The Plot

(Critical Survey of Science Fiction and Fantasy)

This book is composed of five separate stories sharing a common background. The first four—“The Piper’s Son,” “Three Blind Mice,” “The Lion and the Unicorn,” and “Beggars in Velvet”—were published in 1945. The series was popular, but the authors lost interest; the final story, “Humpty Dumpty,” was not published until 1953. When the stories were collected in book form, the authors added framing and linking sections to tie the stories together into a somewhat novellike whole.

Mutant begins two generations after World War II ended with the use of nuclear weapons, radiation from which created the Baldies: mutant, hairless humans with telepathic powers. The Baldies are a minority in a suspicious, violence-prone postwar world, and they justifiably fear lynchings and pogroms if they antagonize nontelepaths. For the sake of their species, they agree to sacrifice the individual advantages and comforts their special ability might have brought them.

A subgroup of paranoid Baldies, however, believe that Baldies are a master race and deserve to rule the world. Most of Mutant deals with the efforts of the rational Baldies to foil the plots of the paranoids. In “The Piper’s Son,” for example, a Baldy named Ed Burkhalter learns that a paranoid is trying to condition Baldy children, including his son Al, with the telepathically transmitted “Green Man” adventure story, designed to instill feelings of racial...

(The entire section is 501 words.)