;.'