Tuesday, 30 September 2014


Just a piece of stream-of-consciousness that led to some literature I'd quite forgotten... I saw an old Daily Mail article about the very cute cat Venus, who is a chimera - an organism composed of genetically distinct patches. It's not unusual in animals, but unusual to have such a distinct facial division: blue-eyed ginger tabby on the left, green-eyed black cat on the right. She even has a Facebook page.

This  distinctly reminded me of the old series Star Trek episode Let That Be Your Last Battlefield, which was a slightly heavy-handed take on race. It features two humanoid aliens with such a bilateral black-white split - but who are implacably opposed because they differ in which sides are black and white.

And this in turn jogged my memory about an SF story I read decades ago, Theodore Sturgeon's The Comedian's Children, which features a viral syndrome affecting children, which causes one-sided paralysis and a pigmentation change:
The most spectacular symptom was on the superficial pigmentation. The immobilized side turned white as bleached bone, the other increasingly dark, beginning with a reddening and slowly going through the red-browns to a chocolate in the later stages. The division was exactly on the median line, and the bicoloration proceeded the same way in all cases, regardless of the original pigmentation.
- The Comedian's Children
The story's in Venture Science Fiction, May 1958, pages 88-128, which I was pleased to find in the Internet Archive's Pulp Magazine Archive (I must explore that more). The Comedian's Childen hasn't dated much, and remains a very sharp take on the conflict between medical and celebrity figures in the area of high-profile children's diseases. The fictional syndrome is called iapetitis, named after Iapetus, the bi-coloured moon of Saturn that features in the story.

- Ray

1 comment:

  1. Enjoyed the post - reminded me of this lovely chap : http://www.cbs8.com/story/22984927/unusual-dog-is-a-genetic-fluke-and-internet-star