The Plot

(Critical Survey of Science Fiction and Fantasy)

In “Waldo,” young genius Waldo F. Jones suffers from myasthenia gravis, a disease characterized by increasing weakness and exhaustibility of muscles. He builds a space habitat that he calls “Freehold” and his enemies call “Wheelchair.” Earth needs Waldo. On one hand, its “radiant power reactors” are failing; on the other, humanity is becoming physically weaker, possibly as a reaction to the radiation these reactors give off.

To solve his personal gravity disorder, Waldo becomes essentially a floating brain that must reach back to the physical world via prostheses, his famous “waldoes” that have become part of the jargon of science fiction. It is only when he sees that his problem can be solved not by separating mind and body but by uniting them that Waldo makes the parallel between his condition and that of humanity in general. He proceeds to rectify both.

Energy must be leaking into another world, but what is this place? In his inquiry, Waldo has two possible paths: reason and magic. Rambeau, a rationalist, goes mad when he cannot solve the problem, literally passing to the “other side,” where he reactivates the DeKalb generators. Gramps Schneider, a hex doctor, also engages the other world, but he joins the worlds instead of separating them. When Waldo goes to Earth to meet Gramps, the latter “lays hands” on both man and machine. Waldo feels his “fingers” reaching out to draw power from this other...

(The entire section is 528 words.)


(Critical Survey of Science Fiction and Fantasy)

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